{Thrice Burned Blog Tour} Creating 1930s London: A Guest Post with Angela Misri

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Thrice Burned by Angela Misri (Fierce Ink Press) hit stores this month and that means it’s blog tour time!

In this sequel to Jewel of the Thames, our heroine Portia Adams is lacking confidence after she nearly put an innocent person in prison, while still reeling from the knowledge that she is related to the famous Holmes and Watson. But with new cases to solve and reporters after her identity, Portia will need to shake off her woes and tighten her boot laces, because the people of London need her help.

It is my pleasure to welcome Angela Misri to the blog today! Read on to find out why Angela loves the ’30s, and how she gets a feel for the long-ago era.

***

angela misriWhen I think about the eras in which I would love to base my stories in, the 1930s is by far one of my favourites. That window between the World Wars fascinates me—from the radical changes in technology to the revolutionary leaps women were able to take as they picked up the work their husbands and brothers were forced to leave behind.
I feel like if the setting is already so dynamic and changing, how can it not become its own character in your story?
     That’s the way I approach writing about Portia Adams in 1930s Toronto and London—I treat the setting with as much gravitas as my detective.
     That means a lot of research into everything about the time period. I start with historical events, researching significant events such as the politics of the time, the social morays, and the economics. When it comes to the 1930s any kind of research has to start with the Great Depression, which had taken hold of most of the western world and dictated many changes in society that Portia both benefits from and suffers through. The First World War has moved the dial on women’s rights significantly by the time our young detective comes of age, but its still not common to see a female detective hang up a shingle, even if that shingle is hung at Baker Street! That means that not only is Portia a fish out of water in terms of being a Canadian transplanted to London, but she is also taking up the mantle of the very male detectives who came before her.
     Once I feel like I have the setting established in my mind, I have to immerse myself in the dialogue of the era. This means watching a lot of old movies (twist my rubber arm!) and reading speeches and newspaper articles published in the 30s. This is probably the part of the research I find hardest because it’s nearly impossible to fact-check. You’re trying to imitate a manner of speaking that no longer exists outside of film and radio recordings.
     That brings me to my favourite part of writing in 1930s London: the mysteries. Once I have an idea about ‘the crime’ that Portia is going to solve, I get to do tonnes of research on like-crimes committed in the time period. So for example, in researching arson for Thrice Burned, I read as many newspaper articles as I could about the motivations and methodology of the criminals accused and the corresponding police work done to bring them to justice. I always find this kind of research the best because it will surprise you again and again just how clever criminals can be in the pursuit of their loot.
     And that’s how I write historical fiction!
***
Thrice BurnedAngela Misri is a Toronto journalist, writer and mom, who has spent most of her working life making CBC radio extraterrestrial through podcasts, live streams and websites. These days she’s focusing on her writing but taking on freelance and digital projects along the side.
Find her online at aportiaadamsadventure.com and on Twitter, @karmicangel.
Check out the rest of the blog tour stops here.
Thrice Burned by Angela Misri is available March 24, 2015!

 

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