Giles Elderkin is the pseudonym award-winning mystery author James M. Jackson uses for stories set in the distant past or the not so distant future. He has deep roots in upstate New York and New England, but now splits his time between the remote woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lowcountry of Georgia. He is a member of the Short Fiction Mystery Society and the Guppy and Low Country Chapters of Sisters in Crime. You can find more information about him at http://gileselderkin.com or http://jamesmjackson.com
I enjoy thinking about financial transactions and how someone would try to pervert the system. With short stories, I usually start with the general characteristics of the crime. Then I create the characters and setting to make the story work.
How did you come up with the idea for your story in History and Mystery, Oh My?
I have a deep interest in the American Civil War, including the build up to it. Because I write mostly contemporary mystery novels, I didn’t have a lot of time to do research. However, I have a rich family history that ties to antebellum Dansville, NY. That allowed me to combine historical characters I knew well based on family records and a time period that I knew from my general interest.
The major issue of the time was slavery. I had recently taken a trip in upstate New York that included John Brown’s farm in the Adirondacks. His raid on Harper’s Ferry divided the nation in a way that only war would repair, so I decided to build a story seemingly triggered by that event. From there, the pieces fell into place and I decided to incorporate a puzzle-type mystery that readers could solve (or not).
Did you encounter any obstacles in researching the setting?
Because I don’t live near that area, I had to do my research by phone and email. In the time I had available, I couldn’t find anyone at the local historical societies who could tell me the structure of law enforcement in Dansville, NY in the late 1850s. So, I made up a sheriff.
What are you working on now?
My alter ego (James M. Jackson) has a novel, Ant Farm, that is up for nomination in the Kindle Scout program. I’d love your vote. Here’s the link: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3IATL9SA04ZS2 It is a prequel to my Seamus McCree mystery series. I am also working on the next in that series, titled Doubtful Relations.
Okay, so you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
I love medium-boiled, suspenseful mysteries, which is why I enjoy writing them.