Friday, August 15, 2014

Time Machines and Showgirl Dreams

RHYS: One of the perks of being me is that I am sent books by new authors to blurb. So I actually read Ashley Weaver's first novel last year. And as I'm a sucker for fun and glamorous books written in the '20s and '30s, naturally I loved it.

So I'm pleased the book is finally going to be born in October and I'm delighted Ashley has come to visit us at Jungle Reds today. Welcome Ashley:

ASHLEY WEAVER: If ever they invent a time machine (one that works properly and wouldn’t leave me stranded with the dinosaurs or in the middle of some bloody uprising or revolution), I won’t have to think very hard about what era I’d like to visit first. In fact, I might just pack up my bags and move there. For the past several years, I have steadfastly maintained that I should have been born in 1907.  

Why 1907? It just strikes me as the perfect year somehow. I like the idea of being able to spend my youth in two of my favorite eras. I could be a teenager in the Roaring Twenties and age gracefully into the elegance of the 1930’s. It seems like there would be a great deal of fun to be had! Plus the opportunity to wear wardrobes from both eras in the same lifetime seems almost too good to be true. That’s not to downplay the hardships, of course. I realize that this period presented a series of challenges, but the people met them with grace and resilience. It seems like a simply fascinating time in which to live.

My love for these decades was formed early. I grew up watching black and white movies and fell in love with their glittering portrayals of glamorous and sophisticated people. It was depicted as a time where men always wore tuxedos to dinner and ladies had an evening gown for every night of the week. Though it was an increasingly modern era, people were still expected to adhere to social conventions, and this delicate balance kept things interesting!

There is also the little matter of my secret dream. I like to think that, given the right moment in history, I might have been a showgirl.

Never mind that I am a librarian, through and through, (with most of the bookish, introverted tendencies the stereotype usually entails). I like to imagine a career on the stage, dancing in a chorus line and warbling Gershwin tunes in glittering costumes with Marcelled hair, like the Ziegfeld Girls or something out of a Busby Berkeley film.  Perhaps I could even have been a librarian AND a showgirl, setting a precedent for generations to come!

(I suspect that I would never in a million years look this glamorous, but a girl can dream!)

Since I must grow where I’ve been planted, however, at least I have writing fiction to fall back on. While my character, Amory Ames, was born a year or two before 1907 and would never dream of being caught in a chorus line, she gets to enjoy the glitz and glamour that have always attracted me to her time period and fits seamlessly into that world. She’s intelligent, confident, and modern, yet she’s very aware of the boundaries of society – and she knows how to dress for every occasion!

I picture her in something a bit more subdued than the spangled bedecked ensemble above. Perhaps:

So, in the absence of time machines, I’ll just have to go on living vicariously through Amory at present. And perhaps perfect my synchronized high kicks . . . just in case.

Murder at the Brightwell will be published on October 14, 2014. 

RHYS: Thank you, Ashley. And I should point out that Ashley and I have scheduled a Facebook chat on September 18th, on my Facebook page.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ah, the glamour of times past . . . and weren't those movies great?
    I'm looking forward to reading Murder at the Brightwell . . . .

  3. this looks like such fun Ashley! And the showgirl dream sounds like fun too--count me in:).

    Tell us more about MURDER AT BRIGHTWELL....

  4. Exactly! I'd love to hear more about the book-- it sounds wonderful.

    And so does your Facebook chat! How do those work?

  5. Love the cover and description of the setting.

  6. Hi Ashley! I was lucky enough to read and write a quote for this book last year. Absolutely adored it!

  7. Looks enticing. And Ashley, when you find that time machine, let me know.

  8. Hi Ashley! Welcome to JRW! I loved Murder at the Brightwell, and I love your married sleuths. It's a very interesting relationship and I'll look forward to seeing how it evolves.

    Congrats on the book launch, and maybe you can have a glamorous evening signing!

  9. The book sounds wonderful. I love those times in books and old movies. Never seemed odd to me that everyone wore tuxedos and evening gowns that looked like nightgowns. Best of luck with the launch. And the FB chat sounds great!

  10. I love those time periods. And the clothes. . . The movies sure made it all seem glamourous. I'd travel back there in a time machine too! I'll be looking for Murder at the Brightwell in a couple of months.

  11. Facebook cat, Hank--the publisher has set it up for me on MY Facebook page. At a set time Ashley and I are live to answer questions and chat with each other.
    I've done one with Debs and the Todds on Goodreads and it was fun.

  12. Did I just say Facebook cat? I meant chat.
    I'm working with one new eye and one old eye and they don't quite get along. In two weeks it will be two news eyes and then it will be terrific.
    In the meantime we'll have more Facebook cats.

  13. I love the librarian/showgirl combination! And I agree with you on the twenties and thirties style: to dress like a flapper and then go elegantly into the thirties would have been a dream.

  14. Congratulations, Ashley! I love the cover of your novel and look forward to reading it.

  15. Ah, Ashley, you have hit a sweet spot for me. I am fascinated with the years 1901-1910, the end of the Victorian era and into the Edwardian era. My personal connection is that my father was born in 1901, and my mother was born in 1910, bookending the Edwardian era. So many changes were occurring during these years. The average person was more mobile, being able to afford train travel. The Model-T would be introduced to continue the move toward a more mobile nation in the states, and the great invention of flight took, well, flight. The somber shadow of Victoria, in both England and the United States, was being replaced by the more artistic interests of Edward, in addition to his proclivity towards traveling. The world was beginning to spread its wings with outstanding drama and popular fiction. Perhaps best of all, was that the corset was on its way out as an everyday requirement for women, not gone, but on its way. Women did have a new friend though, the vacuum cleaner. So much was happening during these years towards a whole new world in a new century that I am continually drawn to it. So, Ashley, Murder at the Brightwell is definitely going on my wish list and TBR list. You've had me at hello.

  16. Well, in keeping with my inability to tell a joke without messing up the punchline, the last statement of my previous post should have read, "You had me at hello."

  17. Well, I looked up Murder at the Brighton on Amazon, and I am feeling a bit stupid. Of course, if Armory was born around 1905, the mystery doesn't take place in that decade. Sorry for my fuzzy headedness. I'd like to blame drink, drugs, or dearth of sleep, but I can't. However, the good news is that I love the whole first half of the 20th century, so I'm still just as excited about reading this new novel. Now, I need to go do some brain exercises.

  18. Rhys, what a coincidence the hat on the cover looks like the hat I wore to MWCi at book passage in Juky. I loved the Queen of Hearts.

    Thank you for introducing us to Ashley Weaver's new book. By coincidence, my WIP story is close to that era.

    I wonder how The author created names. Armory is a wonderful name for the character.

    Looking forward to the Facebook chat and the book on October 14th.

    Do you get books by new authors through the same literary agent or publishing company ?

    - Diana

  19. Sorry about the typo. MWC. Is what I meant to say.


  20. Thanks, Rhys and the Jungle Red Writers, for having me! I was so excited to make an appearance on the blog. Also, thank you, Rhys, Susan, and Deborah, for your wonderful blurbs for the book. I'm so happy you enjoyed it! (Deborah, I love the idea of a glamorous evening signing. I’ll have to keep that in mind!)

    And thanks, everyone, for your lovely comments! It's nice to know there are so many kindred spirits in this modern age. If I ever find that time machine, I'll come looking for all of you!

    For those asking to know a little more about the book, Murder at the Brightwell is set a seaside resort in 1930's England. My protagonist, Amory Ames, agrees to help her former fiancé dissuade his sister from marrying Rupert, a disreputable playboy. This is something Amory knows all about since her husband, Milo, happens to be a disreputable playboy himself! The trip turns out to be full of surprises, however, when Rupert is murdered and everyone in their party comes under suspicions. As if that's not enough, Milo arrives to make Amory's life more complicated. I had a great deal of fun writing it, and I hope it's as much fun to read!

    Kathy, I agree with you! The whole first half of the 20th Century was fabulous!

    Diana, in answer to your question, the name Amory Ames actually came to me in a dream! As fantastic as that sounds, I really did have a dream with someone named Amory Ames in it. I don’t remember anything else about the dream, but I woke up thinking it would be a great name for a character. The rest, as they say, is history!

    I’m really looking forward to the Facebook chat on September 18th, and I hope to see you all there!

    Also, I thought I'd include my website and Facebook if anyone would like to stop by and visit me:


  21. I love your premise and timeframe :). I grew up watching black and white movies as well, and between that and a lot of P. G. Wodehouse I love the 20s and 30s.

    I plan on giving your book a read :)

  22. Oh, those Deco days - definitely my favorite years - my mother had many stories of the times being born in 1908. Can't wait to meet Amory - I've developed such an obsession for those female investigators in evening dress - I'm sooo jealous!