I have to be honest with you. I took this book as soon as I saw the cover, didn’t even take a look at the synopsis. I’d say it was an excellent choice because the story is just as fascinating, with its unusual timeframe and the Heroine’s job.
The book is Blythe of the Gates by Leah Erickson, an Historical Fiction.
Can the gates of perception be bypassed?
A rash love affair with a member of the Irish Mafia catapults Luna Mulkerrins into scandal, murder, scorn and decadent friendships in Ragtime Manhattan. Escaping from the blaze of publicity, a new Luna emerges: Blythe of the Seven Gates. Her meteoric rise as a magician leads to fame, vaudeville, silent movies and the notoriety of a damaging court case. Can Luna reclaim her reputation and reinvent herself as an independent woman of the time?
From Leah Erickson, author of The Brambles, winner of the Crime Fiction award from the IPA.
A chat with the Author
Leah Erickson is the author of the novel “The Brambles” (2017) and “Blythe of the Gates.” She is the recipient of the 2018 Independent Press Award and the Independent Book Award. Her short fiction has appeared in many magazines and journals in print and online, including The Fabulist, Pantheon Magazine, The Saint Ann’s Review, Eclectica, The Coachella Review, and many more. She lives near Newport, Rhode Island with her husband and daughter.
Thank you for being here, Leah.
What inspired you to write this book?
I am so interested in that period of history. The book spans 1911-1912. It was sort of on the precipice of modern times. Art Nouveau was turning into Art D.eco, vaudeville was giving way to moving pictures, etc. There was the burgeoning Bohemian scene which I got into quite a lot
Can you tell us a little about the characters in “Blythe of the Gates?”
The main character is Luna, a young recent immigrant from Ireland who arrives in New York and falls into an abusive marriage to Jack Friday, an ambitious young stage magician. She works at first as his assistant. Both husband and wife are sort of products of flawed institutions of the times. Jack Friday becomes hard and opportunistic and just plain cruel due to his time experience of the orphanage system. And Luna, in the beginning, is lost and very naïve in this new city, having grown up in rural Ireland. And the crossing over by ship was traumatic in itself. The book mainly follows her arc as she grows as a person and learns lessons from her pain and becomes one of the first great female magicians in her own right.
Did you learn anything during the writing of this book?
A: Yes. It is my first time writing historical fiction, and I learned how fun it is to get sucked into the research, in a way I never did in school! I would love to write about other time periods in future books. There is so much to be mined.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns to the story?
I did have one character who was completely unpredictable and had a life of his own, and that is Sean, the Irish gangster who wants to win Luna’s heart. Now days this young man would most likely be diagnosed with ADHD. But he was a total disruptive influence in my writing. I never knew what crazy thing he would say or do next. I was actually caught off guard by the letters he wrote from prison. I felt I was literally channeling a spirit or something. I would literally laugh out loud at stuff that he said. But that’s the best part of writing, When the author is actually surprised. That’s when I know there is life in the work and everything is flowing as it should!
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