This story is part of the Catherine Mayfield Mysteries, which includes Malice in Morro Bay, Murder at the Fair, and Murder on the Set. The story is called Mayhem in the Library, weighing in at 4,100 words. (Note: Title was changed from Murder in the Manor. I like the title, but it suggested the setting is England)

Cover showing old home library and a green chair

What was interesting about this story:

If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be writing a historical story, I’d have thought you were joking.

My association with historical has generally been negative because of other writers. I’d attend a convention panel or just look at a website and see writers talk in loving detail about spending a year (or more!) researching before they even started a project. Others on message boards talked about researching as if they were being graded like they were in college. One writer even said he would research the weather for a particular date in history for the 1% of the audience who might know that very obscure fact.

So I was thinking that if that was the level required to do a historical, it was never going to happen. I could not see myself hunting through a university fact for some obscure detail.

I said almost the same thing about science fiction.

But what most writers don’t talk about–probably because they don’t know any better–is that there are ways to work with research for any topic without breaking the bank on time.

In my case, I grew up reading everything Hollywood. Most of the stories I read were from 1940s-1960s. And I grew up in Southern California in the 1970s and visited the places in the stories. I used that as a launch point and then researched things like clothes and cars.

I’d read a private detective novel set in the 1940s. The writer’s nod to the historical side was to give the main character a fedora (that was it!). I was thinking that during this story because I hit on problems that silent film actors had with converting to talkies, as well temperance and Prohibition.

The silent film to talkies was definitely a fun rabbit hole!