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GUEST BLOG: Writing Strong Female Characters in Historical Fiction by Stacie Murphy Plus Giveaway!

Imagine this: you open a novel and find a main character who does exactly what she’s supposed to do at every turn. Our hypothetical heroine adheres to the conventions of her time, whatever those happen to be. She ruffles no feathers, raises no eyebrows, and everyone around her praises her as a model of propriety. Probably you would find her insufferable. You would certainly find her dull. That’s because interesting characters, no matter their historical era, are interesting precisely because they are always, to some degree, in conflict with the expectations of the society around them.

That’s especially true of female characters in novels set in the Victorian/Gilded Age. The Victorian ideal of womanhood—for white, upper-class women, at least—was particularly rigid. It emphasized modesty, chastity, and submission to a male guardian. A true lady, an old saying went, was mentioned in the newspapers only three times in her life: when she was born, when she married, and when she died. Her sole calling was assumed to be marriage and motherhood; other genteel interests might be accommodated, as long as they didn’t get in the way of those fundamental duties. Widows were something of an exception. After a prescribed (and, yes, predictably stringent) period of mourning, they were allowed a certain degree of latitude, which is why they’re so often used as main characters in novels set in the period.

To be sure, a 19th-century heroine does not have to be an absolute rebel to be interesting. But to be dynamic and relatable to a modern reader, she does have to push back against the constraints of her time. The author’s challenge is determining which rules the character will be willing to bend (or break) and which she will abide by.

Amelia Matthew, the main character of my debut novel, A DEADLY FORTUNE, is exempt from many of society’s rules, having grown up an orphan with no family but her foster brother, Jonas. As a fortune-teller at a nightclub frequented by the wealthy, she’s spent enough time around them to know how to ape their manners and mores, but she’s never internalized them. Because she’s able to provide for herself without resorting to the kind of work that would irrevocably consign her to the lower class (domestic service, back-breaking factory work, or outright prostitution), she has a great deal more freedom of movement and expression than many of her sisters. And as she makes clear throughout the novel, that’s just how she likes it.

About The Book

Publication Date: January 5, 2021

A Deadly FortuneA historical mystery in the vein of The Alienist, in which a young woman in Gilded Age New York must use a special talent to unravel a deadly conspiracy.

Amelia Matthew has done the all-but-impossible, especially for an orphan in Gilded Age New York City. Along with her foster brother Jonas, she has parlayed her modest psychic talent into a safe and comfortable life. But safety and comfort vanish when a head injury leaves Amelia with a dramatically-expanded gift. After she publicly channels an angry spirit, she finds herself imprisoned in the notorious insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. As Jonas searches for a way to free her, Amelia struggles to control her disturbing new abilities and survive a place where cruelty and despair threaten her sanity.

Andrew Cavanaugh is familiar with despair. In the wake of a devastating loss, he abandons a promising medical career—and his place in Philadelphia society—to devote himself to the study and treatment of mental disease. Miss Amelia Matthew is just another patient—until she channels a spirit in front of him and proves her gift is real.

When a distraught mother comes to Andrew searching for her missing daughter—a daughter she believes is being hidden at the asylum—he turns to Amelia. Together, they uncover evidence of a deadly conspiracy, and then it’s no longer just Amelia’s sanity and freedom at stake. Amelia must master her gift and use it to catch a killer—or risk becoming the next victim.

Praise

“The 1893 world of the infamous lunatic asylum on Blackwell’s Island comes alive in frightening and horrific detail as a string of murders for profit is discovered when a young woman with a gift for contacting the dead becomes an accidental patient. She must fight for her life as well as her freedom in this engrossing mystery that reveals that all was not golden in Gilded Age New York.” —Rosemary Simpson, author of Death Brings a Shadow: A Gilded Age Mystery

“This engrossing mystery, rich in period detail, probes the dark side of Gilded Age New York and the even darker side of life at the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Plucky Amelia Matthew rises to the considerable challenges that surround her, uncovering increasingly dangerous secrets that point to the presence of a murderer in the asylum. Amelia has a special gift that both helps and complicates her search for the truth, making her a unique heroine. A Deadly Fortune builds to a satisfying conclusion that will whet the reader’s appetite for more of Amelia’s adventures!” —Clarissa Harwood, author of Impossible Saints and Bear No Malice

“Stacie Murphy proves herself to be a masterful storyteller with A Deadly Fortune—an elegantly written, fast-paced mystery that blends the dark side of the Gilded Age, great characters, and a paranormal twist. Impossible to put down.” —Julie McElwain, author of the Kendra Donovan Mystery Series

“Murphy serves up a dark side of the Gilded Age with intrigue, historical detail, and captivating characters. This is a mystery to savor!” —Dianne Freeman, award-winning author of the Countess of Harleigh mysteries.

Buy Links

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Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy & a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or your favorite Indie store. Winner’s choice.

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Loxby Manor

About The Author

Stacie MurphyStacie Murphy grew up near Nashville, TN. She began writing A Deadly Fortune in 2017 as a way to force herself to stay off Twitter in the evenings. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, daughter, and the worst cat in the world.

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Enter to win a copy of A Deadly Fortune by Stacie Murphy & a $50 Gift Card to Amazon or your favorite Indie store. Winner’s choice.

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Loxby Manor

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, January 11
Review at Coffee and Ink
Review at 100 Pages a Day

Tuesday, January 12
Excerpt at Probably at the Library

Wednesday, January 13
Review at McCombs on Main
Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Thursday, January 14
Feature at The Lit Bitch

Friday, January 15
Review at A Darn Good Read

Monday, January 18
Review at Novels Alive

Tuesday, January 19
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews

Wednesday, January 20
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Thursday, January 21
Feature at What Is That Book About

Friday, January 22
Review & Excerpt at Books & Benches

Monday, January 25
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Tuesday, January 26
Review at Bitch Bookshelf

Wednesday, January 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, January 28
Excerpt at Always With a Book

Friday, January 29
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Interview at Madwoman in the Attic

Monday, February 1
Review at Book Bustle

Tuesday, February 2
Review at Tangents and Tissues

Wednesday, February 3
Feature at Reading is My Remedy
Review & Excerpt at The Book Review Crew

Friday, February 5
Review at Passages to the Past

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Dayna Lintonhttp://dayagency.com
Mom, book producer, web designer, social media specialist, book blogger and reviewer, Disney lover, Utah Jazz, Utah Utes, and Dallas Cowboys fan. And if you didn't guess I LOVE BOOKS!

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