Episode 540 | Lyndsay Faye Interview
Today my author interview guest on Author Stories is Lyndsay Faye. Lyndsay’s new book The Paragon Hotel is an amazing historical thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages. After the
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The new and exciting historical thriller by Lyndsay Faye, author of Edgar-nominated Jane Steeleand Gods of Gotham, which follows Alice “Nobody” from Prohibition-era Harlem to Portland’s the Paragon Hotel.
The year is 1921, and “Nobody” Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.
She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter who reminds her achingly of Harlem, who leads Alice to the Paragon Hotel upon arrival in Portland. Her unlikely sanctuary turns out to be the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. But as she meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and the unforgettable club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine, she begins to understand the reason for their dread. The Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland in fearful numbers–burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only Alice, along with her new “family” of Paragon residents, are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who has mysteriously vanished into the Oregon woods.
Why was “Nobody” Alice James forced to escape Harlem? Why do the Paragon’s denizens live in fear–and what other sins are they hiding? Where did the orphaned child who went missing from the hotel, Davy Lee, come from in the first place? And, perhaps most important, why does Blossom Fontaine seem to be at the very center of this tangled web?
Lyndsay Faye moved to Manhattan in 2005 to audition as a professional actress; her schedule opened up when her day-job restaurant was knocked down with bulldozers. Her first novel Dust and Shadow: an Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson is a tribute to the aloof genius and his good-hearted friend whose exploits she has loved since childhood. After writing fifteen additional short stories over the next six years, she collected them in the critically acclaimed The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes.
Faye’s fascination with the origins of the New York City Police Department led to her first Best Novel Edgar Award nomination; The Gods of Gotham, Seven for a Secret, and The Fatal Flame follow ex-bartender Timothy Wilde as he navigates the rapids of his turbulent city, learning police work in a riotous pre-Civil War political landscape. Following this trilogy, Faye turned to what she calls “satirical romance.” Her Edgar-nominated Jane Steele re-imagines Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer who battles for justice with methods inspired by Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Her latest novel, The Paragon Hotel, follows “Nobody” Alice James as she flees the Harlem Mafia only to wind up in Ku Klux Klan-plagued Portland, Oregon in 1921.
Aside from the Edgar, Faye was nominated for a Dilys Winn Award, was featured in Best American Mystery Stories 2010, and is honored to have been selected by the American Library Association’s RUSA Reader’s List for Best Historical. She is an international bestseller and has been translated into 14 languages. While she doesn’t teach writing professionally in any capacity (nor is she remotely qualified), she does a great deal of volunteer mentoring and workshops for libraries. In 2016, she was thrilled to implement the National Mentorship Program at Mystery Writers of America, and continues to serve as its coordinator.
Born in Northern California and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Lyndsay migrated back to “the Peninsula” and graduated from Notre Dame de Namur University with a dual degree in English and Performance. She worked as a professional actress throughout the Bay Area for several years, nearly always in a corset, and if not a corset then–at the least–heels and lined stockings. She has a very high pop belt and is a soprano, supposing that interests you.
Lyndsay and her husband Gabriel live in Ridgewood, Queens. During the few hours a day Lyndsay isn’t writing or editing, she is most often cooking, cooing at her houseplants, nuzzling her cat (Prufrock), or sifting through thrift store racks for designer clothing. She is a very proud member of Actor’s Equity Association, the Adventuresses of Sherlock Holmes, the Baker Street Babes, the Baker Street Irregulars, and Mystery Writers of America. She is hard at work on her next novel…always.
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