Zhu Wong, my heroine in The Gilded Age is a time traveler from the far future who returns to the dark age of the 1890s. She enjoys what all time travelers enjoy: twenty-twenty hindsight (mostly). She’s Chinese, a radical feminist. Her far-future conflict focuses on over-population and the far-reaching effects of that.
For my fin de siècle murder mystery, we are in 1896, and my heroine, Lily Modjeska, is a woman of her time. The book description says she’s “not typical;” in fact, she’s quite extraordinary. She’s home-schooled by her educated mother, conversant in literature, history, mythology, and mathematics, and holds her own when she confronts men. She does not defer or flutter her eyelashes, she fights back! She’s a suffragist and acutely aware of the disenfranchisement and disempowerment of women.
It may be difficult for American and European women today to imagine the world of the 1890s woman (though perhaps not so difficult for women everywhere else in the world). Women were not generally educated, therefore could not secure much in the way of gainful employment, were not allowed into most colleges and universities, were not allowed into the professions, could not sign contracts without their husbands’ consent, and often owned no money or property of their own. Abusive marriages were fairly commonplace; the common law “rule of thumb” refers to the width of the stick with which a husband could beat his wife.
Lacking the vote, women were powerless to influence issues that concerned them rather more than men: child labor, workplace discrimination, prostitution, food, tobacco, and drugs, and the Biggie, temperance. The suffragist movement was closely allied with the temperance movement because strong alcohol was closely associated with abusive husbands. The well-funded alcohol lobby opposed both movements (as well as two smaller allied movements–spiritualism and the prevention of cruelty to animals). The national vote for women was not won for thirty long years (though states like California passed suffrage laws earlier). A founding mother like Susan B. Anthony never saw victory before she died.
The average life expectancy of women in 1896 was thirty short years. Thirty years. Why? Well, in addition to incurable mortal diseases like tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, and various fevers, women faced childbirth. In an age when germ theory was still not widely understood and sterile technique not practiced, childbirth was a very risky proposition. For that matter, so was love and sex—no birth control except bidets and a rarity–condoms made out of sheeps’ intestine.
But enough. All this is deep background and shapes Lily’s personality. I wanted a historical romance like Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager series (which happens to be time travel!) with passion and heat and wit commingled with my fin de siècle murder mystery moored in corrupt immigration policy.
What I needed next was a Fin De Siècle Hero.
Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery)
Lily is not quite a typical woman in Toledo, Ohio, 1896. She may be repressed and dependent on her husband, but she supports the vote for women and has a mind of her own. But when Johnny Pentland is found dead at a notorious brothel, Lily discovers her husband is not the man she thought he was.
Pursued by Pentland’s enemies, Lily embarks on a journey that will take her across the country to San Francisco and across the ocean to Imperial China as she unravels a web of murder and corruption reaching from the opium dens of Chinatown to the mansions of Nob Hill.
Her journey becomes one of the heart when she crosses paths with Jackson Tremaine, a debonair, worldly-wise physician. Lily and Jackson begin a conflicted, passionate relationship as they encounter the mysterious Celestial Girl and her dangerous entourage.
Read the whole miniseries at–
Or try the miniseries in three installments–
Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.
Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. As they begin a passionate affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.
Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom (A Lily Modjeska Mystery). Lily and Tremaine journey to Imperial China, confronting soldiers of the Boxer Revolution and brutal slavers. Lily discovers secrets vital to the identity of the Celestial Girl. In Celestial Girl, Book 4: Terminus (A Lily Modjeska Mystery). Lily and Jackson return to San Francisco and solve the tragic mystery of the Celestial Girl. Both books are on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said
“A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”
From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India, and
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.
Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!
And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.
Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!