Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Interview with paranormal mystery author Tam Francis

My special guest today is novelist Tam Francis. She’s chatting with me about her new 1920’s paranormal time travel mystery, The Flapper Affair.

Tam Francis writes historical romantic fiction with a pen in one hand and a vintage cocktail in the other. She has taught swing dancing for fifteen years with her husband and is an avid collector of vintage sewing patterns, retro clothing, and antiques. All of which make appearances in her stories. She also writes sci-fi, paranormal, memoir, personal essay, and poetry.

Born in Erie Pennsylvania into a military family, she grew up traveling the United States, always the new girl in town. At an early age, she wrote to entertain herself on long treks from one post to another. Landing in Arizona, she attended University of Arizona before moving with her Navy husband to his duty station in San Diego, CA. They eventually made their way to the lone star state, making a home in the BBQ capital of Texas.
She began her writing career as a poet and Poetry Slammer, (two-time National Poetry Slam Phoenix Team, Scottsdale Center for the Arts Poetry Art Walk Featured Poet, New Times Feature Poet, and more). Expanding to short story and feature writing, she advanced to editor-in-chief of two indie magazines.

She has been published in Texas Writer’s Journal, The Lucid Stone, Coffeelicious, and other print and electronic publications. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America. Her skills have garnered speaking engagements at The International Society for Women Educators (DKG) and Concordia College in Austin, where she spoke about writing genre fiction, creating your own niche, and blogging.

She currently has four titles available: two in the Jitterbug Dress Series, single title The Flapper Affair, and short story collection Ghostoria: Vintage Romantic Tales of Fright. She lives in a 1908 home in Lockhart, Texas that may or may not be haunted.

Welcome, Tam. Please tell us about your current release.
Eduard Hall is an odd young man. Unlike his eighteen-year-old peers, he likes black and white movies, 1920s hot jazz, and museum docents who dress in reproduction flapper dresses. So, it would figure that the one girl he'd fall in love with, Mia Waverly, would be a beautiful ghost from the famous Waverly family, brutally murdered seventy years ago. Though her body was never found.

The only home she’s ever known is the museum where Eduard works, but not for long. The city’s sold the land, and the building is scheduled for demolition. Why can’t she remember her death? Why is she the only ghost from her family? Why is she bound to the property? What will happen to her when her home is destroyed?

With time running out and through extraordinary forces, they travel back in time to the night of the murders, setting off a chain of events that will change everything. If they can solve the mystery, they may save her and her family, but lose each other forever.

The Flapper Affair is the story of two young lovers crossed by time, space, and an unsolved murder.

What inspired you to write this book?
I had written a short story collection of ghost stories and had contemplated writing a second volume. I went to sleep thinking about it and woke with the idea of a new-adult falling in love with a girl who turns out to be a ghost. Where there’s a ghost, there has to be a reason for the ghost, and the murder mystery evolved from there. Although I love the 1940s, I have always admired the freedom and cheek of 1920s flapper women and wanted to explore that in the character of Mia Waverly.

Excerpt from The Flapper Affair:
Eduard gaped at the bloody pictures of the 1920s crime scene. Anesthetized in black and white, the horror flashed across the wall in sterile vignettes of the Waverly Mansion.
Now a museum, the mansion’s juxtaposition of curved lines and sharp angles in clean, simple silhouettes was touted as an early example of art deco style—though not called art deco by its designer. But what really put the mansion on the map were the unsolved murders of the entire Waverly family.

* * *

“Are you lost?”

He jumped and turned in the direction of a girl’s voice.

“Hello, you. Lost?” The pretty docent smiled. It was not the guide from their field trip.
This girl—woman—was different.

Eduard caught his breath. She was exactly the kind of girl he dreamed about, one who embodied the style and character of the 1920s era. Her bobbed hair fell in loose, dark curls around her pale face. The afternoon sun shone through her beaded peach dress, illuminating the outline of her slender figure in willowy shadows. A tremor ran through his limbs. He became aware of every inch of his body.

“I, uh. No. I’m with the group. The school. The school group. Field trip.” Words stumbled out of his mouth, resounding idiotic and childish in his own ears. Sweat broke out across his back, the air-conditioning suddenly chilling him to the bone.

“Which group would that be?” She cocked her head to one side. Her auburn curls fell teasingly across her cheek.

He realized his class had moved on without him. “Which group?” he repeated and adjusted the strap on his satchel. “The Chaparral High School group. Do you have another field trip here?”

Was I rude? I didn’t mean to imply she was unintelligent. Why isn’t my brain connecting with my mouth?

“No, I suppose there’s no other tour here right now.” She smiled. “I really do not pay attention to high school tour groups.”

He couldn’t tell her age in the old-fashioned garb. The gauzy sequin dress draped the young woman’s curvy frame, shimmering like leaves in a breeze. He warmed another degree.

“Well, you could show me around, since I’ve lost my group,” he said in a rush, speaking more to this strange girl than he had to most girls his entire high school career.

“It would be an honor.” She turned toward the door. Eduard followed. He didn’t want to get too hopeful. After all, she was probably too old for him, but he decided right then and there, what he needed was a college girl. And she must like history and the 1920s. Why else would she want to work in the museum and wear a flapper costume?

What exciting story are you working on next? I’m working on The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress Dances in the Dark, the exciting trilogy wrap up of the Jitterbug Dress Series. I’m also working on a short story collection with each story having some kind of dance in it, but each exploring different themes and eras.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I became a published and paid poet in college while attending University of Arizona, but it wasn’t until I wrote my first novel several years ago that I began calling myself a writer. I still have a day job (as a substitute teacher), so as much as I am a writer, it is not my only job.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Besides the day job, I’m also a mother of two teens who are very active. I also run a youth and teen summer theatre camp at our regional theatre as well as directing and acting in theatrical productions.

I write everywhere and anywhere I can. I’ve been known to write or edit sitting in the carpool lane, halftime at a soccer game, at Starbucks during club soccer practice. I’ve brought my laptop to regional choir competitions when I was a chaperone. I wrote in the hospital when staying overnight with my mom. I write in the car on long car trips. I wish I had some great schedule--as suggested by blogs and craft books--but I fit it in. If I’m not creating, I get depressed. I’ve got to feed the creative need.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
That I can write anywhere. Irish whiskey or dark ale, Earl gray tea with lavender, and dark chocolate are my go-to accessories for long writing jags.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ginger Rogers or a Charlie’s Angel, specifically Kate, the smart one. It’s wonderful I get to be them in my stories. But as a career: detective, actor, psychologist, writer, costumer, tea-shop owner, baker, linguist, world traveler, the list goes on.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I began writing ghost stories when we moved to Texas and bought a hundred-year-old house. The theatre we are part of has three different ghosts, two residents, and one occasional visitor. I’ve also played several different “spirits” for our annual “Speaking of the Dead” event for the Historic Commission.

I like to think of my novels and short stories as “vintage ChickLit,” incorporating fashion in my writing. How a particular piece of clothing makes the character feel. How a gabardine skirt feels unfurling in a dance spin. Or how a beaded dress hugs the body like a protective sheath or a crepe wool coat with a fur color tickles the chin and makes a character smile.

Fashion reflects character and can reveal our inner selves. Fashion can inspire us, make us feel confident, and empower us.


Find The Girl in the Jitterbug Dress on Amazon, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and

Thanks for being here today, Tam. All the best with your writing.

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