Monday, September 30, 2013

You Always Find the Good Stuff...

after you've finished writing your story.  I was looking around on the internet, searching for some interesting tidbits to post about in the runup to the release of India Black and the City of Light, when I stumbled upon Victorian Paris.  Parisian whores!  Parisian food!  Parisian sewers!

And don't forget, City of Light is available tomorrow, October 1st.

Friday, September 27, 2013


India indulges herself with thoughts of chocolate and pastries at one of Paris's patisseries.  Alas, she's destined not to have any treats while she's in Paris.

"La Patisserie" by Jean Beraud (1889).  Yes, I know there's a diacritical mark missing from his name.  There's one missing from "Eugenie" in an earlier post, as well.  I confess, I'm too lazy to putter around until I figure out how to add it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Great Game

India Black and the City of Light is set against the backdrop of the "Great Game" between Russia and Great Britain.  For nearly a hundred years, from approximately 1813-1907, the Brits and the Russkis conducted a contest to see who would be master of Central Asia.  The Brits wanted to protect India (the country, that is, not our heroine) from Russian advances, and so spent a significant amount of time bribing the tribes living north and west of the colony to stay loyal to Britain.  When that didn't work, Britain brought out the guns.

For their part, the Russians kept probing south and east toward India.  The two never came to blows, but the Russians devoted quite a bit of time to poking Britain and watching the folks in London and Delhi jump.

French is off to Paris to exchange a Russian spy for a British agent, who has been picked up by the Russians while spying on their military in a Central Asian country.  India gets to play a small role in the Great Game.

The Great Game is the subject of one of the finest novels of espionage ever written:  Kim, by Rudyard Kipling.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Les Egouts de Paris

Did you know that you can take a tour of the sewers of Paris?  India takes one in the forthcoming India Black and the City of Light, but she doesn't pay for the privilege.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


While she's in Paris, India wants to stop by the House of Guerlain (est. 1828) for some perfume.  She will likely select the Eau de Cologne Imperiale, which was created for the Empress Eugenie in 1853.  It sounds quite nice, with its "rich lime and lime flower notes" (per Wikipedia).

Guerlain is still in business today, with thirteen locations in Paris, including their famous shop (pictured above) at 68, Champs Elysees, opened in 1914.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

City of Light

Ahem.  I was looking at my calendar the other day and realized that my digital short India Black in the City of Light will be available on October 4th, which is a few short days away.  The "City of Light" is, of course, Paris, where the story is set.  French is on his way to the city to exchange a Russian spy for a British agent, and India inserts herself into the assignment.  Much of the action takes place on Montmartre, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

It's beautiful today, but at the time of the story it was just under construction.  Here's what the site looked like when India and French were there.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Victorian Oddities

Can I interest you in a few desktop accessories?  How about this?

Or this?

Or perhaps your taste runs to this?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

This is Creepy

A few idle pecks on the computer, and I found myself looking at this:

This is one of several photos from an article about the "Strangest Tradition" of the Victorian era:  postmortem photography.  You can read the whole thing here, if you're so inclined.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Writers' Rooms

I never get tired of looking at the rooms where writers work.  An example below (photo from the NY Times).

Friday, September 6, 2013

Agatha Christie Rides Again

British author Sophie Hannah will be writing a new Hercule Poirot mystery.  The Christie literary estate is owned and managed by her grandson Matthew Prichard and he has granted permission to use the famous character.  I'll be reading this to see just how Hannah handles the material.  I'd be completely intimidated at the thought of carrying on Christie's legacy.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Library Journal

The Library Journal just did an article about the popularity of fiction set in the Victorian era, and India rated a recommendation from this esteemed journal.  It's particularly flattering to get a mention in the same paragraph as Tasha Alexander and Louis Bayard.

"David Morrell’s newest thriller, Murder as a Fine Art , works as a fine introduction to Victoriana for newbies. It weaves in distinctly 19th-century elements but is as accessible as any Dan Brown title. Do try these as well: Caro Peacock, aka Gillian Linscott (the Liberty Lane series), Philip Gooden (the Thomas Ansell series), Tasha Alexander (the Lady Emily Ashton series), Alex Grecian ( The Yard The Black Country ), Gyles Brandreth (the Oscar Wilde series), Charles Finch (the Charles Lenox series), Carol Carr (the India Black series), Louis Bayard ( Mr. Timothy ), Sally Spencer (the Inspector Sam Blackstone series), and Edward Marston (the Railway Detective series). Outside the box is Tabish Khair’s The Thing About Thugs, which sets an Indian protagonist in Victorian London. And doing her bit for cross blending, Joanna Campbell Slan has two hot titles in her new Jane Eyre series."

Monday, September 2, 2013


I've read a lot about the Victorian era over the years, so I'm familiar with most of the events and personalities from that age.  But every time I write one of the India novels, I have to bone up on certain specific topics.  A good starting point is this website, which has a wealth of material available.

The internet in general is a great source of information.  I can't believe how much material has been uploaded in the last ten years.  It takes my breath away.  Who knew you'd be able to find pictures of Victorian-era bombs and directions on how to make them?  Or photos of India's Webley Bulldog revolver?  Or the rate at which horses and carriages could travel?  It's a cornucopia of data you probably don't need to know, but it sure is fun reading this stuff.  Sometimes, it's too much fun.  I have to remind myself that all good research must come to an end and the writing has to begin.