Hallo, Hallo dear hearts,
When I originally signed on for this blog tour, I had confused it with another tour – I had a lot on my mind at the time and for whichever reason, I had two of the titles confused for each other. When the novel arrived by Post, I was quite surprised and then, a bit worried – could I handle reading the story or would it be a bit much for me? Over the past years I’ve been blogging my readerly life – there are some stories which I have had a bonefide interest in reading but had learnt the harder truth that some stories out there are just not my cuppa tea or they are a bit outside the scope of what I regularly read – to where something inside them has affected me.
When it came to sorting out how to read about Nellie Bly – my first instinct was to think this might be too much for me as when I read “Emmy Nation” I found myself having issues getting through some of the harder points within the story-line as much as I generally have noticed plots surrounding asylums are ones which are a bit much for me to handle as they tend to dig into areas I might not personally feel motivated to explore.
Despite having a bad week with my Spring allergies which led-in to a migraine as I had a side effect to the new allergy medicine I was taking – I did attempt to read “The Girl Puzzle” which is how this interview was inspired to be shared with my readers. I was hoping to get further along than where I had left off for the questions I pitched to the author in this conversation – however, my head has been crushing me and the allergies – unfortunately are quite severe at the moment to where I haven’t had the chance to give this story the attention it deserved. I wasn’t sure if I could finish the story as it were but I had wanted to progress a bit more into the story – as one thing I observed about how it was written is how well in-tune Ms Braithwaite was with Nellie and how she understand the people she surrounded herself with in life. I found Bly to be a complicated woman but one whom understood herself well and kept her circle of acquaintances to those of whom would understand her best. I believed Braithwaite might have actually tapped into a truer voice of whom Bly had been as she had lived her life similar to how Fowler gave us “Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald”.
I hope as you read through this interview, you’ll have a better scope of understanding this infamous woman from History but with the sensibility Braithwaite instilled into her story. She truly loves writing Historicals and breathing new life and awareness into the people she is exploring through her own vision of their lives.
Be sure to brew your favourite cuppa, sit in a comfy chair and enjoy where the conversation leads! If your a reader of Historical novels with a penchant for Biographical Historical Fiction (as much as I am) I hope this conversation might encourage you to pick up this novel.
The Girl Puzzle Interview (Kate Braithwaite)
by Kate Braithwaite
Her published story is well known. But did she tell the whole truth about her ten days in the madhouse?
Down to her last dime and offered the chance of a job of a lifetime at The New York World, twenty-three-year old Elizabeth Cochrane agrees to get herself admitted to Blackwell’s Island Lunatic Asylum and report on conditions from the inside. But what happened to her poor friend, Tilly Mayard? Was there more to her high praise of Dr Frank Ingram than everyone knew?
Thirty years later, Elizabeth, known as Nellie Bly, is no longer a celebrated trailblazer and the toast of Newspaper Row. Instead, she lives in a suite in the Hotel McAlpin, writes a column for The New York Journal and runs an informal adoption agency for the city’s orphans.
Beatrice Alexander is her secretary, fascinated by Miss Bly and her causes and crusades. Asked to type up a manuscript revisiting her employer’s experiences in the asylum in 1887, Beatrice believes she’s been given the key to understanding one of the most innovative and daring figures of the age.
Places to find the book:
Published by Crooked Cat Books
on 5th May, 2019
Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook
How did you approach digging into the truer history and legacy of Nellie Bly after so much has been disclosed on her behalf? How did you find a new voice to bring her life into our purview which would give us a better insight into who she was and what had motivated her personally as well as professionally?
Braithwaite responds: My starting point for getting to know Nellie Bly was with her own writing. I bought and a copy of Ten Days in a Madhouse and read it in one sitting. In some ways it was a let-down – I think I was expecting great drama, but Nellie was a newspaper reporter, tasked with setting out facts. She didn’t dwell on how the experience felt to her at all, but that was the aspect that really intrigued me. After all, she was only 23 years old in 1887. So I kept reading about her.
I read Brooke Kroeger’s excellent biography and Matthew Goodman’s wonderful book about Nellie and Elisabeth Bisland racing around the world. From Kroeger’s biography I was able to source articles from Nellie’s life after her great initial success and that gave me a whole new perspective on her story. Although there is a very public record of her work, she was very private and didn’t keep diaries or write volumes of deeply personal letters. For a novelist, that can be mean opportunity. It’s often the gaps in the record where you explore the most. That said, I kept rigidly to her biography, while trying to convey my idea of who she must have been as a person. Read More