Victorian San Francisco in 1880: Social Structure and Character Development

I have embarked upon writing Bloody Lessons, the third book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series that features Annie Fuller and Nate Dawson, which means I am creating a whole new raft of secondary characters. And, as I have done in previous books, I am carefully considering the specific social make-up of San Francisco as I do so. What follows is a brief summary of the social structure of San Francisco in 1880 (primarily from my dissertation, Like a Machine or an Animal) and how this has influenced some of the choices I have made in developing my characters Read more…

How realistic must we be when writing historical fiction? Victorian San Francisco Mistresses and Maids

I had planned to write about the social structure of Victorian San Francisco when two recent events got me to thinking about the tension historical fiction authors feels between accurately portraying the past and telling a good story. The first event was a mixed review I got for my most recent mystery, Uneasy Spirits. The reviewer suggested my treatment of the relationship between my protagonist Annie Fuller (who runs a boarding house in addition to being an amateur sleuth) and her staff was “unrealistic” because she treated her servants as friends and permitted them to have a Halloween party. The Read more…

Victorian San Francisco Short Story

My short story, set in 1879 San Francisco, features two elderly dressmakers, Miss Minnie and Miss Millie Moffet, who face a moral dilemma of no small dimensions. They turn for advice to Annie Fuller, a widowed boardinghouse owner who supplements her income as a clairvoyant, Madam Sibyl. For those who have read Locke’s two full-length Victorian San Francisco mysteries, Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, this is an amusing glimpse into the lives of Annie Fuller’s two most eccentric boarders. For those unfamiliar with Locke’s mysteries and the late nineteenth century world they portray, this is just a taste of Read more…

Musing on Illness in the Victorian Era

At the beginning, when I first started this blog, I intended that it would be a place where I would be able to expound on the Victorian era and the world I was creating in my historical mysteries. Instead, for the first year it became primarily a place to describe my journey through self-publishing.  As I began to get back into the historical research necessary for writing the sequel to Maids of Misfortune, I find my desire to write about the past growing. I have addressed this desire primarily through the creation of an facebook author page, where I frequently Read more…