Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, looky here — July’s gone in a flash. For many, I’m sure like a hot flash, but we really don’t need to discuss such things, do we? Instead, let’s do one of my favorite things – Take 5 with a fellow Cozy Cat Press chum, or in this case, two. Rita Gard Seedorf and Margaret Albi Verhoef pen the Moira Edwards Mysteries, set in World War II times. Not only is it an enjoyable read, but also very fascinating in the subject matter and style in which it was written. Settle on in and get to know these ladies and their world.
LETTERS FROM BRACKHAM WOOD is a historical mystery set during WWII in England and America that is in the form of letters written between two cousins: Moira Edwards and Margaret Edwards Walker. The two were very close until Margaret and her family immigrated to the United States, leaving Moira and her parents in England. Their correspondence begins years later in 1937 when Moira finds a long lost address and, frightened by the strange behavior of her woman employer, writes her cousin.
As the book begins he two women are very different. After the early death of her parents Moira stayed alive by finding positions as a maid-of-all work in England while Margaret had become a one of the first woman physician in the U.S. Their relationship changes during the course of the story. At the beginning Margaret encourages her cousin to take chances and try new things. By the end, she urges Moira to proceed with caution.
2. Being that there are two of you, how do you write? Do you compose separately, or talk it out as you go along together, share or divide up characters, scenes or research?
We meet often for coffee and discuss many many things but not specifically what each character is going to do. We want that to be a surprise so that our character can react to each letter after she receives it just as she would in a real correspondence. We did talk much about what was going on the world at that time. Since the story took place during WWII, there are resources aplenty.
3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”
The first two events after the book was released: one at the Eastern Washington University bookstore, which had transformed itself into a venue for a three-author book signing and our first presentation at a retirement community. But there were other moments as well. We grin like Cheshire cats every time we are asked where we found the letters. We reply proudly: “We wrote them.” In one group a woman answered angrily: “Well, I thought they were real and so did my sister and she is sitting right here beside me.”
Meetings with book groups whose members have read the book are also very affirming. The biggest ego boost is when they begin to argue about what Margaret and Moira should or shouldn’t have done. Our characters live!
However, to be perfectly honest, it is still a little hard to believe that we are authors – perhaps our next book, which will carry our characters into the post war era – will convince us.
4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
Because we each wrote a different character, we kept each other going. When it was not our turn to write we both did a great deal of research on what was happening in our character’s place and time. The tricky thing about writing a historical mystery is that even though it did not actually happen, the events surrounding the story need to be accurate.
When we run out of ideas the two of us pretty much do the same thing: take a walk, do something else until the words cool, or read a different book.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
Jacqueline Winspear, Dorothy L Sayers, Rhys Bowen, Charles Todd. These authors allow us to live in another era and propel us through their books with a mystery. We both like historical mysteries because they allow us to time travel and let us imagine what it would be like to live in another time and place, particularly as a woman.
Thank you so much for taking the time for our little confab, ladies. And friends, be sure to read LETTERS FROM BRACKHAM WOOD on Kindle, as well as like it on Facebook, and check out a great article in their local paper, THE SPOKESMAN REVIEW.