Sunday, March 8, 2015

What We're Writing — Susan Elia MacNeal and MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Hello, lovely readers! Delighted to say that I'm expected the copyedited manuscript of MRS. ROOSEVELT'S CONFIDANTE any day now. I've also seen the cover and it is gorgeous. (However, I've been asked not to reveal it until after Random House's sales conference, so I'll keep it under my hat until then — but really, it's gorgeous!)

I can, however, share with you the official copy that will appear on the book — it makes it seem so 

In this latest riveting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal, England’s most daring spy, Maggie Hope, travels across the pond to America, where a looming scandal poses a grave threat to the White House and the Allied cause.

December 1941. Soon after the attack 
on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle—as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

While waiting for the copyedited manuscript of THE FIRST LADY'S CONFIDANTE, I've been busy researching and beginning to write the next Maggie Hope book — number 6. 

No title yet, but I can tell you a few things I'm researching: 

* SOE agents Sarah Sanderson and Hugh Thompson training in Beaulieu in the New Forest (what they called "Spy Finishing School")

* The F Section of SOE (the British agents sent to France to work with La RĂ©sistance)

* Irregularities with code coming back from F-Section agents in France at SOE headquarters on Baker Street (yes, that Baker Street) in London, where Maggie is now working.

* Oh yes, and in case World War II's not enough — there's a copycat serial killer in London, who's recreating the murders of Jack the Ripper.


Here are some of the books I've been reading as I go about creating my new characters and settings:

The Women Who Lived for Danger: Behind Enemy Lines in World War II by Marcus Biney

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII, A Story of the Men and Women Who Waged Churchill's Secret War by Sarah Helm

Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway

Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu

Nancy Wake: SOE's Greatest Heroine by Russell Braddon

In addition to reading books on the SOE agents, I've been reading up on the original Jack the Ripper — and also an American serial killer H. H. Holmes. Erik Larson's book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America has been grimly fascinating. 

I also have a trip to London and Beaulieu planned for April. Keen to wander around Baker Street and Whitechurch, and revisit the Imperial War Museum in London. And also to visit Beaulieu Abbey, Palace House, and the Secret Army Exhibition in Hampshire, in the south of England where the SOE agents received their final instruction.

Reds and lovely readers, any ideas for the title for Maggie Hope #6, now that you know a little something about the book? I have a few in mind, but nothing definite.

Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section!


  1. Oh I wish it were out right now, I could use a Maggie fix!

  2. This all sounds so exciting . . . I can hardly wait to read Maggie's latest adventure.
    While I don't have an idea for a title for the next book, I must say it sounds very intriguing. I'll be looking forward to reading it, too.

  3. Susan, fascinating stuff! I love seeing what you're reading for research. Can't wait to read #5--and #6! I'll keep thinking about the title. I'm never very fast at them...

  4. Thanks for sharing your research titles -- those look like fascinating reads! New title? Something about HOMEFRONT VALOR, or THEY ALSO SERVE?

  5. Fascinating, and I'm adding some of your research titles to my list of things I want to read.

  6. Such a fun look behind the curtain to see how your process works Susan. The book sounds wonderful and copyedits mean it's getting closer! xo

  7. Thank you, all of you. Yes, copyedits means it's getting closer. No definite pub date, but fall/winter 2015 — so really not too long to wait!

  8. Oh, I do love your books! And these both sound wonderful.

    Title, title. What does Maggie do in the one?

  9. This book will stay at the top of my TBR list until I've finished it. I admire Mrs. Roosevelt, and I've been interested in women in code breaking and espionage since reading Leo Marks' Between Silk and Cyanide. And I recently saw the old movie about Violette Szabo. (Acorn and Netflix are wonderful.) Congratulations on the new and the next books. I'll be watching for them.

  10. Susan, I'm sure that you know it's called bewlee in English, right?
    I am fascinated by stories of English women behind the lines. So brave. And so humble afterward

  11. Hank, good question!

    Look forward to reading th nxtxxxx. The next Maggie Hope book.

    The mrs Roosevelt book will come out in fall of 2015, right?

    Maybe #6 could be called Beaulieu's Hope?

  12. Susan, you have a whole lot of great stuff going on, and we readers are going to be reaping rewards from it. I love the fascinating research that you get to do on these books. So much back story to this period of history.

    Title? Hmm. In Danger's Arms or The Unseen Valor or Spies on the Home Front or Spies of a Hidden Valor.

  13. Maybe it's (Some title's) (Some person's) Secret.

    I guess it can;t be On Her Majesy's Secret Service ...:-)

  14. Do you need a research assistant for your trip to London? I read the biography of Noor Inayat Khan when I wrote a blog post about her. She and the other ladies that you mentioned are fascinating.

  15. My husband and I took a Jack the Ripper guided walking tour when we were last in London. It was very interesting. something you might want to do while you're in London. :)