Sunday, January 1, 2017

Mary Miley

Mary Miley is the winner of the 2012 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Novel Competition. She grew up in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and France, and worked her way through the College of William and Mary in Virginia as a costumed tour guide at Colonial Williamsburg. After completing her masters in history, she worked at the museum and taught American history at Virginia Commonwealth University. As Mary Miley Theobald, she has published numerous nonfiction books and articles on history, travel, and business topics.

In 2013 Miley introduced her Roaring Twenties series with The Impersonator, then followed it with Silent Murders. Her new novel, the third book in the series, is Renting Silence.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
The books I read for pleasure are different from the ones I read for work-related research. During the day, I’m generally reading nonfiction for work—not that that’s torture, mind you; I usually enjoy those books very much. But I’m also usually taking notes, so it feels like homework. After dinner, I go to bed early and read for fun, mostly historical mysteries. I probably average two novels a week.

In the past month, my bedtime reading has included The Shell Game by Sarah Shaber, a contemporary mystery set in North Carolina academia involving professors, archaeologists, and a PhD. candidate; Devil’s Cold Dish by Eleanor Kuhns, the fifth in her mystery series set in 1790s New England with an itinerant weaver who has a knack for solving murders; and The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman, another historical novel set on St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, that focuses on the true story of the Jewish mother of painter Camille Pissarro—one of my favorite Impressionists. I read others, but they were not as good as these three, so I won’t bother to name them.

I read a lot of nonfiction too. These books relate to my own writing and consist largely of histories, biographies, and autobiographies relating to the Roaring Twenties. The prize of the year (for me) goes to Harry Houdini’s A Magician Among the Spirits, published in 1924, where the great magician attempts to debunk the Spiritualists and other mediums who prey on gullible people, pretending to connect them with the spirits of their loved ones. I learned a lot that I can incorporate in my own new series about a young woman in 1924 in Chicago who works as a shill for a fake medium. A biography titled Pickford: the Woman who Made Hollywood, provided a fascinating glimpse into Mary Pickford’s life as an actress and film studio owner, as did The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, an autobiography by Frederica Sagor Maas where she tells all about the scandals of the silent film era.
Visit Mary Miley's website, blog, and Facebook page.

The Page 69 Test: Renting Silence.

--Marshal Zeringue