Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Louisa May Alcott Mystery Series - Meet Author Anna Mclean

Welcome author Anna Maclean the creator of the Louisa May Alcott Mystery Series!  
I asked Anna to tell us about a journey that changed her.  And I began it all with part of a sentence.  

Life Hasn’t Been Quite the Same Since…

And here's what Anna had to say:
I traveled to Egypt some years ago by myself and with low funds, to put it mildly, so I stayed in some pretty strange hotels.  Whenever possible, I stayed in youth hostels and there was a very exotic one in Cairo, full of sand-colored stone and potted palms.

I was alone there on New Year's Eve, so the hostel keeper invited me to celebrate with his family.  And celebrate we did:  dozens of dishes, all deep-fried and very spicy, and lots of wine. (They weren't strict Muslims.)  On the stroke of midnight, my host took an armful of empty wine bottles and tossed them out the window!  Judging by the sounds from the street, everyone else did the same.  The next morning, the streets were filled with glass and all the cars had flat tires and I thought I had never seen a stranger version of out with the old and in with the new.  Yet it was a New Year's Eve I'll never forget, filled with food and music and a little wildness, and the wonderful kindness of strangers.

I was a more trusting person after that night, still filled with the crazy fearlessness of youth that allows you to travel alone to distant places, but also filled with a sense that the world, and its people, can be a very wonderful place.

An excerpt from Louisa and The Missing Heiress 
by Anna Maclean

          The clock chimed four-thirty. I sighed and stirred, tapping my foot more quickly under the concealing hem of my brown linsey-woolsey skirts. Where was our hostess? Surely she could have tried on every hat in Boston by now.  Had she forgotten? Dot had never been the quickest mind – she had wept over fractions and torn her hair over South American rivers – but to completely forget her own welcome-home tea party!

            I looked outside the room into the hall.  The huge, ornate coat tree was close enough to the parlor that every time I looked in that direction and saw Mr. Wortham’s velvet coat hanging there on its hook, I had the eerie sense that someone else was standing there, watching.  Something strange, hostile, dangerous, floated through that house where newlyweds should have been so happy.

            Much as I wished to see Dot, I decided it was time to leave. Abba was waiting for me at home with a basket of clothing to clean and mend for the women’s shelter and other tasks with which society could not be bothered.  Mr. Wortham was standing at the bay window, looking out into the street.  I went to him.

            “I do hope Dot is all right.  This is not like her.”

            “I fear a year in Europe may have changed her,” he said.  “It is liberating to travel, you know.”  But he was frowning and his dark eyes seemed darker than usual.

Praise for Anna Maclean and the Louise May Alcott mysteries:

"Anna Maclean shows us a side of Louisa May Alcott we never suspected in this fascinating new mystery series." ~Victoria Thompson, author of the Gaslight Mystery series

"I was instantly drawn into the characters and culture of America in the 1850's. Cozy mystery lovers, this is your cup of tea." ~Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author of the Queen Elizabeth I mystery series

"This novel reveals that my great-great-aunt had a secret career that none of us knew about. It's great fun and a page-turner, and it uses the morals and mores of time and place to delightful effect." ~John Pratt, great-great-nephew of Louisa May Alcott
Jeanne Mackin is the author of several novels:  The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press).   She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including  American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications)  and co-editor of  The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton),  and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines.  She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C.  She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe.  She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie,  in upstate New York.

Anna will be giving away a Victorian tea cup and saucer to one randomly drawn commenter.


Ryshia Kennie said...

Anna - Welcome! I'm excited to have you hear and love the premise of your book. Louise and the Missing Heiress sounds like an intriguing read. I love the tie to a classic but with a twist.

Teresa said...

Hello Anna!

It is very exciting to meet you here on Ryshia's blog. Welcome!!

Wow!! Travelling to Egypt on your own!! I am envious of your bravery and in awe of your adventurous spirit. Do you pass these qualities onto your heroine Louisa in your series? How did you lead your research to write about this Louisa May Alcott? Your book sounds like I'm going to have some great summer reading ahead of me! Thank you for coming and sharing!

Anna Maclean said...

Ryshia, thank you so much for inviting me here, and thanks for that great way to begin a post.

Teresa, I did give Louisa big dose of courage. She faces some pretty difficult situations in the novel. The research involved rereading Louisa Alcott's works and then learning about specific topics: childbirth techniques, nineteenth century autopsies, etc. Great fun! Thank you for visiting!

Ryshia Kennie said...

You're welcome, Anna it's great to have you. Love hearing about how you delved into the past and the odd twists your research took.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading your book. Hope some day I can go to Egypt.

campfirestars said...

Anna - Your latest book sounds pretty exiting. Can't wait to give it a read! Your comment about reseraching historic autopsey's has glued my attention. What was the most unique fact/info you discovered--please share?!

Ryshia Kennie said...

Thanks to Anna for stopping by. For those of you who might still have some unanswered questions - Anna's next stop will be today, June 16 at: Fresh Fiction's Salute to Louisa May Alcott Week (

Good luck Anna with the rest of your tour!

Anonymous said...

Hi Campfirestarters,
the historic autopsies were very interesting. I think the most startling fact I discovered in that research was more of an impression, that medical ventures were based on such a small amount of knowledge . It was really a guessing game, to some extent.