Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is coming out in mid-July 2018, electronically. A free preview is available right now. All formats are priced at a very reasonable US$3.99!!
A print-on-demand version will follow for the benefit of people who prefer paper and don’t mind feeding a big gorilla of book publishing.
What is this book? It’s historical fiction with humor, cozy commentary and peculiar characters.
How long is it? It’s not very long because I didn’t know any better.
Set in 1895, when life was hard and death was not for amateurs, Undertakers, Harlots and Other Odd Bodies is a galloping gaslit tale of Victorian incompetence, set on the least fortunate riverbank in Maryland. Women and men of motley descent vie for independence while learning their trades the hard way. Heartbreaking and hilarious at turns, its unreasonably hopeful characters wend their way toward the new century and a new kind of home, finding friendship in a place where they have little reason to expect it.
It’s the first in a planned series of three books following the mis-adventures of the imaginary residents of the Port. During my exhausting–if not exhaustive–research, I uncovered so many surprising ways for Victorians to die that three volumes may not be enough.
Why did I write this? The first germ of the idea came from reading a very touching remembrance written by a woman whose father had been a small town undertaker. He was a dreamer and a doting dad, but he developed a reputation for being very cold and awkward at delivering bad news. He bought an old mansion with the intention to spruce it up for the family, but it never became their main home. Instead, the house was vandalized regularly and it’s undeserved reputation grew, just as his had.
My image of that misunderstood undertaker sparked with my memories of funeral home rivalries that were kept alive in my family’s history and after that, the ideas would not leave me alone. My previous writing about depression-era family history was fittingly washed away in a flood, just like most of the town of Bladensburg had been regularly washed away by the river. (I decided not to name the town in my stories, because Bladensburg has had enough trouble without me picking on her too).
I chose the time period of 1895-96 because it interested me more than the prohibition-era history. By the 1920s, the town was racially segregated and by the 1930s it’s unique character as a river town was lost and it became indistinguishable from the other surrounding suburbs. I prefer to spend time in the place where people were excited about the future, where segregation hadn’t taken hold yet and freed slaves and immigrants worked on escaping their American nightmares side by side.
If you enjoy the book, please let me know. If you’d rather complain about it, definitely let me know!!