Sunday, June 28, 2015

What We're Writing — MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE & THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE



LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR A FREE ARC OF 
MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE!



SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Happy Sunday, Reds and lovely readers! I'm delighted to tell you that MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANT is now out in ARCs (aka Advance Reader Copies)! And yes, I do have one to give away to one reader who leaves a comment below! And wow, the book's publication date is October 27, 2015 — that's just four months away! As our Hank would say, "Whoa."









The other books in the Maggie Hope series are doing well, too. MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY is now in its 16th printing, the other titles are in multiple printings, and Barnes & Noble has come up with a nifty bookshelf display. This one is from our local B&N, but I hear there are others?








So, in between getting Kiddo through the last of 4th grade (sniff), getting ready for summer (Rhode Island!), and copy edits for MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANT (hair-pulling and nail-biting), I've also been researching and writing book #6 in the Maggie Hope series, THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE.


This is now two books ahead for readers — and I want to be careful not to spoil anything for anyone. But I can say that THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE will follow Maggie from Washington, D.C. back to London. And in it, we'll meet a new baddie — the Blackout Ripper — a serial killer (or, rather, a "sequential murderer," since the term "serial killer" wasn't in use back then) who preys on the smart, ambitious, professional women.


I knew Maggie would be back in London for this book — and so I began to think her struggles against the patriarchy as a smart and capable woman weren't getting enough page space, the way they did in the earlier books. And so I deliberately created a killer who was targeting strong professional women — the women who were to be sent abroad to fight in the SOE (the Special Operations Executive — the British black ops organization Maggie has been working for). Since the killer is targeting women of SOE, Maggie's brought in by old friend Peter Frain of MI-5, to work alongside her old frenemy, Mark Stafford — and also a new character, a detective from Scotland Yard. 


[ When I began the project, I became obsessed with the literature of Victorian London. Many of the books I'd already read (women in Victorian lit was my specialty as an English major in college). But I wanted to go back to the really gothic books. So I chose DRACULA and DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE. DRACULA, I'd read in junior high or thereabouts, but it was still plenty scary. As well as unintentionally hilarious: "Get Mina recipe for chicken paprika."]


And then there's Jack the Ripper, himself. I started with THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF JACK THE RIPPER, then on to 1880: LONDON MURDERS IN THE AGE OF JACK THE RIPPER, and lots more. Like many, I knew the story without really knowing a lot of facts. The details are grisly.




But — why the fascination with Jack the Ripper, you may ask? 

Good question. 

Jack keeps coming up in the public consciousness as well as literature and pop culture for many reasons. Any plot about about the Jack the Ripper (or a new Ripper) contains coded discussions of the dangers of unrestrained male sexuality, misogynist fears of female sexuality, and censure of female autonomy. 


And so I turned to the scholarly book, A CITY OF DREADFUL DELIGHT, a feminist interpretation of the Ripper murders and their effects. The book also explores how Jack the Ripper (and his many fictional variations) has acted as a catalyst for women’s anger against male violence against women in the public sphere. As author Judith R. Walkowitz argues: "The Whitechapel murders have continued to provide a common vocabulary of male violence against women, a vocabulary now more than one hundred years old. Its persistence owes much to the mass media’s exploitation of Ripper iconography. Depictions of female mutilation in mainstream cinema, celebrations of the Ripper as a 'hero' of crime intensify fears of male violence and convince women that they are helpless victims."


And so, in other words, if I'm going to take on the Ripper myth as a feminist writer with a strong heroine, I'd better tell it in a radically different way. And that's my goal. In the usual Ripper stories and films, the Ripper's challenger is a man — a detective or a journalist usually. The female victims are peripheral to the hunt/catch story. 


In this newest Maggie Hope book, I want to turn that traditional Ripper narrative on its head.


Reading about Jack the Ripper led me to books about our own first serial killer here in the U.S., H. H. Holmes, including Erik Larson's excellent THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY. Jane Addams, the urban reformer who founded Chicago’s Hull House, wrote about the time period — which has its parallel in London of World War II — “Never before in civilization have such numbers of young girls been suddenly released from the protection of the home and permitted to walk unattended upon the city streets and to work under alien roofs.”



I'm also doing research on women in police force during World War II. Yes! It's true! 













And not just researching, but writing, too — it's just a wee bit too early for me to feel comfortable showing any pages. But please rest assured there are about 100 rough pages written, 100 more sketched out pages, and a whole slew of notes and ideas. Maggie's met a lot of horrific people in wartime, but this — a serial killer — is a first. And it's scary. (I'm scaring myself sometimes, which must be good, right?)


Dear Reds and lovely readers, please leave a comment below to be entered to win an ARC of MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE!



97 comments:

  1. Wow . . . “sequential murderer” has quite a fearsome aura about it. .
    And what an interesting idea to take the Jack the Ripper mythos and create a murderer who preys on smart and capable women . . . I imagine Maggie would feel both fearful and angry that the SOE women are being targeted in such a gruesome manner; I’m sure it’s an adventure she won’t soon forget. I know can’t wait to read this one!

    I love the Barnes and Noble display!

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  2. Serial murders, WW2, and Maggie...what could be better. Is the new detective going to stick around?

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  3. Thanks, Joan and Gram! Too soon to say about the new detective, but I'm hoping... Also, as you'll see in this book, so characters ever leave -- they're just back in London (or wherever they are) waiting.... In this books, we'll see David, Freddie, Sarah, Chuck, and Elise!

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  4. Susan Elia MacNeal - you're amazing. I love hearing about Maggie, and I'm always interested in your stories about the background and the research you're doing. Fascinating stuff. And some of THE best cover art ever.

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  5. I am really looking forward to both new books.

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  6. Wow, I have a lot of typos -- why one should never post before coffee....

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  7. Each Maggie Hope book is like a visit with a friend. I just brew a pot of tea and let Maggie update me on her adventures since our last visit. She is a such a strong character for the times she lived in. Introducing Jack the Ripper will certainly add a different suspense to her life. I can't wait for our next "visit".

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  8. I saw a Maggie Hope display at my B&N in Pittsburgh! I can't wait to read the next two books!

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  9. I heartily agree best cover art ever. Good luck!

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  10. I can't wait to read the new book!

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  11. Love hearing about your research! I'm going to have to go check my BN now

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  12. Fascinating research, all of it. I'd love the book to get my mom hooked on your series!

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  13. Taking on the Ripper myth as a feminist writer with a strong heroine... can I just say, Write Faster! This sounds fantastic.

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  14. Sequential killer is scarier to me than serial killer somehow. I loved Devil in the White City so can hardly wait to see what you will do in London. Maggie is one of my favorite strong women.
    May I just say, and this is to all of the Reds, I love and admire all of your strong women. Also one of the reasons I return again and again to the books of the Reds is because of the ensemble you have created: families, neighbors, office groups and you make us believe in them and want to know more. Thank you and I can hardly wait to see what Maggie does with Eleanor (talk about strong women!)

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  15. I love your book covers! Those alone would make me pick your book up from the shelf above all others. Of course, it is the writing that keeps bringing me back. Can't wait to read Mrs. Roosevelt's confident. And the Ripper myth. Oh, my. Can't wait. You are a tease!

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  16. This is a really interesting post, Susan, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with these ideas. Loved the photos of women police. Myself, I am looking at photos of women welders who built battleships at the Brooklyn Navy Yard!

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  17. Susan, I'm so looking forward to seeing what Maggie gets into back in her own country! But shivering about the Ripper aspect.

    By the way, how is it possible that the Kiddo will be in fifth grade? He and my grandson, both. Time sure flies.

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  18. Oh, my gosh. YOu are AMAZING. I am in love with Maggie and your books. You know from the first moment I saw the first cover in a bookstore in Chicago, and had never heard of you (you were brand new!) and I was hooked, hooked! on the plane on the way home.

    YOu have made this series a force of nature--and that is SO rare! ANd I have never heard of anyone having a 16th printing in my life.

    SO great. DO you think there really was ONE Ripper?

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  19. Aw, thanks for the support, you guys! I love reading about and writing about strong women, too. Maggie will indeed forge a terrific friendship with MRS. R in MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANT — as well as make a new friend -- a young woman who want to be a lawyer who works for the NAACP. I based her character on Pauli Murray, the civil rights activist/lawyer/poet/Episcopalian priest. http://paulimurrayproject.org/pauli-murray/biography/

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  20. I love the new cover, and can't wait to read about Maggie's US travels! Alyssa

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  21. Can hardly wait. Have loved them all. They just keep getting better and better!
    Joyce.

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  22. I am anxious to begin your series and especially interested in the Mrs Roosevelt book. I'm ready to dig in!

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  23. WWII is a particular interest of mine so I'm happy to hear you're writing about women in the police force during that time. Your Maggie mysteries are wonderful! Can't tell you how happy I am that we have three more mysteries to anticipate reading! Thanks!

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  24. Love the NAACP lawyer idea...My husband worked at the NAAACP Legal Defense fund. But um, later.

    Do you think Mrs. R should be on the $20 bill? (Now THAT would be some awesome book publicity! :-) )

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  25. Mrs. R. on the $20 would be GREAT!!!

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  26. Mrs R on the $20 bill!!!! Would that be a step forward!!!! Can't wait to read the book!

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  27. "Just four months away" is four long months away from my perspective, Susan. I read all of the Maggie Hope books last month, and I fell totally in love with Maggie and her world. Nothing is more exciting for a series reader than to discover a favorite new series. I had been waiting to read these books when I could read one right after the other, and I was truly in reader heaven while devouring them. WWII in London is one of my favorite times to read about, and you bring it so alive with the fascinating historical research you do. I introduced one of my best friends to the series, and she was as thrilled as I.

    Jack the Ripper has long intrigued me, and I'm always interested to read new twists on the tale. I didn't know that "serial killer" wasn't a term used then. Sequential killer almost sounds creepier than serial killer. I do learn so much through these books. It will be interesting to see how Maggie handles this killer case, with her being a seasoned operator now. The books you referenced, Susan, are ones I want to add to my list (see what you do to my reading schedule), except for Devil in the White City, which I've read and found amazing. I loved all the information about the World's Fair that was in the book, along with the serial killer account.

    Now, back to Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant. Being a big fan of Mrs. R and of Maggie, I can hardly wait to read about the two of them together. Two strong women who brook no bullshit. What a perfect book to read on a long plane ride, which I have coming up in 11 days. Oh, and let me chime in on the book covers. Outstanding!

    Thanks for a great Maggie fix today, Susan! And, speaking of your sweet boy entering 5th grade, I'm always interested in what boys are reading. In having worked with that age group in school, I know that it's an age when we lose many male readers. I was lucky that my son had an English teacher who valued reading time for the students, as that and my main home decorating theme of books helped keep my son on track in enjoying reading. The surprise Harry Potter room makeover you and your husband did for your son's room was brilliant. So, what's he reading these days?

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  28. Love the series so much..Maggie Hope is a wonderful character who gets more addictive as the series continues x

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  29. I *adore* Maggie & would dearly love to read a copy of the new book --- because I can't wait till its out in the stores LOL!

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  30. Kathy, thank you! Kiddo is reading a lot of graphic novels right now... Seems to be a good way for him to bridge between kid books and YA books. As long as he's reading and enjoying, I'm happy!

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  31. Ready to dive in whenever necessary or possible!

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  32. Marianne in MaineJune 28, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    I love Maggie as an amazing woman in all those situation in which you place her. Can't wait to continue reading her stories. And with Eleanor R! How awesome.

    Police in WWII reminds me of Foyle's War and poor Samantha who was able to chauffeur the men around. But she added more to the investigations. I'm anxious to read your take on it.

    Thanks so much!

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  33. Susan, this books sounds fantastic! I love reading about women in WWII--you know I fell in love with Maggie and your books long before we knew you here at JRW?-- And now, women in the police in WWII? And a woman taking on a Ripper-like killer? And, and, and...! I'm also thrilled that Maggie will be back in London, and we'll see the London characters again--although I know I'm going to love Washington, too.

    Can't wait--write faster!

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  34. How very exciting. I admire and appreciate these books, but taking on The Ripper is quite something!
    I look forward to being scared and impressed.

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  35. I love Maggie Hope. I can't wait till the next book is released.

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  36. Love Maggie Hope. Look forward to reading more of her adventures. Thanks for the ARC.

    Bettyjo.english@gmail.com

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  37. Love Maggie Hope. Look forward to reading more of her adventures. Thanks for the ARC.

    Bettyjo.english@gmail.com

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  38. Love Maggie Hope. Look forward to reading more of her adventures. Thanks for the ARC.

    Bettyjo.english@gmail.com

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  39. ANd just saying, again,

    ****ANd the WINNER of the ARC of WHAT YOU SEE is SUSAN who chose High Society as her favorite fictional wedding! Susan, email me h ryan at whdh dot com with your address!*****

    And now back to Jack the Ripper! (why did they call him "Jack" anyway?)

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  40. This sounds great! I love the week where you all share what you are writing. Downside is we have to wait for it!

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  41. A Ripper in wartime London! What a great idea! Women had to be out at all hours to do the jobs the men left behind. I can see Maggie taking him on. I'm patiently waiting for the latest with Eleanor Roosevelt in Washington D.C. Keep writing!

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  42. I've liked the series so far, quite a bit. These sound just as good or even better. :)
    pmettert@yahoo.com

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  43. Since WW2 Britain is a particular interest, I've greatly enjoyed all the Maggie books. I'm also a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm keen to see your next book.

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  44. Since WW2 Britain is a particular interest, I've greatly enjoyed all the Maggie books. I'm also a great admirer of Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm keen to see your next book.

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  45. Love...love...love WWII mysteries.I just heard about this series through another Author and they are new to me so I would love to read it. This is such a great Era with the hair, clothes and all the possibilities. Thanks for the chance.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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  46. Fascinating issues. I look forward to your exploration of history and feminism.

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  47. I love this series and can't wait to read the next one!

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  48. I don't normally read modern thrillers, especially if there's a serial killer on the loose. Creeps me out--can't get the images out of my head afterwards. BUT, Susan, I love the WWII era with its strong women--maybe it's just that they were more visible historically because of newsreels, etc., or the legacy they inspired in the postwar era. And Eleanor Roosevelt--have always admired her. And the historical Ripper--that somehow puts the idea of a serial killer at enough of a remove--looks like Maggie and I are destined to spend some enjoyable hours together!

    About Kiddo's reading--one of my favorite memories of my youngest nephew--sitting up 'late' in the rocking chair in his room, devouring one of Rick Riordan's novels.

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  49. Susan, I'm a big fan of graphic novels, and I think they are a great bridge to older YA lit. I enjoy some of the classics in a graphic form, such as Metamorphosis. Isn't there a movie or television show coming out based on Metamorphosis? I can imagine your husband developing the bug. So cool!

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  50. Two new Maggie Hope novels - I can't wait for them both! Love the series so much that I've introduced 2 of my daughters to her. They will both be so excited! I might even be willing to share the ARC with them!

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  51. *Shudders* Sounds like it's going to be scary/creepy good! But first things first--I'm ready for Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant! :) Yay for productive writers!

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  52. I loved all the first 4 Maggie books and can't wait to read about her adventures in Washington,DC! Your writing is superb and the research you do adds so much realism to the stories that we readers feel we are right there! Keep up the great work!

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  53. Can't wait to read both novels!!! Although it's not fair to tempt us with #6 when we haven't even read #5 yet...

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  54. I have so enjoyed the Maggie Hope series and am really looking forward to the next book. I love the cover - it looks like my dog Bertie!

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  55. Happily anticipating a new Maggie! I am eager to hear more of your Ripper writing.

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  56. I can't wait for Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante! I have loved all of the Maggie Hope books and I'm sure this one will be awesome as well!

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  57. I'm hooked on this series. I love the history and the mystery. Can't wait to embark on the next adventure. I'd love to win a review copy.

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  58. So so so thrilled for you Susan - what a dream come true, to write terrific stories and have such fun researching at the same time. Congratulations!

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  59. Sounds like fascinating research for the new new book (as opposed to the new one, which will be out soon, I hope). :) I look forward to both books!

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  60. I can't wait to read the next book! Having a strong female character is always something I look for in a good book...and the historical setting is amazing too. Adding in a Ripper type story would definitely up the ante and be awesome!

    I loved the last book, the build up to the US entering the war, and then Maggie getting tasked to head back to the mainland....so great!

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  61. I love this series for all the reasons listed above. Women, intrigue, war, history, love. It's the perfect recipe. I guess I take for granted that authors can not only write amazing and compelling characters but also have the discipline, intelligence and patience for all the necessary research. I can't wait until October, (unless of course I'm lucky enough to win!)

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  62. I cannot wait four months - just cannot!
    I have been enjoying watching the research reading trail you have left on Goodreads. Also enjoyed The Fruit Bowl Project for a change of pace.

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  63. I love this series and would love to win an ARC!

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  64. I decided to listen to Mr. Churchill's Secretary last summer while driving my son to camp. I spent the bed four days at a silent retreat and spent less time in prayer and more time with Maggie. I couldn't wait to finish it. It was fantastically wonderful! I have only read the first two to make them last a bit longer. Three and four await me this summer. I would love to win an ARC. So looking forward to more with Maggie.
    April

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  65. I don't typically read mysteries, but rather historical novels. I picked up Mr. CHurchill's Secretary - a historical that just happened to be a mystery and couldn't put it down. Or it's subsequent three follow on Maggie novels! I would love to get my hands on the ARC of Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante to continue on my Maggie jag! But if I'm not the lucky recipient, at least you'll be giving me a birthday present - Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante is published on my birthday!

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  66. I have been a huge fan of all the Maggie Hope books. I would love to win an ARC of Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante; I hate to wait so long for the next in the series. Although I appreciate your historical research, I wish you were able to write faster!

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  67. Four months, I'm not sure we can wait that long. It would be such a treat to catch up with Maggie Hope before the October launch date but as you can see, we are all eager for that discovery. Thank you for spinning such a wonderful story of a woman well ahead of her time. Can't wait to read the about her next adventure!

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  68. I can't wait until the end of October for more Maggie!

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  69. Maggie is one of my favorite characters and I'm really looking forward to the new book. Any hope of these being made into a TV series or movie - PLEASE!

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  70. I absolutely love your writing because of all your research and ability to bring subjects to life. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into writing these phenomenal novels about strong women during a pivotal time in history! Can't wait to read more Maggie Hope novels!

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  71. I absolutely love your writing because of all your research and ability to bring subjects to life. Thank you so much for all the hard work you put into writing these phenomenal novels about strong women during a pivotal time in history! Can't wait to read more Maggie Hope novels!

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  72. I love Maggie Hope and always look forward to new books in the series.

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  73. As a current DC-area resident and long-time Maggie Hope fan, I'm doubly excited to read Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante :-)

    Also, I love books that re-imagine era of the Ripper murders, so I'm excited to see what you come up with!

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  74. I am thrilled to hear that an new Maggie Hope is in our near future. Frankly, the nearer the better! Would absolutely love to receive and advance reader's copy if I am fortunate enough to receive one. Many thanks for the opportunity.

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  75. OH! This sounds fascinating!

    Carol-Lynn Rössel

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  76. You do know how to tempt us. The cover for MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANT looks great but definitely looking forward to going back to London for THE QUEEN'S ACCOMPLICE.

    May you and your family enjoy the 4th of July.

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  77. love the series, and your plans sound intriguing and wonderful.

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  78. Maggie Hope is such a great encouragement for all women. To be in her extraordinarily well accomplished spy missions at that time shows her character and that we all can move forward.
    I am looking forward to see how Maggie and Eleanor work together. And to have Two Maggie Hope's coming, ahh, what a gift!

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  79. Love Maggie Hope and am looking forward to the next book.

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  80. Recently started reading Mr. Churchill's secretary with my daughter each night, we are enjoying our time together and the strong Maggie Hope. Thank you for writing about a strong, smart female!
    We are looking forward to reading the rest of your books!

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  81. I am another new-to-Maggie Hope reader. I am very pleased with the historical research, the strong female lead and her friends (or enemies), and, especially, the daring you, the author, have shown. The dialogue, the settings, the attitudes and behavors of the times, and more are spot on. Thanks and blessings to you and all your family, friends, and Readers!

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  82. I've been watching Series 8 of Foyle's War, and it made me miss Maggie Hope. Even though Sam is British and Maggie American, I always think that if they had met, Sam and Maggie would have been good friends. I don't know what Foyle would have made of Maggie.

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  83. I am soooo excited to read the next Maggie Hope novel. I would love to get an ARC copy. This would not only make my day but my whole year. This is one of the best book series ever (second only to Amelia Peabody!) so please please pick me

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  84. This sounds like an interesting series! I'd love a copy of Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant. I've always had a lot of admiration for Eleanor Roosevelt. What an interesting era you've picked for your sleuth!

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  85. I really really am so exited for your new book, and I can't wait to see what happens to Maggie's sister. You left my stomach filled with butterflies! Of course you'd make me so happy if you'd pick me!
    Swany!

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  86. I can't wait to for the next Maggie Hope! I discovered the series last fall and read them all in a week... and then had the pleasure of meeting Susan in Ann Arbor to tell her about it :) It's been agony having to wait for the next story!

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  87. Finished my first Maggie Hope book and am looking forward to reading the next 4 books in the series. Hopefully during my summer vacation. I'm a teacher and reading time is precious! Hope you'll book a visit to Austin at BookPeople real soon!

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  88. Would LOVE to get my hands on an ARC of the next Maggie Hope book! *Especially* since my honeymoon is happening Oct 11 - 24, which is JUST shy of the publication date, and we're flying overseas, so it's the perfect time to read it! <3

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  89. PS Anyone going to be at the Frankfurt Book Fair?

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  90. I just returned home from a trip to London, where I kept Maggie Hope in mind while touring the many settings that had been touched and reshaped by the second world war. One special place was Bladon, the location of Winston Churchill's grave, alongside his wife Clementine - both of whom had been brought to life for me through Maggie Hope's eyes. I am eagerly anticipating Maggie's next adventures in "Mrs. Roosevelt's Secretary".

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  91. Can't wait for the new Maggie Hope to come out in October. And now to find out that there's another one after that is just great news. I know that the minute I get "Mrs. Roosevelt's Secretary" I won't be able to put it down! So looking forward to it

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  92. I am so pleased that there are more Maggie Hope Mysteries to come. They deal with a fascinating time period!

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  93. Almost too new a chum to qualify. Just discovered your work at Mr. Churchill's Secretary and keep running late for appointments as I cannot walk away from the story.

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  94. Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante is a can't-put-it-down, gripping page-turner!
    Reading this on a BART commute train to work my heart rate raced with the action.
    Susan thank you for the hair-raising climax scene. And a huge sigh of relief that Maggie triumphs under political & racist pressure.
    And how prophetic Maggie is given a copy of the Wonder Woman comic book --- because she is!
    Jessica Chastain should play Maggie if Hollywood picks up a Maggie Hope scripts -- red-headed focused intensity.
    Can't wait for The Queen's Accomplice next year.
    Kudos to Susan.

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  95. I have read "Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante" and love reading it as much as I did the first four novels in this series. I am patiently waiting for future stories about Maggie Hope. Great writer, extremely interesting era to read about. I so much enjoy the incorporation of real-life individuals from that time in history. It leads credence to the works.

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