Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writing the Past

I'm delighted to join the Midnight Ink blog today. And I'm even more delighted to be writing a
mystery set in 1888 with a Quaker midwife as the protagonist. The Quaker Midwife Mysteries are set in the northeastern Massachusetts mill town of Amesbury (where I happen to live), which was also the carriage capital of the world.

I used to teach childbirth education in my living room and worked as a doula, providing labor support to women and their partners in birth centers or hospitals, so I have some knowledge of the birth process. And since normal labor and delivery hasn't changed for women in thousands of years, I don't have to do much research about that part.

The life of a midwife in 1888, though, has been interesting to set up, to say the least. Rose Carroll lives in my house - which was built in 1880 for mill workers, so it's a modest three bedroom. They have a pump in the kitchen sink but no running water otherwise.

She rides one of the new safety bicycles, the kind with two even-sized wheels, to get to her clients'  homes for births. Midwifery hadn't yet been taken over by male physicians and hospitals.

Life in town was on the cusp of change, too. The town might have had electric lights, and the big fancy (think Victorian, although of course they wouldn't have called them that then) homes of the carriage factory or mill owners might have had electric lights, too, but not the smaller homes. The electric trolley didn't go in until 1890, so it was still horse drawn.

I love including John Greenleaf Whittier as a secondary character. He lived a few blocks away from Rose and worshipped at the same Friends Meetinghouse as her (and the same one I attend every Sunday morning).

Life for an unmarried independent unconventional midwife like Rose is both difficult and fulfilling. She loses a baby once in a while, and that was life back then. She hadn't expected to have to solve murders too, but I'm almost finished writing the second book, and she's realizing she has a bit of a gift for detecting.

Look for Delivering the Truth in early April, 2015!

Readers: Do you like to read historical fiction? Got a favorite historical mystery series? Or do you prefer your intrigues set squarely in the present?

9 comments:

KB Inglee said...

I am looking forward to #2. I love it when a book includes a real historical person as a secondary character.
I was surprised to discover that of the last seven books I read, none was historical. Normally I would say half of what I read is historical.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, KB!

Lisa Albet said...

That looks fantastic, Edith. Hope you're having a great retreat!

Lisa Alber said...

Oh that's funny -- I spelled my own last name wrong!

Edith Maxwell said...

That IS funny, Lisa! Yes, having a fabulous retreat. Closing in on the end of Quaker Midwife mystery #2...

storytellermary said...

I can hardly wait for this one! "Safety" bicycles . . . I've always wondered why anyone would ever have designed the ones with large back and small front wheels.

Edith Maxwell said...

Agree, Mary! Happy you're looking forward to the story.

Nina Milton said...

What an excellent idea for a series. The historic aspect is going to go down so well. All the very best of luck with the book.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Nina!