I’ve always been attracted to ghosts and people of the past. My dream house is to have a graveyard for a back-yard with old tombstones graced by angels.
As a young child I would sit for hours and listen to my Grandmother McCleary, my Grandfather Lachowich and my Great Aunt Edna, tell me stories of their childhood, the lives of people they knew, and living in the 19th century.
They were born before cars, TV, radio, computers, ATM machines, cell phones, airplanes…so many things we take for granted.
They were just like Nellie Bly, my heroine in The Alchemy of Murder.
My Grandmother McCleary was especially like Nellie—independent, determined, believing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and never taking no for an answer.
To me the past has always been much more fascinating than the present. I’ll never forget when I was ten years old and our fifth grade class went to the New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art to see an exhibit from Egypt—there was a pyramid, mummies, beautiful artifacts…I became enchanted and fell hopelessly in love with the past.
I also believe my love for the past came from being born in Seoul, South Korea and living in Hong Kong, Japan, and the Philippines...I was weaned on cultures that have been around for millenniums.
From the Far East we moved back to the USA and into a charming brick house in Pelham, Westchester County, New York.
At thirteen, we moved to my father's hometown in Colfax, California (population exactly 999), an old western town with six bars, one grocery store, and railroad tracks running down the center.
Today, I live in scenic Cape Cod in an antique house built in 1772. In much of the world, living in a house over 200 years old isn't unusual, but in America it isn't common.
My house, however, is very special because it is haunted by the spirit of Maggie Duffy, a woman born in it over 150 years ago and who lived her entire life in the house. I guess she just didn’t want to leave when it was her time to pass on. Maggie is a very mischevious ghost, so much so that the cautious lawyer who sold me the house listed her spirit in the contract as part of the furnishings of the house.
I’ve also had visitations from a sea captain who is very taciturn. My guess is that he was Maggie’s lover. From the silence, I suspect it wasn’t a public affair.
Like Maggie, Nellie’s life didn’t exactly go the way she desired and neither had mine…but, we move forward constantly trying to make it the best we can, something I learned from my Grandmother and all the wise people I’ve been very lucky to have in my life.
Then one day a friend introduced me to Nellie Bly – a woman who reminded me of my Grandmother and of all the things I love the most…the past. I decided to take an incredible lady whose voice has been set aside and tried to bring it back to life.
The Alchemy of Murder is a labor of love and trepidation as I try to remain true to Nellie Bly, but also bring her back in a way that is entertaining. Hopefully, I have been successful.