Saturday, December 30, 2017

Brooklyn Wars

Weekend guest Triss Stein is a small–town girl from New York farm country who has spent most of her adult life in Brooklyn. She writes mysteries about different Brooklyn neighborhoods and their unique histories, in her ever-fascinating, ever-changing, ever-challenging adopted home. In the new book, Brooklyn Wars, murder gets in the way as heroine Erica Donato researches the proud history and slow death of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

My current book, Brooklyn Wars, was released in August so now I am deep into writing the next book in the series. There are writers who plan out an entire book before writing begins. I am not one of them. Every new book has a few surprises for me.

My amateur sleuth is a historian, a specialist in Brooklyn history, and her writing about Brooklyn’s varied neighborhoods gives her a reason to ask questions. She regularly stumbles across people who don’t want some questions answered. Or even asked.

So every book starts with a real place, a neighborhood that has interesting potential. I begin in the Brooklyn history room of the public library. I sit down with a stack of clipping files and a stack of books. Brooklyn Wars is set against the background of the renowned Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was already more than a century old when World Ward ii began, but that became its finest hour. I fully intended to build a book around it. It was the largest shipyard in the world in those years, employing more than 70, 000 people, many of them women doing what had been “men’s” jobs.

New York in wartime? Spies on the waterfront? The mob on the waterfront? Women’s changing expectations? The never-solved burning of the French ship, Normandie? There was a story possibility in every article.

But wait. I soon realized that the generation that lived those stories is mostly gone now. A contemporary mystery with roots in that past would be hard to pull off.

But wait. Those files told a few more stories, including the devastating closing of the yard in 1966, the long downhill slide of the property and its surprising current rebirth. And there was an entire dissertation in the library files, with a new plot idea on every page. In the end, I did manage to layer a bit of the wartime story in there too.
The work in progress is about Brooklyn Heights, one of the oldest parts of Brooklyn, the first suburb, the home of Brooklyn high society, and the scene of an important Revolutionary War battle. (Washingon lost). It was also the first Historic District in New York. I expected to learn a lot about that civic battle, with city planners/developers on one side and preservationists on the other.

What I did not expect to find was a third player, a somewhat mysterious religious organization which owns a large stake in the neighborhood. Hmmm. What can I do with that?

Stay tuned.


Donis Casey said...

Fabulous books, Triss.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Your Brooklyn series sounds wonderful. I have your latest on order.

Triss said...

Thank you, Donia and Charlotte. I am happy to be here at Type M.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Hi, Triss. Lovely to see you here. Looking forward to reading your latest -- and the Brooklyn shipyard book.

Unknown said...

Your books are new to me I will definitely look them up

Sybil Johnson said...

I'm adding your books to my reading list. They sound quite interesting.

Triss said...

Hi, Frankie, and happy to meet Mary Ellen and Sybil. Thanks for stopping by. (I am catching up on Jan. 2 so best New Year wishes to all.)