Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blog Tour: Barking Mad by Jamieson Ridenhour

Welcome to the blog tour for Barking Mad by Jamieson Ridenhour! I have a guest post, review, and giveaway to tell you about today.

About Barking Mad - goodreads, Amazon, Typecast Publishing
The year is 1931. The scene is werewolfishly classic English fare. And tonight the moon hangs as full as a royal pie plate in this inaugural Reginald Spiffington mystery when the none too obsequious playboy, Reggie, sets out for a delectably long weekend at Huffsworthy Hall to assist his dear friend, Moony, in his failing endeavor to take the hand of his lady-love and to partake in the culinary talents of the genius chef running the kitchen. With no one reason more important than the next, he ll be off straight after breakfast. Reggie's itinerary for the weekend turns abruptly less toothsome when he decides to solve the unexpected murder of another of the Hall's guests, a guest whose luggage is secretly packed full of nefarious plans. Soon, all Huffsworthy's inhabitants are potential suspects, including Reggie's saucy, quick-witted love-interest, Mimsy Borogrove. Aided by his invaluable valet, Pelham, and armed only with his knowledge of detective novels and a newly acquired set of keener, canine senses, Reggie sets out to find the killer before another meal falls to ruin

Jamieson Ridenhour has very kindly written up a post about how to prepare for writing in a certain time period.

Hi everybody! I’m Jamie, and I’m the author of the werewolf murder-mystery Barking Mad.  First off, I want to thank Lisa for hosting me here at the Casual Reader’s Blog as part of the Barking Mad blog tour. I’m excited to be here, and I heartily appreciate the cyber-hospitality.

I’ve been asked to talk about how I prepare to write in a certain time period. I have written contemporary pieces, mostly short fiction, but a lot of my work is set in an earlier era. Barking Mad occurs in England during the early 1930s; I’ve also written a story set in Mississippi during the late 1930s (“Dark Gonna Catch Me Here,” in this month’s issue of Weird Tales), and the YA novel I’m writing now is set in Victorian London. I like being able to visit other time periods, other places—both when I’m reading and when I’m creating my own stories.

The trick, of course, is making it authentic. I’ve been to England, but I’ve never been to 1931. Perhaps once I get my own Tardis (it’s been on my Christmas list for years, and I’m still waiting), but until then I have to make do with research. And that’s the short and dirty answer to preparing for writing historical fiction: reference books and more reference books. And Google is your friend.

I’d like to say that my research for Barking Mad was thorough and organized. Honestly, though, the best way to prepare for writing a novel set in the 1930s is to read lots of novels written in the 1930s. Barking Mad was purposefully intended to be a tribute to three types of early twentieth-century stories: the Jeeves and Wooster stories by P.G. Wodehouse, Agatha Christie’s big house murder-mysteries, and the Universal horror films of the 30s and 40s. Werewolves! Rich playboys! Murder! Because I’m a great lover of all those things, and have spent scads of time reading Wodehouse and watching the old Universal films, a lot of the speech patterns and narrative moves were sort of second nature. I know what those genres feel like, have had them hard-wired into my brain by a lifetime of reading, and I had a great time recreating them.

Which is not to say that I didn’t do actual research during the writing of the novel. Most of this had to do with small details that I wanted to get right—Would a 30s novel have an author photo on the dust cover? Had Constantinople become Istanbul by 1931? What’s the difference between an Inspector and a Detective Inspector, and was that difference the same during the interwar years?—but a few major things needed more in depth digging. I got advice on poisons from my friend Angela, for instance, who gleefully used her knowledge as a medical professional to suggest painful and disgusting ways I could kill people with common garden plants. My favorite find was a lunar calendar for 1931, which allowed me to track the full moon 80 years ago, a fairly crucial point in a werewolf novel.

Ultimately, much of the research I did either didn’t make it into the book or else made only a marginal appearance. Because Barking Mad is in many ways a book about fine food, I spent a lot of  time with some delicious-sounding recipes from the 1930s. Most of those will have to wait to be eaten in later novels. But everything helped. Every nugget of 1930s culture, slang, or history brought me better understanding of the era and my characters. I listened to a lot of music from the late 20s and early 30s as well, even going so far as to create a playlist to keep me company while I wrote. The trick is to go there, even without a Tardis, to be as completely in 1931 as I can. If I can do that, then my characters will say the right thing, dress the right way, and be in the most complete way they can.

Plus I get to have a little temporal vacation. And that’s smashing, old bean. Simply smashing.

A temporal vacation? I love it! I think reading helps do that for me. Thanks so much for that great post.

About Jamieson Ridenhour - website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Jamieson Ridenhour is the author of Barking Mad: A Reginald Spiffington Mystery, available from Typecast Publishing in June of 2011. He is the editor of the Valancourt edition of Sheridan Le Fanus 1872 lesbian vampire novella Carmilla, as well as creator of the award-winning short fairy-tale horror film Cornerboys.
The South Carolina native now lives in Bismarck, ND, where he writes poetry about movie monsters and murder-mysteries with werewolves in them. He also plays wicked lead guitar with Bismarck-based rock and roll band Blind Mice, lectures on vampires and Charles Dickens (though not at the same time), and generally frolics on the plains. He lives with his wife Gwyn and their two children Ian and Eva.


Reginald Spiffington is already dreading the weekend. His friend Moony has asked Reggie out to a country manor to assist Moony in getting the attention of a particular girl. Once there though, things get out of hand very quickly. A murder, a love interest, and a werewolf are only part of the trials Reggie must withstand. With the help of his valet Pelham, Reggie is determined to find the killer, help Moony get the girl, and eat some delicious food.

This book was so much fun! It has the amazing ability to pay homage to the great mystery novels of the past, while providing just enough mocking of their style without being mean. Reggie seems like a pretty fun chap, and I couldn't help but think I would like to spend some time with him. He handles everything as calmly and smoothly as possible. Of course, he would be helpless without his man Pelham. Pelham has an interesting past, and I was really interested in this. Pelham is definitely the kind of person I'd want around in my time of need. Mimsy was great, and I am dying to read one of her novels. I bet they are a hoot. Arabella was someone I was less impressed with in the beginning, but as the book went on she became a much more interesting character.

The mystery wasn't too mysterious, but even so I wasn't sure who the responsible party was. I went through several suspects before the killer was finally revealed. I also loved the genre mixing. This book was a little bit paranormal, a lot mystery. I thought the book was witty as well. It is also a rather quick read, and you never get bored when reading it. Overall I thought this was a great book.

Book provided for review.

And now for the giveaway!

Contest Info: Jamie is offering a giveaway for all entries gathered during the Tour. A signed copy of Barking Mad, 4 unique signed character cards and a DVD.

Open US/Canada.  See full contest rules here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the tour. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 6th - Reels Well Blog
Tuesday, February 7th - A Casual's Reader Blog 
Wednesday, February 8th - Evie Bookish
Thursday, February 9th - My Bookish Way's
Friday, February 10th - Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, February 13th - Sitting Here and Read
Tuesday, February 14th - Books and Things
Wednesday, February 15th - Books and Other Creative Adventures 
Thursday, February 16th - Sweeping Me
Friday, February 17th - Reviews by Molly
Monday, February 20th - Unabridged Andra
Tuesday, February 21st - Buried in Books
Wednesday, February 22nd - Hooked on Books
Thursday, February 23rd -Glorious Books 
Friday, February 24th - A Cupcake and A Latte

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