Today Shelley Noble is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Tell Me No Lies, her latest novel in the Lady Dunbridge mystery series.
Welcome, Shelley. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
SN: The Lady Dunbridge mystery series takes place in Manhattan during the Gilded Age. In the first, ASK ME NO QUESTIONS, Lady Dunbridge, Phil to her friends, is a young widow who with her butler and ladies maid (Whom she found stowing away on the ship top New York) comes to Manhattan to make her fortune and finds herself embroiled in the murder of her best friend’s, infamous, race horse-owning, fast automobile driving, philandering husband. In the current book, TELL ME NO LIES, Phil searches for the killer of a young business tycoon, whose death may set off another financial panic, and could ruin the reputation of several young debutantes.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
SN: Once I had decided on a period, I ran across the real trial of Nan Patterson, a Floradora girl, accused of murdering her lover Cesar Young. It was so apropos of the period, that it sparked my imagination, and what if . . . took over.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
SN: The 1900s was such a pivotal period of history. Automobiles were beginning to crowd the streets. Telephones were in hundreds of Manhattan homes. Middle class young women went to college or worked in stores or offices. It was the era of the “Modern Woman,” pre flapper but on the verge of something exciting. Once I decided on a period, I looked for interesting events. The amazing Belmont Park and racetrack had just opened the year before. TELL ME NO LIES takes place during the Financial Panic of 1907, fortunes are lost, lives are ruined. And it occurred to me that the more things change…I guess what interests me is how greed and fear can drive people to do extraordinary and sometimes stupid things.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
SN: I live with my characters for a time before I beginning writing them. They occupy my head and when they feel real they go on the page. It’s great when writing a series because you can let the characters grow and have setbacks book after book. I think my favourite characters are the elusive ones, the ones that keep a little mystery about themselves even to me.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
SN: Place has always been interactive to me, not just a backdrop for my characters to act in front of. It has its own personality. It’s seen through the character’s eyes, so it changes depending on who is seeing it.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
SN: Lots and lots and lots. Primary sources, Newspapers of the times, dairies, then also research that has been done since the events. I can read a hundred year old newspaper all day. Even the ads are fascinating. Plus nothing beats going to a place, I live right outside of Manhattan, and walking down the streets imagining it as it looked then, is so much fun. I do get some funny looks sometimes.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
SN: I wrote Lady Phil as a product of her time but also in the vein of the popular literature of the time. With lots of action and energy as well as fashion and social events.
Thanks for answering my questions, Shelley, and good luck with Tell Me No Lies, the latest book in the Lady Dunbridge Mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Shelley Noble: Shelley is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary women’s fiction. (Beach Colors, Whisper Beach, Lighthouse Beach.) And the author of the Lady Dunbridge Gilded Age Manhattan mysteries. Tell Me No Lies is the latest of the series. She has written eighteen amateur sleuth and historical mystery novels and novellas as Shelley Freydont. (The Sudoku Murders, Celebration Bay mysteries, The Gilded Age Newport mysteries.
A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives at the Jersey shore where she loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses, vintage carousels, and the past.