What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write The Shadow’s Voice?
The Shadow’s Voice is a sequel to The Winkler Case. The story for both books is set in 1948 in Chicago, in an era when LGBT life was lived in the shadows. As I researched what it was like for LGBT people during and after World War 2, I realized how much courage it took in those days for gay men and women to meet, fall in love, and build their lives together—almost always in secret. My characters are invented, but they represent real people. Their lives were a part of history that historians intentionally suppressed. My mission as a writer has been to tell these stories that were censored. In this book in particular, I wanted to be the shadow’s voice.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of The Shadow’s Voice, what would they be?
For Vito it would be opera. He’s Italian. He burns hot. In the book there’s a moment where Elliot plays a recording of the famous Italian tenor Caruso singing ‘Vesti la giubba’ from Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci. Quoting from the book: “It was one of Vito’s favorite arias. According to Vito, the song comes at the end of the first act, when the stage performer Canio discovers his wife’s infidelity, but despite this must prepare for his performance as Pagliaccio the clown. “The show must go on,” Vito said. “No matter how much it hurts. The people pay you and they want their laugh.” For Vito, the song was a reminder of what it felt like to be in the ring and take a fall—a swan dive, he called it—at the hands of ‘some cream puff’ that Walt Winkler had bet on to win.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I cannot pick a favorite. I like 19th-century novels, noir novels (James M. Cain’s novel Double Indemnity inspired The Winkler Case), mysteries and thrillers, and young adult fiction. I’ve written novels in all of these genres, though the young adult novel I’m working on right now has not yet been published. My jumping around in various genres has been a challenge for some readers. But I can’t help it. I want to write work that affects others the way the work I love has affected me.
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (young adult) – Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (19th century British) – The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly (P.I. Mystery) – Playback: A Novel by Raymond Chandler (noir).
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
I really had fun writing the scenes in which Elliot discovers Vito’s old letters. The letters represent coded correspondence written during the war. I felt like I was channeling the text of those letters. I also had a lot of fun with Minnie’s scenes at The Dome Room.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
I always have a real life model for every character’s voice. While writing The Winkler Case, for example, I was hearing the voice of the actor Edward G. Robinson in my head whenever I wrote dialogue for Martin Zimmerman. Similarly, it was the actress Eve Arden whose voice I heard when writing lines for Minnie McNally in The Shadow’s Voice. I truly love writing dialogue and this method of imagining a specific real world voice helps me with characterization.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Living with Joy by Sanaya Roman, along with the other books in her Earth Life series, form the basis of my personal philosophy. Here’s a quote from Living With Joy: “Freedom is an inner feeling. It is the ability to choose what you want. It is the knowledge that YOU are the captain of the ship. Freedom is knowing that you own your own life, that you are the one in charge.”
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
First, I want to recommend that anyone interested in The Shadow’s Voice start by reading The Winkler Case. The sequence is important! I hope readers will come away from these books with an expanded vision of history. History is always evolving. Help history grow more truthful by reading and sharing these untold stories!
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