Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The Brilliant Gabriel Valjan



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Like gravity, or quantum physics, Gabriel Valjan is a force of nature. If you know him, you are cheering right now to see him here on Jungle Red. He's the most generous, most thoughtful, most outrageously supportive author in our writing-reading world. With no reason other than his true and honest passion, he constantly promotes and shares and publicists other authors' events and books and successes.

Most authors secretly whine a bit about how much promotion is necessary and expected for their books--but Gabriel, the amazing Gabriel, not only does it without being asked, but does it spectacularly!

Follow him here on Twitter, and be amazed. And awed.

So now,  Reds and readers, the person whose face in in the dictionary when you look up "generous"--has a new book of his own.    



"Wrung their bread from stocks and stones"
    by Gabriel Valjan

The line above is from one of Robert Lowell’s lesser known poems, “Children of Light.” Ephesians 5:8 inspired his poem. I plucked the phrase for two reasons. 

One, Lowell confronted the violence that is the history of New England. Two, I admire the metaphor of finding sustenance from common but difficult materials. Boston is a city haunted by history, most of it unpleasant, but rich for an author of crime fiction, such as myself.

I write about Boston in the 1970s, a time of systemic corruption and institutional racism. A murder in Boston’s Red Light District inspired my third Shane Cleary novel, HUSH HUSH, but I take the details in a different direction.  (If you’re interested in both historical context and the crime, consult Jan Brogan’s Combat Zone.)

Like the poet, the mundane fed my imagination. Located on Columbus Ave. in Shane Cleary’s South End, Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe has been serving customers since 1927. The young Sammy Davis, Jr. used to dance for change outside its doors. For decades, Charlie’s was the only place in Boston where black and white diners could sit and eat together.

To give you a sense of how bad race relations were in Boston, a riot broke out at Carson Beach in 1975 when black protestors tried to use the beach, and the desegregation of Boston schools and public housing was not completed until 1988.

Shane’s South End was a hotspot for traveling African-American and Latino performers who worked the club circuit in town and the burlesque houses in Scollay Square. Charlie’s was a safe space according to The Negro Motorist Green Book. If you know Charlie’s location, then you’re aware that Back Bay Station is nearby.

On the second floor, above Charlie’s, was the office of the first black union in the nation, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. This union, under the leadership of A. Philip Randolph, organized strikes and campaigned for labor laws and racial equity, despite threats of violence. It is from Randolph that his protégé, a theology student at Boston University named Martin Luther King, Jr., had the dream of a March on Washington.

In HUSH HUSH, this history is folded into exposition without becoming didactic. The scene in Chapter 2 that unfolds becomes tense and relevant for readers. You can read it online in the Look Inside feature at Amazon for HUSH HUSH. A man double-parks his Cadillac in front of Charlie’s, two police officers stop, and the Q &A that ensues sounds procedural but it’s all subtext. Shane witnesses it and feels compelled to examine the facts of a case.

Bread wrung from stocks and stones.

History is all around us if we look for it. We should examine both the heights and depths, the dark and the light.

It doesn’t have to be as monumental as the Boston Massacre. It’s often forgotten history that fuels the imagination of writers, like how the Boston Common is the resting place of the colonial American and British dead, or that there’s a small plaque honoring an elm tree in the middle of the Common.

The tree is gone, and a memorial states that the Sons of Liberty assembled there, but it omits one sinister detail. The tree was where criminals, Quakers, and Native Americans were executed.

Has a page from forgotten history or an important public place inspired your writing?

HANK:  That is such a thought-provoking question. And every time I walk on the Common, or in the Public Garden, I think about the people in history who have walked in the same place. It's either inspirational--or chilling.  In The Murder List, the Boston Common bandstand provides  a pivotal moment...for the very reason you suggest, dear Gabriel! 

How about you, Reds and readers?  Or is there a place you think about in a different way because of a book? Or a place you wish you could visit because of a book?



Gabriel Valjan is the author of the Roma Series, The Company Files, and the Shane Cleary Mysteries. He has been nominated for the Agatha, Anthony, and Silver Falchion Awards, and received the 2021 Macavity Award for Best Short Story. He lives in Boston.

88 comments:

  1. This is so interesting, Gabriel . . . it often seems like there's so much that we don't know about a place.
    Newark is the most populous city in New Jersey, but often only makes the news for some crime committed there. I think its founding, by Puritans from Connecticut, is largely forgotten or unknown. And I'd venture a guess that few know the world's foremost jazz archives have their home there at the Institute of Jazz Studies . . . .

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    1. Joan, I'm originally from NJ and worked in Newark in my teens, and I had family from the First Ward. I grew up hearing about the 67 Riots and some of the "colorful characters" from a bygone era. I have a novella out in a few weeks called Diamond Dogs that touches on some lost Newark history. Yes, Newark was a vibrant mecca for entertainment and music. James P. Johnson from New Brunswick and Newark’s Willie “The Lion” Smith performed/toured Jersey. Many of the greats performed at Symphony Hall and Adams Theater in Newark. Thank you for stopping by.

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    2. Oh, that is fascinating about the jazz archives! I had no idea!

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  2. I've actually visiting some of those places, like Corrie ten Boom's house in the Netherlands. She and her family hid Jews during World War II, and her story was told in the book The Hiding Place.

    Also on that trip, my family and I went to a place I'd read about in a Mrs. Pollifax book.

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    1. Mrs. Pollifax! One of my first discoveries in the mystery genre many years ago...

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    2. Oh, what a moment those must’ve been. Such different emotions in each place…

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  3. Thank you, Mark, for your comment and for taking the time to honor those we have lost during The Shoah on your trip. We must not forget. If readers don't know, The Hiding Place was also made into a movie with Julie Harris, and it's streaming now on Amazon Prime.

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  4. Welcome to JRW;s Gabriel. Your essay on Boston in the 1970's brought back some memories.
    In particular, Louise Day Hicks, you may remember her as a staunch opponent to school integration. Sharing the same last name, but not a scintilla of her beliefs. I would say married into the Hicks clan but NOT her clan!

    Hank's question: Thanks to Rhys, I would like to visit Venice; thanks to Jenn, I would like to go to Scottsdale; thanks to Deb I am on my way to the Cotswold's; Thanks to Julia, I will go to ADK but not in the mud season; thanks to Hallie, I want to go to a swimming pool in the Hollywood Hills; thanks to Lucy I am on my way to Scotland with a scone in my picnic kit; and for you Hank? The Boston Commons natch.

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    1. Thanks for stop, Coralee. You have several inspired journeys there, but I am curious as to how long the scone survives.

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  5. Congratulations on this new book, Gabriel! It's on my Kindle and next up on my WANT to read list, waiting for me to finish a pair of "have-to-read" selections. I can't wait.

    As for the question, of course there are places I want to visit because of books and a couple that I have visited because of books.

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    1. Hi Annette, My hope is to see you at Malice this year. That counts as travel :-)

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    2. Yes, Malice should be an interesting adventure! We shall see what happens…

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  6. Welcome, Gabriel! I've been studying the Boston of fifty years before your books are set. There's so much I didn't know, including about Charlie's. I believe a lot of the Black porters lived in West Medford, which remains a racially mixed neighborhood.

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    1. You and Gabriel must have some amazing research methods!

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  7. Yes, Medford has an interesting history. It was home to the Royall House and Slave Quarters, the only intact plantation from MA's colonial history, and the land provided the initial grounds (and seed money) for Harvard Law School. Medford was home to Elizabeth Short, who is now known as the Black Dahlia. While on the subject of victims of notorious crimes, Thelma Todd was from Lawrence, MA. Since you write about the Quakers (folks, check out her Quaker Midwife Series), I know you know about the Boston Martyrs. Three of the four on trial were Quakers and executed, though not on The Common, but at Boston Neck, which is not far from where I live in the South End. Thanks for chiming in, Edith.

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    1. The Black Dahlia was from Massachusetts? I did not know that! And I have never heard of Thelma Todd… I should go look this up !

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    2. Thelma Todd was known as "The Ice Cream Blonde" and "Hot Toddy." She appeared in the original 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon (trivia: how many versions were there?). You can see her in the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business and Horse Feathers. Her club/home is on Pacific House Highway and someone bought it recently and refurbished it - to die for. Her death was ruled a suicide, but the details REALLY don't add up. Hank on the case?

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    3. Oh, I LOVE this! Wow. LOVE. (grabbing it.)

      ANd that's so intriguing about the Maltese Falcon! Another idea. Off to check that out. xxx

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    4. Should've written Pacific Coast Highway. I checked: Thelma was interred with her family in Lawrence. Medfa is haunting me today. The late actor John Casale (played Fredo) was from Medford and he's also in the family plot there.

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  8. Gabriel, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new book. I'm going to look for the first book in this series later this morning.

    It's telling that the American History lessons that include Boston, which are taught in elementary school, only teach about the heroic characters of the Revolutionary War and never return to look at the ugly side of that famous city. Living in Connecticut, I've been a spectator to the struggle for race relations next door, including in the sports teams. It would be fun to take a tour of Boston with some of the history that you and Hank and Edith discuss above. I'd sign up!

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    1. Judy, it's true that the history taught in schools have been selective. I find labor history quite interesting. You may know Howard Zinn wrote the People's History. Whether you agree with his conclusion, it's a starting point for investigation. MA was home to the 1912 Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence. One spot I found in downtown Boston that is quite telling is 24 School Street. There, the first Catholic church in Boston was built...in 1788. I think the date is quite telling. Follow Milk Street, down to the Commonwealth Bookstore, and you'll find two more plaques. Check them out. Oh, and don't forget Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston. There's a plaque near the Common (hint: walk Boylston Street toward Tremont St).

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    2. Oh, the plaques! Channel 7, where I work, is near Boston City Hall and old Boston City Hall, and there are so many plaques along the winding streets. I am always fascinated to see what used to be in the very places I am walking.

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  9. Congrats Gabriel on your book release.

    I've visited several places that were mentioned in books and it does brings history alive when you put your feet in their shoes.

    Every time I read a book that features a real place, I add that to my bucket list of places I want to see. History is alive and waiting for us to embrace.

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    1. Well said, Dru, and thank you. I hope you cross off each place on your list.

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    2. I so agree! We visited the battlefield of Lexington and Concord years ago, and it was quite emotional.

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    3. Yes, Hank, years ago I was visiting Barbara Shapiro when she lived in Lexington and she took on a Lexington/Concord tour. Having only read about these sites in school history books I found it surprisingly moving. I read Johnny Tremain in fifth or sixth grade and it made a huge impression on me. History through novels is always the best, isn't it?

      Deborah Harkness's novel Time's Convert follows one of her characters through the American Revolution and I learned so much from that, too!

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  10. Welcome to JRW, Gabriel and congratulations on the release of HUSH HUSH.
    Yes, there are many places I have enjoyed visiting after reading about them in a book, including Boston. Thanks to Hank, and other mystery writers such as Brian Shea and Robert B. Parker, I got to see the gritty dark places as well as the more popular attractions that visitors go to see.

    Books set in a different time add another dimension to my reading.
    I will seek out your latest Shane Cleary book to learn more about Charlie's and Boston's South End in the 1970s.

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    1. Thank you Grace. Yes, RBP did a lot for Boston. If you remember, the premiere for Spenser for Hire on TV in the 80s was filmed in the old Granary Burying Ground. Oh, Robert B. Parker used to hang out at Kate's Mystery Bookstore in North Cambridge. I need to look up Brian Shea. Thanks for the tip. I hope you enjoy your time with Shane.

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    2. Yes, and where I lived on Beacon Hill was back to back to the fire house that was used as Spenser's house !

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    3. HANK: That is so cool about your old house.
      GABRIEL: I loved Kate's Mystery Bookstore. I was able to go there a couple of times and was sorry to hear that it closed.

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  11. Welcome, Gabriel and congrats on the new book. I'm ashamed to say I'm behind on this series, but both books are on my Kindle.

    I always find it amazing at the places that are celebrated for one reason while the not-so-great history is covered up (like the Sons of Liberty gathering space).

    I look forward to seeing you at Malice!

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    1. So many books, so little time. The crime in HUSH takes place in what was the Combat Zone. At the intersection of Boylston and Washington Streets in the Zone is a building with a large Liberty Tree on it. The smallish park opposite it is where the Sons of Liberty would meet. Hope to see you at Malice.

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    2. Yes! I have seen that so many times…
      It does sort of feel like the true history of Boston and elsewhere is slowly emerging...

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  12. Such an honor and a joy to host you today, Gabriel! Can you talk a little bit about your research, and some of your fascinating sources?

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  13. Thank you for having me, Hank.! I wrote a draft of Hush years ago and then read other sources, such as Stephanie Schorow's Inside the Combat Zone and then, when I was editing, Jan Brogan's Combat Zone. Believe it or not, the most helpful to me for getting a "feel" for the era was to watch archived evening news broadcasts, the Ten O'Clock news with Art Cohen and Lee Nelson. You can find them online. It's revealing just how gritty the 70s were, and how many places in Boston have just disappeared.

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    1. Oh, I would love to watch those! And yes, I arrived in Boson in 1983, and it's very different now even from then.

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  14. So great to see you here, Gabriel. I loved the novel and your ability to capture the time and place is so impressive. Long live Shane!

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    1. Thank you, Wendall. Glad you enjoyed your time with Shane.

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    2. Hi, Wendall! xxx And yes, that is quite a skill.

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  15. It's so good to see you here this morning, Gabriel. I'm eager to read Hush Hush. Crime fiction set in the 1970s, especially in Boston, really floats my boat. I was a journalism student at Northeastern in the late 70s and a co-op general assignment reporter at the Globe. You are right, gritty doesn't begin to cover it.

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    1. Oh, amazing! Tell us some of your stories!

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    2. I'm with Hank. Tell us more. There's an Afterword I wrote to HUSH because I had concerns about offending people with the use of one word. ONE. Talked to fellow writers. Discussed it with my editor. I kept it because it served the story, and it was honest to the times because people back then talked like that, and didn't blink.

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  16. Welcome, Gabriel! We moved to the Boston area in the mid 70s, and my town has had a nasty history of racially charged incidents. The "Combat Zone," "Southie" -- very different now. In some respects, things are better now.

    And YES, so many books have made me want to visit places, and places I've gone have inspired me to write about them. Actually, for me, HOUSES provide inspiration. The 2 bedroom ranch with weeds growing in the roof gutters. The 5 bedroom Victorian that hasn't been painted in 50 years. And imagining the people that live in them.

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    1. Yes, your writer brain latches right onto those! It is fabulous.

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    2. Fascinating that you take inspiration from houses. I feel that way about antiques and books in second-hand stores. Who held it? What did it mean to them? As for 'times a-changin,' I tell people we need to be reminded just how bad things were then.

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  17. Boston has always fascinated me, for so many reasons. It was the first place my parents took me as a child, in the sleeping birth of a train, and I still have a sliver of a memory of that journey. When my middle daughter was in school there (she was in the second graduating class of Olin College) we explored the city whenever I visited, but of course never really saw even a tiny percentage of the area.

    I wonder how much effect the geography of the Boston region has to do with its history. All those irregular shores and river crisscrosses, all so much more evident from the air when flying in.

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    1. What a good thought! And yes, it is fascinating how the tourist routes are So connected to the typical history books. And the cycle continues.

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    2. Karen, I was shocked to find out that Back Bay here in Boston was once marshland and had to be filled in. It was also where servants for the social elites lived. Most of downtown Boston today was once a series of footbridges and dodgy streets.

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  18. Welcome, Gabriel. Thank you for your generosity to all writers and for writing such wonderful books.

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    1. Yes, he’s amazing!
      And his story “Burnt Ends” in the Bouchercon anthology THIS TIME FOR SURE is touching and brilliant.

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    2. Thank you, Kait. It's all fun to me.

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  19. Welcome Gabriel and congratulations on Hush, Hush! Hank is right, you are the most amazing member of our writing community. Thank you!

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    1. I always think about how much time it takes to do social media promotion, and Gabriel does it not only for himself but for all of us! Standing ovation. you have to wonder how he does it! Gabriel?

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  20. Welcome, Gabriel, and congratulations on HUSH HUSH. Boston in the 70s is SUCH a rich vein to mine for crime fiction writers - and such a shock to learn about for everyone who thinks racism is a southern problem. Honestly, I'm amazed there aren't more mysteries set in the Bad Old Days, but New York and LA seem to get all the love there.

    Boston has a wonderful walking tour of African American historical sites from the 19th century, which is great, but those are all, rightfully, pretty feel-good places, centered on abolition and the education of freed Black men and women. You know what I would love to see? An historical walking tour of places like the ones you're writing about, from the awful segregated, violent times of the 60s and 70s. If you're going to educate people about the wonderful things you did in the 19th century, you should also educate them about the terrible things you did in the 20th.

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    1. Excellent point, Julia. I agree about the African-American walking tour and the museum. Here in the South End, there were activist women (Amelia Earhart was one of them) for 'progressive causes.' I spoke of Medford earlier in this thread. Amelia lived in Medford and was known to drop pamphlets on Boston to "educate" people about living conditions for the working poor. She also used to drive her "Kizzle," a yellow Kessel Speedster around Boston. Here is a Boston Women Heritage Walking Tour for you: https://bwht.org/south-end-tour/

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    2. Yep. In 1925, Earhart was hired as a social worker at the Denison House, a settlement house in Boston's South End. Here's a link> https://www.boston.gov/news/notes-archives-amelia-earhart-boston

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    3. Here is a picture of Amelia on Tyler Street, in what is now Chinatown. I discovered this fact while doing research. Shane visits someone on Tyler Street in HUSH HUSH
      https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:6682zd38z

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    4. Yes! That is the book I am writing - Amelia sleuthing in 1926 with a female PI modeled on my grandmother Dorothy. My story "Dark Corners in last year's Bloodroot anthology of Best New England Crime Fiction features Dot and Amelia solving a case of arson at Denison House. And now I'm polishing the novel!

      I've made more than one pilgrimage to Amelia's house on Brooks Street in West Medford. She called her Kissel speedster Gold Bug. Ask me anything about her years in Boston...

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    5. Wow, Edith, I can't wait to read this!! That is fascinating!!

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    6. Thank you both! Fingers crossed it sells...

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  21. This is very interesting! I love history but more importantly learning from it. I also second Hank’s remark about the selfless work you do to promote authors! Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome. A little birdy told me you are in an anthology of stories out in February (Virginia is for Mysteries). Congratulations, Teresa.

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  22. The settings of so many books--so many places I'd love to visit! And the other way around, too. I'll often pick up a book because I've visited the setting in the past and this allows me to 'return,' revisit, and rediscover places I love.

    Your generous spirit (see how you did that for Teressa Inge, above?) is evident even here! Congrats on the new book--I have a soft spot in my heart for Boston and will enjoy catching up with Shane.

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    1. Thank you, Flora. I hope you enjoy Shane, and he has a cat named Delilah.

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  23. I'm here bc Hank sent me over from Twitter. Glad she did.

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  24. Hi, Gabriel, and what a treat to have you here! I can feel your Boston coming alive just through what you've shared here, and I can wait to dive into your Shane Cleary books.

    Because my books are set in the UK, there is history everywhere--the challenge is to pick which bits to incorporate in a story. I've been particularly inspired by some of the less nice parts, like race relations in Notting Hill in the sixties, or London's East End, which has absorbed wave after wave of immigrants. So much material!

    Growing up in the very white suburbs of Dallas, there was so much about my own city's history that I didn't know. Our Jungle Red friend Gigi Norwood has explored some of Dallas's Black history in her Deep Ellum stories and I now see Dallas in a different way.

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    1. Yes, it's so fascinating what schools do and don't teach!

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  25. Wow, Deborah. That's incredible. I knew of London's East End from Charlie Chaplin, but I'm curious about London in the Sixties. I saw a documentary with Michael Caine and he spoke more about class distinction, but not racial issues. I'd not heard of Gigi, and curious. Thank you.

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  26. Gabriel, your piece here is so fascinating. I haven't been to Boston, something I hope to do when traveling again, but it is certainly one of those places that is oozing with history on every corner. I love that. But, what I also love just as much is the hidden history, or the history behind the history. Unfortunately (probably using the word "tragically" would be more appropriate), the history of our black brothers and sisters is too often ignored or of scant visibility. Your mention of the Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe and Sammy Davis, Jr. connection and the A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr. connection are the makings of history I love to read about. Don't get me started on the black sleeping car porters, because I would love to read more integrated fiction and history about them. Our nation has only gotten half a history for so long, and, yet, people still persists in resisting the inclusion of black history in children's education. Shameful.

    Now, back to Gabriel and his generosity. I am always awed by the trouble he goes to in compiling the book cover pictures of the books nominated for different awards. I love having that visual, and I know other people/readers/authors/whoever love it, too. Thank you, Gabriel for doing that and allowing others of us to share it. I give you credit for it when I share, but I still feel a bit bad about using the work you've done. I do it though because I know you compile it in the first place to promote and support these authors and books.

    When thinking about a place I'd like to visit because of my reading, one of those places is the Culloden Battlefield in Scotland. Made even more famous by the Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon, I think of it as a holy place, a place where so many lost their lives and had their final thoughts of home. Battlefields resonate with me. When I visited Gettysburg Battlefield, I stood there and closed my eyes, feeling the spirits of those soldiers. Of course, I opened my eyes, too, and imagined the field filled with the fighting, the dying, the desperate.

    OK, I've rambled on long enough. Thank you for visiting and sharing with us today, Gabriel. Now, I need to go look up this new book of yours.

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    1. Yes, so true, dear Kathy. If anyone is ever skeptical about energy, going to a battlefield will prove them wrong. xxx

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  27. Thank you for what you said, Kathy. Both racism and poverty are unfortunate chapters in our national history. History is all around us. Boston has a a rich African-American heritage. Crispus Attucks, a multiracial man who escaped slavery, was the first American colonist killed in the American Revolution. Sadly his race was used to acquit the British soldiers who fired into the crowd. The trial is where we inherited the phrase "reasonable doubt." You may know the movie Glory about the "Mass 54th Regiment". I mention these two because Attucks was buried in the Granary Burying Ground, and there is a memorial to the men of the 54th in The Common. In addition to King's time in Boston, you should know that Malcolm Little (later Malcolm X) spent his formative years in Roxbury. I hope you spend time with Shane.

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  28. Congrats on the release of Hush Hush, Gabriel— it’s on my TBR pile and I cannot wait to dive in! Thank you for this thoughtful and fascinating piece. This Canadian learned about 150 things here!

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  29. Gosh, what a conversation to enter late! I hope I haven't missed you completely. Congratulations on the book. I will add it to the TBR list.

    I have wanted to visit New Zealand since I first read Ngaio Marsh.

    Moving to Massachusetts for grad school helped me to understand books I had already read. I grew up in a big, high mountain valley in Colorado where you could see 50 miles in each direction during the day and catch the Milky Way on a clear night. Being afraid of the headless horseman never made any sense until I experienced a New England forest at night. All those writers who personified "american" but never seemed to speak to me, Hawthorne, Dickenson, even Alcott, made much more sense after a few years in New England. I taught a political theory class one year using literature from across the country as texts. I was trying to show the students how different the ideas around the country felt. I'm not sure it was successful but it was fun.

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    1. SO agree about Ngaio Marsh! And that is a brilliant observation about "being there." And what a terrific class! (Maybe you could write a blog for us about it?)

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    2. That is fascinating: to approach political theory via landscape. Clever. You mentioned Hawthorne. I'd look earlier to Joshua Scottow who wrote early histories of New England. He opposed the witchcraft trials.

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    3. Hank, that is an interesting idea. I will hunt up the syllabus and see what gels.

      Thanks for the reference, Gabriel. I did a lot of work on early Puritan writing but most of it was sermons. It is good to remember that dissent always exists. You just have to find it. That gives me hope.

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  31. Gabriel, welcome to JRW!

    There was a news headline story some years ago about a killer who killed his wife and he lied to the police, saying that they were victims of a robbery ? and the robbers killed his wife. He also lied and said the robbers were black, igniting riots in ? Boston. The city has a lot of interesting history. I visited Boston several times and it is a beautiful place. I could take the train to Boston from DC.

    Which places have I wanted to visit based on books? Too many to list. I wanted to visit England because I read novels like Agatha Christie.

    Diana

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  32. LOVE this post. I love true history, and not just the "BIG" events but the small, insidious injustices and traumas endured by a community. And yes, I feel place matters. I set the climax scene of Down a Dark River, when my inspector confronts the villain, at Blackfriars Bridge, opened by Queen Victoria in 1869, at the heart of her era. From Blackfriars in 1870s London you could see Bazalgette's Victoria Embankment, a symbol of modernity; and the mudlarks grubbing about on the south shore for ancient treasures; and you could see both St. Paul's and the twin spires of the law courts--mercy and justice together. Places work on us, I think, impress history upon us in really productive ways. Thank you for sharing some this insight into your book! I can't wait to read it.

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