|Young Charles Dickens|
Critically acclaimed author Heather Redmond is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century. Learn more about her and her writing at her website.
Charles Dickens, Amateur Sleuth
Do you remember your first Charles Dickens novel? Mine was an adolescent-size abridgement of David Copperfield. This was followed by a tattered copy of Oliver Twist that my father passed down when I was sixteen. By my early twenties I was reading Dickens for pleasure, fascinated by the rich characters he created and imagining that I walked the streets of London with him. I remember visiting my childhood bedroom, by then the guestroom at my parents’ house, and reading Pickwick for the first of many times. Later, when I picked up a biography of Dickens, I was turned off by certain aspects of his later life. Still, his work and times stuck in my brain. He was a man born in the Regency times that so fascinate writers and readers but helped create the great Victorian age.
It’s often hard to explain why a writer decides to bring a real-life person into a novel, to reanimate an individual and their era. The fact that he’d become a virtual overnight success fascinated me. Obviously, I’ve been reading Charles Dickens’s novels since childhood, but I had no idea he’d become a literary star so young, only in his early twenties, and with so little formal education to inform his great works. We’re perennially interested in Shakespeare for some of the same reasons.
The idea of Dickens as a young man on the cusp of greatness intrigued me. I wanted to bring this brilliant and charismatic soul to life. In my favor, I had written many romance novels set in the Victorian age he strode so broadly across and had some idea of what I was getting into with this kind of project.
There have been a few novels written with Charles Dickens as a character, but it’s very rare
him portrayed as young, or even out of a paranormal fantasy context. I know we
love him for A Christmas Carol, but
he wrote a lot more stories than that! I wanted readers to see him as the
vibrant, striving, and wildly intelligent young man determined to make
something of himself, in between the tragedies of his youth and his middle age.
I also wanted to study his relationship with Catherine Hogarth, his Kate, whose
ill-starred romance seemed so perfect back at the beginning in 1835…
Charles Dickens at twenty-two, in 1835, seemed an ideal sleuth for a historical mystery series. As a reporter, he was trained to observe and record. Who better to hunt down a killer? Every sleuth needs a sidekick. While I developed a cast of characters to work alongside Dickens, his Scottish-born future bride added a touch of extra magic to the proceedings.
I hope readers enjoy the mysteries I’ve created and find themselves eager to learn more about Dickens’s novels and times.
A Tale of Two Murders
On the eve of the Victorian era, London has a new sleuth . . .
In the winter of 1835, young Charles Dickens is a journalist at the Evening Chronicle. Invited to dinner at his editor’s estate, Charles is smitten with his boss's daughter, vivacious Kate Hogarth. They are having the best of times when a scream shatters the evening. Charles and Kate rush to the neighbors' home, where Christiana Lugoson lies dying on the floor. With a twist or two in this most peculiar case, he and Kate may be in for the worst of times . . .