by Alice Duncan, standing in for Carola Dunn
In August of this year, GENTEEL SPIRITS, the fifth book in my “Spirits” series starring Daisy Gumm Majesty, will be published. This makes me very happy, since for a while I thought Daisy was dead in the water. But she lives on!
I love Daisy. She came to me out of the blue one day, perhaps because I’d been trying to think of how to use Pasadena, California, in a book. After I moved to Roswell, NM, I became rather nostalgic about Pasadena. Then I visited my daughter there and decided once again that Pasadena as it is now isn’t the Pasadena as it was when I was a kid in it. If that makes any sense.
What I wanted to write about was the Pasadena of the Good Old Days (which probably weren’t any better than our days for the people who lived in them) when it was a haven for wealthy easterners who wintered there and Hollywood folks who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of work.
Of course, I know nothing about how rich people live, having been poor all my life, but I do know that rich folks need the rest of us to provide services for them. Then, all of a sudden, a hardworking phony spiritualist who has too many burdens to bear appeared as if by magic in my head, and Daisy was born! I’d recently met a woman here in Roswell, NM, whose last name is Majesty and she said she’d be glad to lend Daisy her last name. I gave her Gumm as a maiden name (don’t ask me how or why. These things just happen), an aunt who is possibly the best cook in the world, a supportive family (hey, authors always make things up) and a husband who’d been grievously wounded in the Great War, and I was set to go.
I had intended my “Spirits” books to be historical cozy mysteries, but that the Powers That Be at Kensington asked me to take out the dead bodies and add a subsidiary romance (since Daisy is already married to the love of her life, Billy). They marketed the first two books as romances, which they aren’t, so the series died unsung (actually, they weren’t entirely unsung. The few people who read them seemed to like them. Heck, the first book was a Romantic Times Top Pick and was nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice award). My favorite blurb of all time came from Booklist’s review of last year’s HUNGRY SPIRITS expresses my sentiments to a T: “This enjoyable series deserves to be much better known.” Couldn’t have said it better myself!
The books might have died easily, but their demise hurt me terribly, since I loved writing Daisy’s stories and Daisy is my very favorite character of those I’ve created. I was absolutely thrilled to death when Five Star, a publisher that primarily targets libraries, decided to pick up the series with HIGH SPIRITS.
And now it’s almost GENTEEL SPIRITS time! In GENTEEL SPIRITS, Daisy is hired to be the spiritual advisor to a spoiled-rotten silent-screen star named Lola de la Monica. Daisy’s bete noir (and her husband’s best friend), Sam Rotondo (a name lent me by a cousin, whose last name is Rotondo) is also on the set. He’s a Pasadena police detective and is pretty much always sure Daisy is up to something dire. Add some poison-pen letters and some folks with deep, dark secrets to protect, and Daisy’s really in the soup. It’s a good thing Daisy knows how to swim and doesn’t mind the heat.
I think it’s really funny that a penchant for spiritualism actually runs in my family (on my dad’s side). My late brother Al told me he used to be dragged to séances all the time when he was a boy. I didn’t even know that until about a year ago. But I guess this spiritualist bent is in the genes.
Also (happy thought) you can get the first three books in the series (STRONG SPIRITS, FINE SPIRITS, HIGH SPIRITS and HUNGRY) for your Kindle or your iPod, so you can read ‘em in order. If you’re interested in doing so, click here.
By the way, the cover art for GENTEEL SPIRITS is probably my favorite cover of the . . . um . . . let me count them. Well, of the 50-odd books I’ve had published. 50 books. And I’m poorer than your average church mouse. There’s definitely something wrong with this picture!
[Carola interjects: But nothing wrong with the following picture--did you ever see such genteel dogs?]
I’m very pleased and flattered that Carola asked me to fill in for her while she’s in England. Thanks, Carola! Please feel free to visit my web page at www.aliceduncan.net or to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org .