Monday, May 26, 2014

What We're Writing — Susan Elia MacNeal

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: It was the best of weeks. 

It was the worst of weeks.

The best, because I'm proud to say that there are finally finished books completed (just in time for BEA this week) of THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT!

The worst (and, yes, this is relative, I do realize) is that I caught a horrible flu and Mattie also had a tough week with pollen/asthma — so when I talk about "What We're Writing" it's not going to be so much about writing. Not a lot of writing happened this week, I confess.

There was a lot of coughing, sneezing, and blowing of nose. There was a lot of soup and tea. There was a lot of napping. 

But not a lot of writing.

And it's OK. Life happens sometime. First, I was able to do some reading. The novel I'm reading for fun right now is Jane Thyne's BLACK ROSES. It was the perfect read — set in Berlin 1933, it follows the exploits of a young English actress who ends up working in Joseph Goebbels's propaganda films. She becomes Magda Goebbel's confidante and uses her insider status to help the British.

Loved. It. And there's a sequel!

And there was also time for "work reading" — which is still enjoyable, if needing a bit more concentration. This week I read, for research purposes for MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE: Lynne Olson's TROUBLESOME YOUNG MEN,

Richard Toye's CHURCHILL'S EMPIRE, and 

Catharine Arnold's THE SEXUAL HISTORY OF LONDON. (Ha! I bet I have your attention now!)

And there were also videos: HISTORY'S VERDICT, especially the Chuchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Rommel episodes:

And then also, HBO's TRUE DETECTIVE. I loved it. I hated it. I hated that I loved it. And I'll probably be writing a post about it at some point about the way it portrays its female characters and its utter and complete failure of the Bechdel Test.

And that, lovely readers, is the news from here. Now that my Jungle Reds Week is over and the flu is abating, I'll be getting back to writing — and also gearing up for BEA (Book Expo America) this week. If you're there, I'd love to see you! I'll be signing copies of THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT at the Mystery Writers of America booth on Thursday, from 1:45 to 2:15.

Have a good week!


  1. Hope you continue to feel better . . .
    I'm looking forward to reading "The Prime Minister's Secret Agent" . . . .

  2. Ocillococcinum nips flu in the bud.

  3. Glad to hear you're feeling better. Enjoy BEA.

  4. Oh what fun Susan to be signing the brand new book at BEA! So glad you're feeling well enough to enjoy it.

    I don't know what the deal is with the spring flu--it seems to have run through the Jungle Reds through the Internet!!

  5. Thanks for the kind wishes. Yes, I think all the Reds had something or other this week? And we're not even in the same countries!

  6. Whoo hoo! See oyu there--or not since, I'll be there Thursday. RATS. I am going to snarf a book of yours, somehow!

    YEs, tre seems to be a JUngle REd plague recently..hope you are all feeling better!

    Susan--if ou have a second--tell us al little about the book! HURRAY! (And tomorrow, I'll give you all the scoop onsoe new characters in TRUTH BE TOLD--also debuting at BEA!)

  7. Looking forward to seeing both you and Hank at BEA, Susan. Glad that you are feeling better. Those change of season colds are always the worst!

  8. Glad to hear you're feeling better, Susan. I'm impressed with all the reading and watching you've gotten done while sick, and it all looks so interesting. So great that your book is ready for BEA, too, yet another event I'd love to attend.

    Hank, excited for you with your debut of Truth Be Told at BEA. Looking forward to the scoop on it.

  9. Hank, you're going to be at BEA on Thursday? I'll be there Thursday! Maybe we can get coffee? Anyone else going to be there Thursday???

  10. Ugh, to having the flu in spring. Glad you're feeling better, Susan. Hope Hallie is, too, by now.

    And I second Ellen's recommendation of Oscillococcinum. It's amazing, and has staved off all kinds of crud for me.

  11. You've GOT to love my comment, which I will leave, incredible typos and all.

    YES YES YES Susan, i sign at Forge in the AM, then MWA at 2:30. After that, I am YOURS!! Coffee, tea? Where will you be?? zoo

    And yes to Ocillococcinum. Astonishingly affective.

  12. Thanks, everybody. I'm on the mend now.

    Hank, you're in the shift after me at MWA. Meet for coffee after? there's usually a snack bar set up, right?


  13. Susan,

    I'm glad to hear you're on the mend. I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts.

    Have a good book signing. The period you write about is fascinating, and I love the historic detail. It seems obvious that you enjoy the research and are dedicated to getting it right.

    Many authors seem to work history in and around their story. What I like about the way you write is the feeling that you have discovered your story within history.