BLOG TOUR | A Front Page Affair

Today I'm excited to introduce to you a A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal. It's a historical mystery told with a great deal of historical facts. Vatsal's words really brought me back in time as I understand and learn certain things about the time period as well as what the beginning of WWI has done to the people of United States.

The Blacksheep Project is so pleased to have Radha Vatsal share to us how she did her research for A Front Page Affair, the first book in the Kitty Weeks Mystery.

*             *             *

How did you do your research for A FRONT PAGE AFFAIR?

A Front Page Affair is set in 1915, and my fascination with the period grew out of my graduate studies in silent-era cinema. So I developed the concept for the novel already knowing something about that time period–at least about the films that people watched, and the stars that they loved, everyone from Douglas Fairbanks to Charlie Chaplin to Mary Pickford and Pearl White, the action film star.

Still, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the minutia of everyday life in the 1910s. As much as possible, I didn’t want to be making things up. I consulted resources from automobile manuals, to etiquette guides, home decorating books, career guides, road maps and more.  I discovered fascinating details. For instance, in 1915, it was possible to travel from New York City to New Jersey by train or ferry, but not directly by car. There were tunnels under the Hudson River that allowed trains to go back and forth but no bridge that connected Manhattan to New Jersey.

I also learned that you didn’t have to have a driver’s license to drive—only chauffeurs needed those. If you owned your own car, you could just drive it (presumably, after taking a lesson.) Etiquette guides taught me that, “’Good-morning’ is the appropriate greeting till noon.  ‘Good-afternoon’ and ‘Good-evening’ are the greetings for the later hours of the day. ‘Goodbye’ is, however, the common and most acceptable form farewell. After an evening entertainment, it is permissible also to see ‘Good-night’ instead. ‘Good-day,’ ‘Good-afternoon,’ and ‘Good-evening,’ used in farewell, are provincial.”

Obviously, I couldn’t use all of this in the story. But it colored my understanding of the 1915 world of my protagonist, Ladies’ Page reporter, Capability “Kitty” Weeks.  Kitty lives in a world of rules and expectations, especially for women. If she breaks rules then so be it—but for her to break them, first I had to know about them, and that’s where the research came in handy.

Also, the plot of A Front Page Affair hinges on little-known historical events. I first learned about these in a documentary, then researched them in current books and finally went back to period newspapers to see how the events were reported at the time that they occurred. It was painstaking work, but as a reader I like to know that what I’m reading is accurate, and as a writer, I enjoy working within the limitations of historical fact. If something material to the plot occurred on a Monday, I don’t switch it to the weekend just to make it convenient for the narrative.  Similarly, if there’s no bridge to New Jersey, Kitty can’t drive there.  She has to take the ferry or train. (Kitty doesn’t go to New Jersey in A Front Page Affair, but she did in an earlier version of the book, and I’m sure she will in the future!) For more on the historical research that went into the novel, as well as a glimpse of ephemera from the 1910s—everything from cars, to books, movies, Europe’s royalty and more— please check out the World of Kitty Weeks Tumblr.

*             *             *

{ about the book }

Series: Kitty Weeks Mystery #1
 Radha Vatsal
 adult, historical fiction, mystery
 May 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository

New York City, 1959
The Lusitania has just sunk, and headlines about a shooting at J.P. Morgan's mansion and the Great War are splashed across the front page of every newspaper. Capability "Kitty" Weeks would love nothing more than to report on the news of the day, but she's stuck writing about fashion and society gossip over on the Ladies' Page - until a man is murdered as a high society picnic on her beat. 
Determined to prove herself as a journalist, Kitty finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States's attempt to remain neutral and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known. 
RADHA VATSAL's A Front Page Affair is the first book in a highly anticipated series featuring rising journalism star Kitty Weeks.

*             *             *
Radha Vatsal is a writer based in New York City. She was born in Mumbai, India and has a Ph.D. from the English Department at Duke University. Her debut novel, A Front Page Affair, comes out this May from Sourcebooks Landmark. You can write to her at or friend her on Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

follow links:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...