Tag: Blessed be the Wicked

Blessed be the Wicked

D.A. Bartley's Blessed Be the Wicked

 How lucky am I to be blogging the week that our own Miss Demeanor, D.A. Bartley’s Bless Be the Wicked, is launched. I got to hear her fascinating answers to these questions first. Your book releases today, what’s the day look like for you? Alison: I’m in Utah visiting my Dad, which makes the pub date particularly special because I get to share it with him. Tomorrow, I’ll be reading and signing at The King’s English. If you know Salt Lake, you know that TKE is one of the world’s most wonderful independent bookstores. It’s a place run by book lovers for book lovers. If you’re in the area, please stop by at 7:00 pm. I’d love to see you!  You live in New York City, but the Abish Taylor series is set in Utah. Why? Alison: My grandma loved to point out that I come from sturdy pioneer stock. I do. My ancestors arrived in Deseret—now Utah—in the late 1840s and 50s. Most pushed handcarts​​ from New York to the Salt Lake valley, although it’s rumored a few could afford covered wagons. Whenever I feel like complaining about walking a few extra blocks, I think of walking across the plains in winter. Suddenly, ten blocks in mid-town Manhattan isn’t so bad.  You’re an attorney with a Ph.D. in political science. How did you come to write a murder mystery?  Alison: The very first grown up book I ever read was an Agatha Christie. Both my mom and grandma were big readers, especially of murder mysteries. My mom passed away a few years ago after a ten-year struggle with Alzheimer’s. I was in Utah a lot during those years. On one visit, I went to a friend’s house north of Salt Lake. There was an enormous home at the end of her street with an amazing view of the mountains. It had been empty for a few years after the housing bubble burst. When I got back to New York, I couldn’t get that house out of my head. What could happen in a place like that? One morning, I just sat down and wrote. That might have been the end of it except for a week later my daughter suffered a moderate concussion and couldn’t read or look at screens. (She’s fine now and off to college next week!) She didn’t like the audio books I’d gotten her. She asked me to read what I was writing. When I finished the seventh chapter, she asked me what happened next. I didn’t know. She said, “Mom, go write more.” So I did. That’s how it went until she recovered. By then, I had written a good chunk of the story.  What can you tell us about your protagonist, Detective Abish Taylor? Alison: Abbie is trying to re-start her life. In Blessed be the Wicked, she’s still reeling from having lost her husband. She had been living in New York, having left her state, family, and religion behind. Suddenly alone, she decides to move back to Utah to be near family, but her relationship with them is strained.  Her father, a respected LDS historian, doesn’t understand why his daughter left the Church, and she doesn’t understand why he’s still a member. Family is just the first of Abbie’s problems. The death is a reminder of a dark history, a history powerful people would prefer stays forgotten.   I hear the first murder has some religious overtones, is that true? Alison: Yes. When Abbie sees the first body, she recognizes the hallmarks of a ritual discussed in the early days of the Mormon Church. LDS scholars and historians debated blood atonement as late as the 1970s, but there are no verifiable examples that anyone was ever killed this way. Of course, as a writer, it’s just too much fun to play around with a macabre doctrine from the 19th century in today’s world. It reminds me how important it is to be mindful about what we believe, and how we believe.  What is your schedule after this? Alison: Besides helping my daughter move into her dorm next week? I’ll be at Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida where I’ll be on the panel discussing religion in mysteries on September 9th. On September 17th, I’ll be reading and signing books at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City.   

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Writing: From A to Y

It’s early on Saturday. I’m snuggled in bed with a book:Y is for Yesterday, to be exact. I’m still in my pajamas with the covers pulled up over my knees. My first foray out of bed this morning was to the three-foot stack of TBR (“to be read”) books in the corner of my room.  With some difficulty, I managed to pull Sue Grafton’s last book from somewhere in the middle without causing the entire wobbly tower to collapse. I don’t know how I managed to have not read Y is for Yesterday yet, but I’ll admit my failure and begin to remedy the situation. The only reason I put the book down is because it’s my turn to post for Miss Demeanors this week. I hoped I’d have a brilliant idea for a theme by now, but I don’t.  I looked through my calendar, desperate for something to spark an idea.  Nothing. Then I realized that the next time it’s my turn to post, Blessed be the Wicked will be out. I will be “a published author.”  I looked back at the book I didn’t want to put down and decided that was the theme: getting from A to Y in writing. I can’t offer perspective on what it looks like when you’ve written enough books that you’ve nearly run out of the alphabet for your novels’ titles, but I can give one person’s view from A. So this week I’m going to post about what it’s like at the beginning of the alphabet, just before your first book is published.  The good, the bad, and the ugly . . . and then some more good. I would love to hear from others, so please share your own stories from wherever you are in the alphabet.   

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I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As Maggie Dove begins investigating, she has to go through old high school year books and she’s surprised to see how some of the people she knows have changed. How have you changed since high school (beyond the wrinkles)?        Alison1. Abish has returned home to a state, and religion, she left thinking she’d never return. Now, she’s trying to reconnect with her family and navigate as an outsider in an insider community. How well do you think she gets along with a dominant outlook that differs from her own? 2. The first murder Abish encounters has hallmarks of a deadly ritual supported–in theory–by Brigham Young and other early LDS Church leaders. It has long been forgotten by most, but offers an interesting example of how communities handle dark parts of their own history. Do you think there are any societies that have dealt particularly well or particularly badly with this universal problem of processing ugliness in their own shared past (whether it be slavery, racism, sexism, violence, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, pogroms . . .)? Is there a good template for handling these issues?  Michele1. Sabrina Salter’s gut told her that she and Henry should not take on an eleventh villa, but Henry was insistent and Sabrina relented. How do you know when to follow your gut instinct and not yield to the judgment of others or when to back down?. 2.Sabrina tells Henry at the end of the book, “I’m going back to Boston to meet the grandmother I’ve never seen before it’s too late.” What advice would you offer Sabrina about meeting a grandmother who has chosen to ignore her existence?    Alexia1.In Killing in C Sharp, Gethsemane has to work with someone she despises, someone who once libeled a friend of hers, in order to save people she cares about. How would you handle having to work with someone you disliked? 2. Maja’s relatives got away with her murder. She dealt with the injustice by coming back as a ghost and taking vengeance on not just her relatives, but anyone who reminded her of them. How would you deal with being a victim of injustice?      What questions have you discussed in your book club? Or what questions would you like to discuss if you belonged to a book club? What questions would you offer to readers of your books? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/   

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