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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Interview with Ana Brazil

Good morning everyone!  Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow friends in the USA.  Hope you all have a wonderful holiday today.  Before you dig in to all that food and family-time, take a few minutes to check out my interview with Ana Brazil, author of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper.  Brazil writes a historical mystery series set in Gilded Age New Orleans that has me dying to check out the location!

02_Fanny Newcomb

Heather: Hi Ana, welcome to The Maiden’s Court!

I first wanted to ask where you got your start with writing?

Ana Brazil: I started writing stories way back in elementary school. I read Little Women in fifth grade and I wanted to be Jo March. I even remember writing part of the Christmas play in sixth grade! So I've always been a writer, which also means that I've always been a reader.

H: I think you have to be in love with reading to be an effective storyteller for sure!

Not many books that take place during the Gilded Age tend to be set outside New York or Newport. How did you settle upon New Orleans for your novel?

AB: You're right; the northeast seems to have a monopoly on Gilded Age novels and it's just not fair! Although New Orleans reached its heyday prior to the Civil War, it was still very cosmopolitan and cultured during the late 19th century.

I actually tried to write Fanny's story in Victorian London, when Jack the Ripper was on his rampage in 1888. But I soon realized that Fanny's story really belonged in New Orleans, a city and culture that was much more familiar to me. I researched and wrote my master's thesis about "Social Volunteerism" in Gilded Age New Orleans, so I was very familiar with the dynamic personalities and events of late 19th century.

H: That’s pretty cool! I hoped that it would have had some sort of personal connection. I love seeing authors take on some of those locales that are less featured – it keeps things interesting!

Have you been a longtime reader of crime novels and mysteries? What are some of your favorites or inspiration?

AB: Oh yes, I've always read mysteries. Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane have always been my favorites. Not surprisingly (since Fanny Newcomb falls into this category), I've always been attracted to heroic female characters. Some of my favorite writers of heroines are Laurie R. King, Miriam Grace Monfredo, Karen Rose Cercone, Julia Spencer Fleming, and Lauren Willig.

H: There are some FANTASTIC names in that list!

Fanny Newcomb, a teacher, and her friends, a school principal, and a doctor, seek out the Ripper plaguing their city. How did you settle upon these roles for your leading women?

AB: As the story starts, these three women aren't exactly friends! But they do all live together at the Wisdom Hall Settlement House in one of the poorer neighborhoods of New Orleans. Wisdom Hall is based on Toynbee Hall, a settlement house located in London's Whitechapel. At Toynbee Hall and other settlement houses, you would have a principal, teachers, and on-call or doctors. So--as with all of the details in the story--I'm historically correct.

Sylvia (the principal) certainly is in charge and expects to be obeyed. And Olive (the doctor) bristles with efficiency as she manages her infirmary. Fanny has a legal background and has been hired to teach typing and business skills. When Fanny realizes that she, Sylvia, and Olive have the skills to hunt down the Irish Channel Ripper, she's determined to make it happen.

H: How awesome! I know extremely little about Settlement houses so I appreciate that bit of info!

Do you intend Fanny to have more adventures in crime-solving?

AB: I can't keep Fanny down! As much the act of murder breaks her heart, she grows to enjoy the hunt for the Irish Channel Ripper. Detective work gives her the opportunity to use her intelligence and flex her new muscles. And yes, I'm already writing a sequel; this adventure takes place in New Orleans' very romantic but very dangerous French Quarter.

H: I’m excited to hear that she will have more mysteries to solve!

What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of writing and publishing?

AB: Historical fiction is known for being a "good, long read", and a lot of these books have anywhere from 110K to 130K words. That's a lot of story! And that's a lot of time for readers to spend reading one story. Especially when there are so many good books to read.

So I've challenged myself to tell Fanny's next story in fewer words. At the same time I need to make sure that I do justice to the needs and wants of each character. And that includes Gilded Age New Orleans, which is one of my biggest characters! So, big challenge!

H: Especially considering it isn’t one of those locations that people have a lot of experience with as a setting!

Thank-you for taking the time today to stop and chat! I can’t wait to check out your book.

03_Ana Brazil

A native of California, Ana Brazil lived in the south for many years. She earned her MA in American history from Florida State University and traveled her way through Mississippi as an architectural historian. Ana loves fried mullet, Greek Revival colonnades, and Miss Welty’s garden. She has a weakness for almost all things New Orleans. (Although she’s not sure just how it happened…but she favors bluegrass over jazz.)

The Fanny Newcomb stories celebrate the tenacity, intelligence, and wisdom of the dozens of courageous and outrageous southern women that Ana is proud to call friends.

Although Ana, her husband, and their dog, Traveller, live in the beautiful Oakland foothills, she is forever drawn to the lush mystique of New Orleans, where Fanny Newcomb and her friends are ever prepared to seek a certain justice.

Find Ana Brazil: Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads 

02_Fanny Newcomb

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Book Blurb:

Gilded Age New Orleans is overrun with prostitutes, pornographers, and a malicious Jack the Ripper copycat. As threatening letters to newspaper editors proclaim, no woman is safe from his blade.

Desperate to know who murdered her favorite student, ambitious typewriting teacher Fanny Newcomb launches into a hunt for the self-proclaimed Irish Channel Ripper.

Fanny quickly enlists her well-connected employers—Principal Sylvia Giddings and her sister Dr. Olive—to help, and the women forge through saloons, cemeteries, slums, and houses of prostitution in their pursuit.

Fanny’s good intentions quickly infuriate her longtime beau Lawrence Decatur, while her reckless persistence confounds the talented police detective Daniel Crenshaw. Reluctantly, Lawrence and Daniel also lend their investigative talents to Fanny’s investigation.

As the murderer sets a date for his next heinous crime, can Fanny Newcomb and her crew stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he kills again?

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia


Tour-Wide Giveaway!

As part of the Blog Tour there is a tour-wide giveaway for a paperback copy of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please contact the tour coordinator, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

Giveaway Rules

  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
  • Only one entry per household.
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


Fanny Newcomb

Follow the Tour

04_Fanny Newcomb_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

On the HFVBT Website or on Twitter #FannyNewcombBlogTour

Monday, November 6
Feature at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, November 7
Feature at The Never-Ending Book

Thursday, November 9
Feature at The Bookworm

Sunday, November 12
Review at Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings

Tuesday, November 14
Guest Post at Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, November 15
Guest Post & Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Friday, November 17
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Monday, November 20
Guest Post at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, November 22
Interview at The Maiden’s Court

Monday, November 27
Feature at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots

Friday, December 1
Interview at T’s Stuff

Tuesday, December 5
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, December 6
Feature at A Literary Vacation

Sunday, December 10
Review at WS Momma Readers Nook

Wednesday, December 13
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, December 15
Review & Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books



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