“Murder at a Séance” – A 1917 Historical Murder Mystery by Phyllis Heaton

by | Feb 22, 2022 | Author | 0 comments

Murder at a Séance” – A 1917 historical murder mystery.

Thank you for inviting me to bring “Murder at a Séance” to the Author’s Lounge. It’s the second novel in the Sadie Brown series. However, you don’t need to read the first book to enjoy this one.

Every summer from 1800 to 1939 on Coronado Island, California, the legendary Hotel Del Coronado erected a temporary Tent City situated beachside. There was an abundance of entertainment for children and adults: kiddie pools for the little ones. full-sized plunges for the grownups, band concerts, cafes, a grocery store, a library, a dance pavilion, diving horses, talent shows, even a couple of fortune-tellers.

In 1917, a phony palm reader who called herself Madam Valesky, set up shop in Tent No. 1077. She knew a dangerous secret and a killer couldn’t wait to shut her up for good. Attending Madam Valesky’s final séance was Sadie Brown, a young aviatrix and newspaper reporter. When the lights went out, Valesky was murdered. Horrified, Sadie was determined to catch the killer no matter where it took her — even to a naval town near San Francisco gearing up for the Great War.

My storyline was inspired by two things: an old postcard of Hotel Del Coronado’s Tent City taken in the early 1900s, and reading an old newspaper where spiritualists, psychics, and crystal ball gazers were advertising in the personal ads. And while I have no particular opinion about Spiritualism, it was big business during the turn of the last century. And the writer in me thought a seance would make a lovely place to kill someone when the lights were out.

My target reader is a woman, middle-aged and above, who enjoys murder mysteries that are between a cozy and a thriller. More Agatha Christie and less Stephen King. Also, the reader enjoys a curious, strong female lead who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo of where a women’s place is supposed to be in 1917. Certainly not piloting a biplane, writing newspaper articles, or sticking her nose where it didn’t belong.

I want my readers to be transported from their everyday, COVID-stressed life to another time, another place — pulled into another world for an hour or two or three. I want them to find the satisfaction of following the clues, the twists and turns, and be amused by quirky characters until the moment the killer is revealed.

My future plans for the book are to keep advertising and do more book signings when the COVID situation has deflated. I recently advertised the eBook on Written Word Media’s Freebooksy. That resulted in 3,341 eBooks being downloaded. The downloads brought the book up to #1 on Amazon’s free kindle Historical Mystery list for 24 hours. It was lovely to see that and print it out for my Positivity Board.

The third Sadie Brown book in the series is now available on Amazon, and the fourth is being written. I’ve finished the first draft and working on the first rewrite. It usually takes me three or four rewrites before it’s sent to my copy editor.

At seventy-nine, I’m a prime example of the expression: “it’s never too late.” I’ve been writing off and on since I was ten. I took classes and sent off a short story here and there. But honestly, nothing set my world on fire until I retired and I had a conversation about a story that had been percolating in my brain for twenty years. The person I was talking with said, “If you don’t write it now, when will you?” That was May 2017, and I have been writing every day since. As a pantser, I can’t wait to wake up in the morning and find out what’s going to happen next.

This is a link to “Murder at a Séance.” It’s available on Amazon.com as an eBook, on KindleUnlimited, and as a paperback. Happy reading.

Murder At A Seance: Miss Sadie Brown & the Death of Madam Valesky by [P. Austin Heaton]


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