|Scottish Village by Shelley Adina|
Author Shelley Adina writes contemporary romance and steampunk, and as Adina Senft she writes women’s fiction set among the Amish and other plain communities. She holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction and is working on a PhD in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing, Shelley is usually painting, sewing historical costumes, or hanging out in the garden with her flock of rescued chickens. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
Thanks so much for having me in to visit today! I’m so excited about my first cozy mystery, The Bride Wore Constant White, that I can’t wait to tell your readers about it.
Steampunk readers know me best for my Magnificent Devices series of twelve adventure novels featuring young ladies of intelligence and resources. When I came to the end of that series, I wanted to try something different, and since I’m a mystery reader, my path seemed clear! The only trouble is, I soon found that cozies are fiendishly difficult to write well. I called in reinforcements—Victoria Thompson (the Gaslight Mysteries) and Nancy Warren (the Toni Diamond mysteries), who set me on the right track.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed different kinds of crafting. I’ve been sewing and costuming since I was small, and enjoy quilting, too. I even created a quiltpattern based on a quilt from 1868 to go in my Amish Quilt trilogy (written as Adina Senft), which was more math than I ever want to contemplate again in my life! But lately I’ve been trying to learn to paint in watercolors. For decades I thought this was a hopeless dream, because I never progress any further than stick figures. But then I took a weekend class with the local art society....
When the Mysterious Devices spinoff series began cooking in my head, I had already learned that watercolorists look at the world differently. They see color in hues, shades, and mixes that other people simply disregard. They see shadow, and white space, and the telling detail that can bring an entire painting into focus.
What better talent for an amateur sleuth than to be a watercolorist? Who better to observe a scene and note detail, colors, and what might be missing? And so Daisy Linden was born.
Then, to my delight, I found in researching the pigments that would have been in use in the late 1800s that they had really nifty names. No Quinachridone Gold here! Suddenly I had a naming scheme for my series titles: The [Victim] Wore [Watercolor Tint]. Perfect!
The Bride Wore Constant White
The Dancer Wore Opera Rose
The Lady Wore Venetian Red
The Governess Wore Payne’s Gray
The Judge Wore Lamp Black
The Soldier Wore Prussian Blue
I really wanted to find a use for Caput Mortuum Violet, which was a byproduct of sulfuric acid, or Egyptian Brown, which was originally made from ground-up mummies(!) But use of Egyptian Brown was discontinued in the 19th century when artists realized what it was made of, and I didn’t want poor Daisy to be carrying around anything that smacked of sulfuric acid, so I had to let those colors go.
Each story takes place in either a ghost town or a town with a distinct history, such as San Francisco or Port Townsend. While my steampunk books are alt-history—meaning that while there are plenty of fabulous steam trains, there are also airships, steam landaus, and other interesting machinery—it’s fun to research these towns and include bits of their real history.
For instance, I was in Georgetown, Colorado, to speak at a writers’ conference last summer, and fell in love with the place. Daisy and Freddie stay in the Hotel de Paris, which conveniently for my subgenre was actually steam-heated. The bride comes to a cottage on Rose Street that is delightfully real today. And best of all—Nicola Tesla, the genius and the unofficial godfather of steampunk, built a power plant there. I toured the plant, and then let my imagination go wild with what all that lightning and electricity could do!
The Dancer Wore Opera Rose takes place in Santa Fe, which in my world is the capital of the Texican Territories, and in the real world is one of my all-time favorite cities. The Lady Wore Venetian Red will be set in the ghost town of Bodie, California, which I’ll visit in June to steep myself in the lore and history of this boom-and-bust town. The Lady, I’m thinking, is a matchmaker, so I can’t wait for Daisy to find out what happens to her!
And in each place, while solving mysteries and searching for her missing father with the help of a couple of street children and a snake-oil salesman, my heroine is painting: landscapes, portraits, and—oh yes!—sometimes even clues.
And now that I’ve talked your ear off, it’s time for me to get back to writing. As they say on a real airship when it’s time to lift off—Up ship!
The Bride Wore Constant White
Daisy Linden is a young woman of gentle upbringing, some talent as a watercolorist, and firm opinions that often get her into trouble. Determined to find their missing father, in the summer of 1895 she and her sister Freddie set out for the last place he was seen: the Wild West. On the journey, a friendship blooms between Daisy and Miss Emma Makepeace, who is traveling to Georgetown in the Texican Territories as a mail-order bride. When Emma asks if she will be her bridesmaid, Daisy is delighted to accept.
But the wedding day dawns on a dreadful discovery. Within hours the Texican Rangers have their man—but Daisy is convinced he cannot have killed her friend. She must right this terrible mistake before he hangs … and before the real culprit realizes that two very observant young ladies are not going to allow him to get away with it …