• Historical Fiction
  • General Fiction and Women Writers
  • YA Fiction
  • Suspense and Thrillers
  • Memoirs and Non Fiction
  • Classics and Mashups

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"A Spark of Death" ~ Early 1900's Electrical Professor is Dashing Detective

Book Summary:
“Seattle in 1901 is the setting for this distinctive scientific mystery that delves into the political machinations of the university and the changing technological landscape of that era. Like today’s concerns about terrorists, fear of anarchists ran high at the time. Professor Bradshaw, our intrepid  protagonist, becomes the amateur detective in this promising new series.”  Library Journal

Author:  Bernadette Pajer:
Bernadette loves the Pacific Northwest. She spent her childhood in Seattle, surrounded by beautiful mountains, listening to KJR (which played top 40 hits back then), and daydreaming (the first stage of writing). After high school, she studied pre-engineering at the University of Washington for two years before love—and a growing awareness that she was indifferent to Differential Equations—intervened. Newly wed, she and her husband moved to Orcas Island where the idea of being a writer took hold. She was working at the local bank when she met one of the island’s most famous residents, Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. She’s sure he doesn’t remember the occasion, but she recalls clearly how very kind he was. She told him she was thinking of writing, and he smiled gently and told her not to think, do. Writers write.

She began to write. And write. And submit, and wait, and write. Fast forward a decade, past dozens of rejections and a growing pile of manuscripts, and she returned to the UW to take a Creative Writing Certificate course, where she met fellow writers who are very dear to her today. In 2001, she decided to complete her degree at the UW at the Bothell campus. Her focus was on Culture, Literature and the Arts. It was during spring break of her final quarter that her son, at last, was born.

When she returned to writing fiction, she discovered that her heart and her passions were encapsulated in characters she’d created years earlier. Professor Bradshaw, his son Justin, Mrs. Prouty, Henry Pratt, and Missouri Fremont. She knew, after her long writing journey, that her writing home belonged with them, at 1204 Gallagher in Seattle. Now she is immersed in writing the Professor Bradshaw Mystery Series, happily exploring with her favorite characters the early days of the turn of the last century, a wondrous time when the race was on to discover and invent—everything—including the very same radio that some 70 years later carried music to a daydreaming teen.

The Bookish Dame Interviews Ms Pajer:

Welcome to the Bookish Libraria, Ms. Pajer.  I'm so pleased to have you here today!  May I ask you too many questions?  LOL
Thanks for having me. Ask away!
1)     In your bio, it's mentioned that you began to create the characters that you eventually use in your Professor Bradshaw Mystery Series years before you wrote A SPARK OF DEATH.  Where did these characters actually come from?
They came to me as characters sometimes do, fully formed and wanting their story told. Benjamin Bradshaw was a Professor of Electrical Engineering, and I thought about changing him to an English Professor, but he said absolutely not. Characters, of course, don't really manifest out of thin air, but emerge from our own experiences and psyches. I've always been fascinated by invention, and moved by people deeply hurt who manage to move on with life.
2)     I love the name Missouri Fremont for your female protagonist.  What made you name her that?  Is it one of those symbolic, anagram names?
OK, you're going to think I'm telling tales, but again, she just is Missouri. I don't know why. If I look deeper, maybe there's something musical and mysterious yet earthy about her name that taps into the part of me that would like to be that way. I was born in 1963, after all.
3)     Your concentration on the early dawning of the era of "enlightenment" and invention in America is one that is so interesting, Bernadette.  Was there something specific that "sparked" your interest in the turn of the century time frame?
That's when everything began to change big time. In 1901, there wasn't a single, viable, heavier-than-air flying machine. Just 68 years later, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Radio, television, computers – everything we take for granted now was being invented then. It's an exciting time to set a series that features an electrical inventor.
4)     Which of your characters do you most identify with in the Bradshaw Mystery Series?  Who is your favorite character?
Bradshaw,definitely. It's hard to explain that connection you get with a character that captures your heart. I see his world through him and yet I care about him as someone separate from me. And yes, writers are slightly insane.
5)     Please tell us where you most like to write and why.
I like to write at my dining room table, partly out of necessity. I have a very small house, and while the closet-sized room we call an office is where I store my research books and other writing paraphernalia, I prefer to write out here. Everything eventually ends up here on the table, and my family gets pushed to the tv trays. I don't like to be closeted away when I write, I'm one of those writers that needs something to tune out. Plus, from here, I'm able to easily jump up and do what needs done—fix a meal, get some laundry going, keep an eye on my son—and then get right back to work. But even though I'm just a few feet from the stove, I've been known to let dinner burn when caught up in a scene. Yesterday, it was the hot dogs on the grill that suffered. They were too burnt even for my son.
6)     Will you describe what's on your desk/writing area…be specific...look at it now and tell us what's on it and what you may keep there that you gain comfort or good fortune from seeing.  What do you see from your desk/writing area?
It's a wooden dining table surrounded by six wooden chairs. The table is covered with a green cloth. From left to right, there's the July issue of the PCC newspaper (local organic store); 3 copies of this week's Monroe Monitor (that has a feature story on me on page 6!), my black binder that lists events, blog requests, business cards of bookstores and writers; my author copy of A SPARK OF DEATH (I misspelled my own name when signing it, so it became my working copy); an empty plate with remnants of frosting from my birthday cake; my laptop where I'm now typing; a nearly empty cup of tea, two pens, a notepad with my son's handwriting practice (he wrote "pot, pop, bot, robot, pooping robot, i love mommy then DaD, MoM, Joey" and drew hearts with faces), my watch, a stack of birthday cards, a USB drive, a Hallmark statue/calendar of Snoopy sitting at his typewriter atop his red doghouse (birthday present from my hubby), and a box of tissues.
The dining table is in the back corner of the house. It's an open floor plan. To my left is the kitchen area (dishwasher's going), in front of me is the living room area with leather furniture and a wool rug, a large bookshelf and wall entertainment unit with the television and books and photos. To my right is a sliding glass door that looks into the backyard. I see the small patio and barbecue, my three raised garden beds, a large green lawn, and my son's cedar play structure. My son, whose 8, has been in all of these spaces as I type.
 7)     Are you an outline, organized writer, or are you a writer who just puts the story down as it comes to you?  I've recently seen a video in which Jeffrey Deaver talks about how he is an extremely organized writer with charts, pictures and everything.  And, my friend, Barbara Delinsky has a bulletin board with notes and pictures on a book when she writes.  But many authors just write extemporaneously.
I do a bit of both. I begin with a rough idea of how the story develops then begin to write. The writing reveals what research I need to do, what character arcs and back story need development, and elements of the plot I need to nail down. That’s when I write a more detailed outline of the mystery elements and subplots. I will often draw diagrams and makes lists of clues and dates. As I continue to write, I fine tune all the story elements, and often go back to insert a new thread or rip out one no longer needed. I don't currently have a bulletin board, but I have in the past, and of course I'm always surrounded by historical texts and photos when I write. 
8)     What inventor of the turn of the century do you most admire?
Oh, there were so many amazing inventors! But I'd have to say Alexander Graham Bell. His most famous invention, the telephone, was patented in 1876, but at the turn of the century, Bell was still fascinated with discovery and continued to invent. He was a good soul, by all accounts, devoted to his wife and family, and although he did support a few theories that were later used to tragic ends, I believe he was motivated always by a desire to help mankind. My Professor Bradshaw met him as a boy and was inspired by him. As am I.
9)  Will you make sure I receive all the Professor Bradshaw books in the future because I love "A Spark of Death" and want to read all of the series?  (My gratuitous question)  You don't have to answer this one! 8-) 
I will do my best to get each book in the series to you (you had me at "I love A SPARK OF DEATH.")
10)  Anything you'd like to tell us about yourself or your book that I haven't covered?
I'd just like to add that readers don't need to know anything about electricity to enjoy the mystery and follow the clues to "whodunnit."
Thanks so much for this interview, Bernadette.  I look forward to reviewing more of the Professor Bradshaw and associates books in the future.
 You're very welcome, and thank you!

My Review:
"A Spark of Death" is an exciting new series that covers an era in American history of inventors, modern thinkers, science and the awareness of women's contributions to science and society outside of the drawing room and nursery.  It's a series I expect to follow as an avid fan.

Bernadette Pajer is a writer of depth and quality.  Her descriptive abilities are exceptional.  She captured me from the first chapter and left me entranced with her treks down scientific cellars and studies to undiscovered safaris of electricity. She is an author of distinct mind and creativity.  "A Spark of Death" introduces us to her genius, and will most certainly enlist a crop of followers for the future.

The protagonist of Pajer's mind, Dr. Bradshaw, is a most dashing and devastating figure.  He's a character well drawn--intelligent, attractive and inventive.  It's practically impossible not to become mesmerized by him and his wry humor.  His fully developed character encompassing an astute faculty for the mysterious--detective work is compelling and great fun to read about.  I can only hope to get to know more about him in the near future. Suffice it to say that the book ended too soon for me. I think I'm in love with Dr. Bradshaw!

It was such a pleasure to meet Ms. Pajer's other characters, as well.  I've become a fan of Missouri Fremont.  She's the "every woman" with panache we'd love to be in that era and to cheer on in our century.  You'll get a kick out or her, and admire her as I did, I'll bet. What a great continuing character she's going to be.

I highly recommend "A Spark of Death" to all of my readers, and your readers, as well.  This is a book that's well written, has an easy flow to it; it's in the vein of a gaslight historical novel...only much more intelligent and with that "spark" of a country on the verge of an electrical illumination.  I can only urge you to pick up a copy of this first in the Dr. Bradshaw series. 

You'll find the novel on Amazon.com. 
For more information, please visit Ms Pajer's website at: http://www.bernadettepajer.com/


Bradshaw’s World

In the great span of human history, there is no other era as revolutionary as the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In that time, mankind went from smoky oil lamps to clean electric bulbs, from clopping horses to roaring automobiles, from tap-tapping telegrams to long-distance telephones, from muddy daguerreotypes to clear moving pictures, from earthbound transport to powered flight.
Sometimes the attempts at ingenuity brought ridicule. In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in 1901, a contributor wrote a lengthy article explaining why human flight was so ridiculous and why attempts had failed, concluding, “There is as much likelihood that the granite bowlders (sic) of a dozen states will some day get up and fly back to their original strata, as there is that the Langley and Kress, or any other purely mechanical flying machines will become practical many-carrying realities.” Two years later, the Wright Brothers flew, and a mere 63 years after that, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
All of these marvels were built upon the hard work and far-sighted vision of countless folks over many hundreds of years, but it was at this time that a million “aha” moments occurred around the world, and all that discovery became things we could feel, see, touch, and use. It was a marvelous, mad time.
If you’d like to delve further, here are a few links for you to explore.
The Seattle Municipal Archives

Museum of History and Industry


Jeo Fazzio

Good blog update... Thanks for share...

dining room furniture

Share your thoughts!

Blogaholic Designs”=