Share This

Bookmark and Share

Monday, May 17, 2021

Guest Post - Ashley Weaver

Please welcome Ashley Weaver, author of the Amory Ames mystery series and the exciting new Electra McDonnell historical mystery series.  I will be reviewing her debut novel in the new Electra McDonnell series soon.

Ms. Weaver is also the Technical Services Coordinator for the Allen Parish Libraries in Louisiana. Weaver has worked in libraries since she was 14; she was a page and then a clerk before obtaining her MLIS from Louisiana State University. She lives in Oakdale, Louisiana.

How My New Series Was Born
A few years ago, I developed a fascination with World War II. I began reading several nonfiction books on the topic, everything from the Blitzkrieg to the SAS to the Navajo Code Talkers. It’s a subject that has innumerable facets to be explored, so many absolutely incredible rabbit holes to follow. I even read the riveting account of a serial killer operating in Occupied Paris!

It was while reading an excellent book by Ben Macintyre entitled Agent Zigzag, however, that I was inspired to write my own World War II tale. Agent Zigzag is the true story of Eddie Chapman, a petty criminal and sometime member of a safecracking gang, who ended up becoming a double agent for the British. I loved the idea of someone who was initially on the wrong side of the law using their talents for the Allies. I thought it would be especially interesting if that person was a woman. And so the idea for Electra McDonnell was born!

World War II proves a particularly good timeframe for the story
of criminals with a code of honor. It was a time when everyone was pulling together to “do their bit” to stop Hitler and his armies. Whether it was victory gardens, creative rationing, scrap drives, or buying war bonds, people wanted to help in whatever ways they could. Having my character, Ellie, possess a skill set that is considered dishonest in peacetime but invaluable in a time of war creates an interesting dynamic. When she is asked to break into a safe to retrieve some important documents before they can be handed to the Nazis, she has the opportunity to help the war effort on a larger scale. Not only is she able to help the cause, which is something she genuinely wants to do, but she is also able to take pride in her work in a way that she hasn’t been able to before.

Researching for this book allowed me to take a close look at England—London in particular—at the start of WWII. The Blitz has not quite started in A Peculiar Combination, but I found that, even before the bombs began to fall, there was a sense of unity and shared purpose among the British people. As various countries fell before the advancing German army, it became increasingly vital that Great Britain prevail against the Nazi onslaught. The mindset of determination and resilience was something I tried to work into my characters. Even though Ellie and her military intelligence contact, Major Ramsey, come from completely different worlds, they are equally determined to do whatever necessary to stop the enemy from succeeding.

I also particularly enjoyed getting to research the art of safecracking for this book. It was fascinating for me to delve into the workings of locks and develop at least a basic understanding of the mechanisms and how they can be thwarted. I even bought a lockpicking set to practice with, though it will be a long time before I come anywhere close to Ellie’s level of skill!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thank you Ms. Weaver for your sharing a little of the behind the scenes of your new series.  I'm looking forward to reviewing it since I too am fascinated by WWII history.

Bookmark and Share


Related Posts with Thumbnails