Growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I had two goals: to teach history and to write novels that would bring others the joy that Georgette Heyer’s historical romances and Mary Stewart’s suspense novels brought me. Degrees in history from Oberlin College and Kent State University got me started on the first goal, preparing me to teach high school history; but the arrival of the women’s movement taught me to set my goals higher, and I headed west with my husband to obtain a doctorate in history from U.C. San Diego. Throughout those years I continued to read both historical fiction and the growing work of women writing mysteries and daydreamed about writing someday.
In 1979, while working on my doctoral dissertation on late nineteenth century western working women, I was inspired by a passage in a diary by a domestic servant that suggested a perfect setting for a cozy “locked room” mystery, and the germ of the plot of my first historical mystery, Maids of Misfortune, was born. (You will have to read the book to find out what role that servant and that locked door ended up playing!)
I spent the next ten years finishing my doctorate, raising a daughter, and teaching at a series of colleges in the southwest, and, when I had time, working on the first draft of Maids of Misfortune. In 1989, just as I completed the first draft, I got a full-time job teaching at San Diego Mesa Community College, where I taught U.S. and women’s history for over twenty years. My first goal to teach history had been satisfactorily achieved, but the fiction writing had been put on hold.
Five years ago, semi-retired from teaching, I finally returned to my second childhood goal, to write light, romantic, suspenseful fiction. I rewrote Maids of Misfortune, which is the first in a planned series of mysteries set in late 19th century San Francisco, featuring Annie Fuller, a widowed boardinghouse keeper who works as a clairvoyant, and Nate Dawson, a local lawyer. After researching the new opportunities in independent publishing and ebook publishing, I published Maids of Misfortune in December 2009 as both an ebook and print book.
Maids of Misfortune was a finalist in the historical fiction category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and in July 2010 rose to the historical mystery best seller list on Kindle, where the book has remained ever since. Sales of Maids of Misfortune were strong enough that I retired from teaching completely and began to write full time, completing Uneasy Spirits, the sequel to Maids of Misfortune, in October 2011. In September 2013 I published the third book in the series, Bloody Lessons.
I am still living in San Diego, with my husband and assorted animals, and I am currently working on a short story, which will feature Mr. Wong, a character from Maids of Misfortune, and doing research for the next novel in the Victorian San Francisco Mystery series.
I love to hear from readers, about my books, about my blog, or about Victorian San Francisco. So do drop me a line. You can contact me at mlouisalocke at gmail.com
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