Blackmail, Sex and Lies is a story of deception, scandal, and fractured traditional Victorian social values. It is the tale of a naïve, young woman caught up in a whirlwind romance with a much older man. However, both have personality flaws that result in poor choices, and ultimately lead to a tragic end.
For 160 years, people have believed Madeleine Smith to have been guilty of murder. But was she? Could she have been innocent after all?
This Victorian murder mystery, based on a true story, takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, 1857. It explores the disastrous romance between the vivacious socialite, Madeleine Hamilton Smith, and her working class lover, Pierre Emile L’Angelier.
After a two-year torrid, and forbidden relationship with L’Angelier, that takes place against her parents’ wishes, the situation changes dramatically when William Minnoch enters the scene. This new man in Madeleine’s life is handsome, rich, and of her social class. He is also a man of whom her family approve.
Sadly, insane jealous rages, and threats of blackmail, are suddenly silenced by an untimely death.
Kathryn McMaster is a writer, entrepreneur, wife, mother, and champion of good indie authors. She co-owns the book promotion company One Stop Fiction (www.onestopfiction.com), where readers can sign up to receive news of free and discounted 4 and 5 star reviewed books. She is also a bestselling author of historical murder mysteries set in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Her debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” was well received. All her novels are based on true stories, and she melds fact with fiction, writing in the creative nonfiction style. She lives on her 30 acre farm in the beautiful Casentino Valley, Italy for 6 months of the year, and during the other half of the year, on the small island of Gozo, Malta.
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Interview ~ Kathryn McMaster
- What book first ignited your love of reading?
I remember my mother reading to me long before I could ever read on my own. There were so many books, now considered classics that filled my bookcase at a very early age: “Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes”, “Pookie the Rabbit with Wings”, “Paddington Bear”, and all the Beatrix Potter books where Mrs. Tiddlywinks and Peter Rabbit were firm favourites. I have my mother to thank for the hours she spent reading to me, and sharing her love of literature that set the foundation for the pleasure I derive from reading today. So really, there was no one particular book that fired my interest, as I loved them all, and still have these in my bookcase more than half a century later.
- If your current book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
It would be a song called “Arsenic and Old Lace” by Illumani A.D. The first couple of verses were apt considering the story centers around arsenic during the Victorian era, and debates whether Madeleine Smith, the young Glaswegian socialite, could have poisoned her working-class lover, Pierre, Emile L’Angelier.
The end is nigh.
Kiss your lips and taste the wine.
Wide awake, mind reeling,
It’s not your heart now that I’m stealing
But your life, with every breath.
Words echo when nothing’s left.
Crawling through a lake of fire,
Consumed now by desire.
- Which book have you read more than once?
I don’t often read books more than once. There are so many books out there, that to read them again and again, takes away the time for other books. However, “The Rubaiyat” is one I never tire of. I also read D.H. Lawrence’s “The Rainbow” twice, but there was at least a decade between the readings.
- Do you plan your writing or go with the flow?
Because I write books based on true stories I have to plan my books really well. There is an enormous amount of research that goes into the books, and then once I have my researched covered, the chapters are then planned out. However, I do not plan to the nth degree where scenes in each chapter are planned too, as I know some authors do.
- Do you enjoy the editing process?
I have a love-hate relationship with editing. As soon as the book has been finished I leave it for a good few weeks before picking it up again for editing. However, it can be painful and tedious. It can take several weeks before I have finished the editing process, before it goes off to an editor, and by that time I am glad to see the backend of it!
- If you could what advice would you give your sixteen year old self?
Never give up on your dreams and believe in your gut-instincts.
- Do you read your book reviews?
Yes, I do, every one Reviews are incredibly important for an author as it is a benchmark to see if the book has been enjoyed or not. On both sides of the spectrum, it gives insight into what was right or wrong with the book. I try not to let the odd one-star review bother me, and as long as it is constructive criticism, I don’t mind. It is when the review becomes personal, vindictive, or is given because the book did not arrive on time – that it irks.
- What is your opinion on social media and its unique gift of connecting writer and reader instantly?
Working with over 2000 authors in my various author groups I run as a spin-off from our website for readers and writers, One Stop Fiction, social media can be a great way to connect with both readers and writers. Social media gives the authors the ability to talk about their books via the various social media platforms, and the work of bloggers is enormously helpful in getting the exposure authors need. However, social media can also be a huge time-suck, so I try and find a happy medium in using this as a tool to connect with others. Having said that, social media takes up a large portion of my day, and unfortunately, often takes me away from the writing that I would prefer doing.
- If you could give one literary villain a happier ending, who would you pick and why?
I think, because it is still fresh in my mind, I would take Pierre Emile L’Angelier from my latest book, “Blackmail, Sex and Lies”. In the end he died a horrible death from arsenic poisoning. He was a miserable excuse for a man. He started off being charming and attentive, but soon became controlling and abusive towards Madeleine. If he had not died when he did, I think things would have worked themselves out, with Madeleine probably confessing to her mother the trouble she was in. However, the ill timing of his death was just too convenient for Madeleine, which was why most people believed that she had poisoned him. I feel that there is definitely room for doubt that she was guilty, and by not having him die, Madeleine’s life would have turned out differently to how it did in the end. Unfortunately, this story is based on fact, and his death affected her life, right up until the end.
- What are you currently reading?
“The Hit” by David Baldacci
- Where did you get the inspiration for your current novel?
The Madeleine Smith case was one that had been discussed around the family dinner table. When I came across it again, last year, I remembered the conversions, and decided to write a fictionalized account of the story.
- If your book could come with a preemptive message for the reader, what would yours say?
Read the book with an open mind and be prepared to question the evidence.
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Merry Christmas from Kelly & The Team, thank you for all your support and love in 2017.