Bordelleos, with Bonnie Edwards
My Midnight Confessions series is an erotic romance set in a haunted bordello. What does this have to do with historical research? Plenty.
The spirits of the hookers who worked there each have a story to tell. Since they lived in Perdition House pre-WWI I had some major work to do.
For the first time ever, I found myself writing historical fiction. One question on the net about brothel museums led me to The Montana Historical Society at the state website.
I learned that Butte, Montana had a reputation for its bordellos and vice dens. And that the crusader Carrie Nation had met her match in madame May Maloy. The women scuffled and Carrie emerged the loser.
Butte became the perfect place for me to find my madame. Not a prostitute, but a kept woman, raised by a single mother who'd embraced the Free Love movement that rose in the years following the Civil War.
So, I had Carrie on one side of the movement for social change and Belle a fictional forward thinking free love advocate who also needed to make a living. I used Carrie's appearance in Butte as a ticking clock.
In one vignette about one of the hookers signs appear that Carrie's due to arrive. In another, I show the scuffle that ended Carrie's time in Butte. Carrie Nation is a catalyst for change within the novel's historical setting. Belle, my fictional madame, sees Carrie's interference in Butte's business as a sign that it's time to move on. She decides to collect several women and head west to Seattle to build a fine mansion dedicated to elite businessmen and powerful politicians.
Oddly, months after completing the first story I fell across the book: Stella, by Linda J. Eversole. This is a creative non-fiction biography of a madam, Stella Carroll who operated brothels from San Francisco to Victoria, BC.
Reading the account of Stella's life sent chills up my spine. Her reasons for choosing her locations were exactly the reasons I chose to set the mansion where I did. Her attitude toward living the high life, having the best wines, the best foods, fine clothes were shared by my fictional heroine, Belle Grantham.
Creepy? You bet. Except, that for me, the real story of Stella Carroll proved that I'd come at the characters correctly. They felt real to me and now, having read about Stella, I'm hoping my characters in Midnight Confessions feel real to the readers as well.
I'm pleased to be able to offer copies of both Midnight Confessions (March 2007) and Midnight Confessions II (June 2007) to two different readers.