It’s Wednesday peeps, and that’s the day we talk about writing and writers. I’m pleased as punch to welcome back our friend K.B. Owen. I am humbled by her greatness and was so thrilled when she asked to stop by Social Alchemy on her blog tour. She has just published her first novel, “Dangerous and Unseemly” a Concordia Wells Mystery. Let’s give it up for K.B.!!!
Alchemy as you know, has to do with transformation. And K.B. has transformed. She went into the chrysalis of “would be” and now she is a “published” author. It’s so much hard work, and takes energy and courage, she is an inspiration to us all.
You know we’re big mystery readers here at Social Alchemy, and Kathy’s story offers up a very unique setting and time period as well as intriguing heroine, Concordia Wells. Here’s how Kathy introduces us to the world of her story:
The year is 1896, and Professor Concordia Wells has her hands full: teaching classes, acting as live-in chaperone to a cottage of lively female students, and directing the student play, Macbeth.
But mystery and murder are not confined to the stage. Malicious pranks, arson, money troubles, and the apparent suicide of a college official create turmoil at the women’s college. For Concordia, it becomes personal when a family member dies of a mysterious illness, and her best friend is attacked and left for dead.
With her friend still in danger and her beloved school facing certain ruin, Concordia knows that she must act. But uncovering secrets is a dangerous business, and there are some who do not appreciate the unseemly inquiries and bold actions of the young lady professor. Can she discover the ones responsible…before she becomes the next target?
I was lucky enough to score some Skype time with K.B. or Kathy, I had tons of questions. First I wanted to learn more about Concordia:
K.B. Owen: Concordia is named after the Greek goddess of harmony. But “harmony” only applied to her relationship with her father, who introduced her to the world of literature and the intellect. But she has always been at odds with her mother and sister, who embrace a world of fashion magazines, teas, and dances – she was never quite at ease in that sphere. Concordia’s a square peg in a round hole, so to speak. In the Progressive Age, upper middle class American women were still expected to follow a domestic path, make the right social connections, marry well, and secure an ideal home environment for their children. Concordia, on the other hand, wanted to go to college and build an independent life for herself. By this time her father – the one person who would have championed her dream – had died. She defied her mother and did it anyway, which has put them at odds ever since.
RFH: Tell me more about her clothing, is it true she had to do all her detecting wearing a bustle?
K.B. Owen: At that time, the bustle was not as big as you are used to seeing them! Her long skirts are more of an encumbrance during, shall we say, “active” scenes. She does have a bicycling outfit, which feature bloomers, a shorter skirt and leggings. Even she would admit it shows a shocking amount of leg. Abbreviated outfits of this sort were acceptable for particular sports: golf, lawn tennis…even basketball, which was quite the rage in women’s colleges at the time. Normally, though, Concordia wears the very ladylike shirtwaist and long skirts that were typical of the period.
RFH: What kinds of classes could a young lady take at one of these colleges?
K.B. Owen: In creating this world, I was fortunate enough to find some wonderful resources in the Smith College and Mount Holyoke course catalog archives. Many of the offerings were based in the classics of the time: Latin, Greek, Rhetoric, Mathematics, and Moral Philosophy. Schools often had specializations: Smith had an impressive Music Department, and I believe it was Bryn Mawr that offered an Astronomy specialty. But some of the colleges in the south were more like finishing schools or female seminaries, offering courses in “domestic skills” subjects like child-rearing and sewing. People were conflicted about women’s higher education back then; some of the more progressive advocates wanted women’s colleges to be as academically rigorous as men’s colleges. But there was also a demand for women to be trained in more practical, domestic subjects, too. Many colleges offered both types of courses.
RFH: What inspired you to write a book set in this time period?
K.B. Owen: My doctorate is in 19th Century British literature, so I was familiar with the period. But I wanted to write an American mystery. There are a lot of British series out there, but not as many set in the United States, and I felt more comfortable with American vernacular, obviously. My mother-in-law was my specific inspiration for the women’s college setting. After she passed away, we were clearing her desk drawers and discovered cool items from her college days. I thought it would be a fascinating setting for a mystery. There’s also the fact that I taught college literature for nearly two decades, too, so it seemed a good fit.
RFH: And why do you write mysteries?
K.B. Owen: My childhood reading – especially Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes – was largely responsible for that, I think! And I never outgrew my love of mysteries. Writing them has become a natural extension of that. In my opinion, it’s a special genre, for a lot of reasons: the thrill of the chase, the battle of the intellect, the restoration of order, justice being done…. In an untidy, unfair world, that can be comforting.
And folks, there is more! K.B., that crafty lady, is running a contest!
How about a little mystery fun…and a prize! Each stop in K.B. Owen’s book launch tour has a mystery question (below). The alphabet letter next to the correct answer is what you want. By the end of the tour you’ll have enough letters to unscramble the answers to which ROOM, WEAPON, and SUSPECT. But it’s just for fun, so even if you just want to answer one quiz question, email Kathy with the answer at kbowenwriter(at)gmail(dot)com. She’d love to hear from you! She’ll draw a winner from all the entries and announce it at Karen McFarland‘s blog (http://www.karenmcfarland.com), the last stop of the tour. What could you win? A free ebook copy of Dangerous and Unseemly, and a $25 gift card of your choice to either Starbucks, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble! Full details (with the story of the untimely demise of Sir Reginald “Good Riddance” Crenshaw) at: http://kbowenmysteries.com/whodunnit-play-the-book-tour-game/
Email Deadline: Monday, April 1st
There was a mysterious incident in Agatha Christie’s life. In her early adulthood, she:
T) was accused of murdering her first husband
U) disappeared for 11 days and when she was found had no memory of the time
V) had charge of the hospital pharmaceutical dispensary, in which a large quantity of poison disappeared
W) was rumored to have an illegitimate child
Now that your appetite for crime and bustles has been whetted, here are all the ways and places you can RUN NOW and get a copy of “Dangerous and Unseemly” for yourself and your friends:
Barnes and Noble Nookbook:
Thanks K.B. for sharing your information about this lovely book. And thanks everyone for stopping by.