Episode 416: Costumes, Performance, and Identity in Historical Mysteries – Interview with Shelley Blanton-Stroud

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, Lori is interviewing Shelley Blanton-Stroud. They’ll be talking about historical mysteries and Shelley’s book Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel.

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In this episode Shelley Blanton-Stroud and Lori discuss:

  • Creating a contemporary character in a historical fiction novel.
  • How we create our identity versus how we reveal our identity.
  • The important role that reading plays in developing your craft as a writer.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Shelley Blanton-Stroud

Shelley grew up in California’s Central Valley, the daughter of Dust Bowl immigrants who made good on their ambition to get out of the field. She recently retired from teaching writing at Sacramento State University and still consults with writers in the energy industry. She co-directs Stories on Stage Sacramento, where actors perform the stories of established and emerging authors, and serves on the advisory board of 916 Ink, an arts-based creative writing nonprofit for children. She has also served on the Writers’ Advisory Board for the Belize Writers’ Conference. Her writing has been a finalist in the Sarton Book Awards, IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award, the American Fiction Awards, and the National Indie Excellence Awards. 

She lives in Sacramento with her husband and many photos of their out-of-town sons and their wonderful partners.

Copy Boy is her first Jane Benjamin Novel. Tomboy, which we’ll be discussing today, is her second. The third, Working Girl, will come out in November 2023.

You can find her on her website or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Tomboy: A Jane Benjamin Novel

It’s 1939. On the brink of World War II, Jane Benjamin wants to have it all. By day she hustles as a scruffy, tomboy cub reporter. By night she secretly struggles to raise her toddler sister, Elsie, and protect her from their mother. But Jane’s got a plan: she’ll become the San Francisco Prospect’s first gossip columnist and make enough money to care for Elsie.

Jane finagles her way to the women’s championship at Wimbledon, starring her hometown’s tennis phenom and cover girl Tommie O’Rourke. She plans to write her first column there. But then she witnesses Edith “Coach” Carlson, Tommie’s closest companion, drop dead in the stands of an apparent heart attack, and her plan is thrown off track.

While sailing home on the RMS Queen Mary, Jane veers between competing instincts: Should she write a social bombshell column, personally damaging her new friend Tommie’s persona and career? Or should she work to uncover the truth of Coach’s death, which she now knows was a murder, and its connection to a larger conspiracy involving US participation in the coming war?

Putting away her menswear and donning first-class ballgowns, Jane discovers what upper-class status hides, protects, and destroys. Ultimately—like nations around the globe in 1939—she must choose what she’ll give up in order to do what’s right.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Bookshop.org affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you, and you get to support independent bookstores! As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 416

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