Thursday, April 27, 2017

I need to invent killers! ~guest post by Viola Carr, author of The Dastardly Miss Lizzie: An Electric Empire Novel Book Three


I need to invent killers!
Guest post by Viola Carr

The Electric Empire is my first mystery series. I mean, sure, it's an edgy, dark, gender-flipped steampunk reworking of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which Dr Eliza Jekyll – daughter of the infamous Henry – is a Victorian-era crime scene investigator, addicted to her father's magical potion, fighting to stay safe in a world where magic is a capital crime, and resisting the interferences of her sultry dark half, Lizzie Hyde. With a clockwork dog.

So there's a whole lot going on, besides murders. Lizzie gets her own point of view, and her own adventures in crime and love. There's magic and weird science and alchemy as well as a little romance. But the three books - The Diabolical Miss Hyde, The Devious Dr. Jekyll, and the new book, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie – are murder mysteries at heart.

Which means I need to invent killers! Nasty ones, preferably, difficult to understand and even more difficult to catch. Gruesome murders, ahoy! For an historical crime novel – even a fantasy one – it's tempting to go down one of two routes.

The first is… 'do Jack the Ripper!' Everyone knows and loves Jack, right? He's the iconic Victorian murderer, mysterious and bloodthirsty. The picture of evil. And the fact that he never got caught means the possibilities for fiction are endless.

But I didn't want to 'do Jack', as fascinating as he is. I've already extrapolated some characters from classic literature, and given them my own spin. I wanted to invent my own murderer, who kills for their own reasons. And let's face it: prostitutes as victims is kind of lazy and sexist. I wanted to freshen it up a little!

The second temptation is to bring in the modern approach. Meticulous psychopaths who taunt their pursuers with elaborate games. Get into the killer's head and do some profiling.

Thing is: in Victorian times, they didn't have modern psychology. The idea of a psychopath, or personality disorders, hadn't yet been formulated. So the 'profiling' that we see in today's crime fiction wasn't possible. Even Sherlock Holmes, who worked at the very end of the 19th century, didn't do this. Someone who committed brutal murders was a lunatic, and that was that.

Also, many experts of the day still believed in the 'criminal classes' – the idea that poor people were somehow inevitably pre-disposed to commit crimes – and that there was such a thing as the 'born criminal', physically as well as mentally deformed, who could never be rehabilitated. The idea that crime has social causes wasn't widely understood.

So if someone was committing a string of murders in London – like saucy Jack the Ripper – it was because they were a 'lunatic' or a 'criminal type', and probably a foreigner, too! The fact that Jack seemed to be an educated man – with surgical skills, no less – was utterly baffling. How could a 'gentleman' be a gruesome murderer? No effort was made to 'profile' or to understand motive in the way we know it today.

In that way, I confess I've given my quasi-historical sleuth a bit of a modern edge. Eliza doesn't believe in the 'born criminal'. She questions everything. And she works in a mad-house, so she does attempt to get into the killer's head in the modern fashion. We expect that these days when we read crime fiction. And because my books are mysteries, not thrillers, you don't get the killer's point of view. So having Eliza speculate about their motives makes the murder investigation more fun to read about!

Eliza also uses crime scene techniques that strictly weren't available in that time period. She knows about trace evidence and fingerprints, for example. But hey, it's steampunk! She has wacky gadgets and alchemical potions that make her a kind of scientific whizz-kid… but they also get her into trouble. Because in her world, 'weird science' can get you arrested. So her special knowledge is useful, but dangerous.

Anyway, it's all so much fun to write that I can't wait to get into the next book! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my dark, wacky, twisted version of a quasi-modern historical steampunk fantasy mystery horror novel. With a sprinkling of classic literary characters and real-world people. And clockwork dogs.

The Dastardly Miss Lizzie
An Electric Empire Novel
Book Three
Viola Carr

On sale: 4/18/2017
ISBN: 9780062363121

In the third book in Viola Carr’s fantastically fun and wonderfully edgy Electric Empire novel, set in the gritty world of alternate Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll must team up with her secret other half, Miss Lizzie Hyde, as her world comes crashing to a halt when a madman begins targeting the city’s most important scientists, and sorcerers threaten all she holds dear.

About the Book:

Crime scene physician Eliza Jekyll is trying to share a life with her rebellious second self, Lizzie Hyde. But being two people in one body isn’t easy, not when Eliza has a professional reputation to protect and Lizzie is veering headfirst into a life of debauchery and crime with an increasingly demented Mr. Hyde. Not to mention the difficulty of making a respectable marriage with Remy Lafayette--Royal Society investigator and occasional lycanthrope--while Lizzie enjoys her own dubious romantic entanglements. And with England on the brink of war, Remy’s secretive mission in sorcery-riddled Paris grows ever more sinister. Has he been an enemy agent all along? Or is Eliza finally going mad?

Now, she’s confronted by her most baffling case yet: an evil genius with a penchant for theatrics is murdering eminent scientists in the most inexplicable ways. Her investigation uncovers a murky world of forbidden books, secret laboratories and bleeding-edge science punishable by death--and a shocking connection to her father’s infamous experiments. Desperate to learn the truth about her past, she must infiltrate a cabal of fanatical inventors bent on a discovery that will change the world--or destroy it.

With London under attack by sorcery-wielding terrorists, and the Royal Society’s enforcers determined to bury her evidence for good, Eliza needs all the friends she can get if she’s to thwart the killer and keep her head. But when Lizzie’s criminal shenanigans get Eliza fired from the Metropolitan Police, and Remy is implicated in an act of bloody vengeance he didn’t commit (or did he?), she’s on her own.

Except for wily, resourceful, mercurial Lizzie. But Lizzie’s got her own life now. And she’ll do anything to keep it. Even if it means attempting the unspeakable and finding her own body. Even if it means throwing Eliza to the wolves, and letting the world burn…

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About the Author:

Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist.






Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. 

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