A question and answer session with Byrd Nash about her new gaslamp fantasy ghost series. Byrd gives details about the books and how they fit into the overall series which has a trace of Sherlock Holmes, Gail Carriger, and Victorian spiritualism in a city with a European early 1900s feel to it.

How did the recent book launch go for Ghost Talker?

The first book, Ghost Talker, launched last week and so far reception from readers has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s always a great feeling when something you have created pleases people!

This first in the series establishes the tone and background for the world and characters. So far people love Elinor (the main character), her friend, Charlotte LaRue (the coroner), and duke de Archambeau (her enemies to lover counterpart).

Here’s some of the feedback from readers!

Love Elinor! – an independent, smart, self-made woman;

Witty gaslamp fantasy with great banter;

Unique fantasy world with ghost, mediums, and murder;

Fast paced with interesting characters;

Combines historical atmosphere, fantasy, and paranormal in a winning combination;

Fantastic world building with a new approach to ghosts.

Amazon reviews

What is your vision for this gaslamp ghost series?

I’m halfway through writing the series (Ghost Talker 1, Delicious Death 2, Spirit Guide 3 done), and it’s shaping up just like I envisioned.

The emotional myth arc is about an independent woman who wants to have it all – but what will be the cost? Elinor exists in a world that has a strict social strata. She is the commoner, Tristan Fontaine the nobleman. Sure, she could give up her independence but it would be a huge sacrifice. In the end, would she be happy being the Duchesse de Archambeau?

Elinor is a self-made woman with her own income. She’s clearly attracted to Tristan Fontaine but what price will she be willing to pay to give up her autonomy?

It’s a modern question, but fantasy allows me the ability to explore this in a novel way that a contemporary story wouldn’t. For example, in this world there are legal reasons why a married woman loses certain freedoms that we take for granted in our modern times (money, being seen by the law as an individual). The “will-she?” does have real consequences.

There is also the plot myth arc: who murdered Augustus Chalamet, Elinor’s father? And why? Elinor’s need to know was the motivation for joining the Morpheus Society in the first place, in a hope ghosts could help her.

As each book unfolds, this mystery deepens and in the last two stories (Untimely Grave 5, and Ghastly Mistake 6) what she discovers rocks Elinor’s world to the core, endangering her, Tristan Fontaine, and the king of Sarnesse.

Your books often explore relationships. Is that by design?

I love exploring people and how they connect with others! What probably intrigues me the most about creating a story is the characters within it. Why do they think and behave in the way they do? And how does the adventure, the tribulations, change them.

The Madame Chalamet Ghost Mystery series will explore the give and take of love in a relationship. It’s all well and good to have an attraction but when it comes down to acting upon it, there are real consequences as Elinor learns.

Even between enemies we have bonds, and choosing to release ourselves from their power means having feelings that we must deal with. Whether those relationships are between siblings like in A Spell of Rowans, or the entanglements of friendships (see the College Fae series), we are defined by who cares for us, and how we care for others.

This is a new genre for you as a writer. How did that work out?

It’s been a lot of fun and probably easier then readers might expect. I’m very familiar with the Victorian time period (see Price of a Rose) and was a lover of Sherlock Holmes before it became fashionable. What readers may not realize is how comparable the late 1890s-early 1900s is to our own world. I bought a lot of mysteries written by authors of that time period and their language is almost modern..

A fascinating writer of the time is Anna Katharine Green. She is attributed as being the first American woman mystery writer, wrote before Sherlock Holmes made his appearance, had an elderly spinster sleuth far before Miss Marple’s appearance, developed the locked room mystery, and the girl detective.

Reading her original stories was an interesting journey into the society of the time when women were wanting roles for themselves other then homemaker (interestingly Green opposed suffrage), but were still placed on a pedestal by men as having noble virtues due to their sex. One of her stories had the main female who rejects her small child as she has no motherly feeling. What was probably daring at the time was the mother was written sympathetically (see The Millionaire Baby)

It is this complex time period with technological advances and the changing fabric of society, that I really wanted to explore in this series. Elinor’s conflicts about being a self-made woman who is independent wanting a relationship that would force her to give up her autonomy is a real conflict presented through most of the series.

Why are these novella sized stories and not full-length books?

I like the fast-pace of novellas and it’s no surprise that one of my first books was a collection of short stories (see Wicked Wolves of Windsor and other stories).

Probably from my years as a working journalist, I like stories that are straight to the point without a lot of info dumps or a confusing world hard to understand. My husband says (and fans have agreed) that I have a talent for sketching out characters quickly that a reader understands and relates to. I also really enjoy making stories where the reader fills in the backstory from the little clue-crumbs I drop; this makes them really enjoyable as re-reads.

On a practical note, writing shorter stories (these are about 45,000 words versus my books at about 65,000-80,000), gives me time to develop things at the pace I like write. Writing novellas means I can output more unique stories to you the reader, and it gives me more time to be creative with my stories. For example, instead of one long mystery, Elinor will have six in which to solve.

What’s this about a tabletop ghost game for the series?

This is a project I’m developing with my kids (both adults now who love these types of games). Based loosely upon the series, there will be a haunted house with different missions that a variety of characters can pursue to win the game.

The game will be a FREE download. I’m making it so a new adventure can be formed for each session. All the player will need is to print out the cards and have some dice on hand. The game can accommodate up to 8 players (4-6 is probably best), and on age I’d recommend 12+ just for reading skills.

Tell us more about each book in the series

Ghost Talker: We meet Elinor Chalamet, a woman around thirty years of age who has been working as a medium for about twelve years. This book introduces the reader to the series, and the main characters. It establishes the world, how ghosts abide in it, and the scope of Elinor’s abilities.

We also meet Tristan Fontaine, duke de Archambeau, who will become Elinor’s foil throughout the series. He does work for the king of Sarnesse and quickly becomes interested in Elinor, although sometimes not in the way Elinor might prefer.

It has a few bits of humor and is a quickly moving adventure. I really like creating fantasy worlds which readers can slip into it easily without a lot of info-dumps.

Delicious Death: After wrangling an invitation from Archambeau, Elinor attends the Winter Revels, a weeklong festival where chefs will compete for a prize. Things get a bit sticky, through, when there is an attempted assassination. In this book, Archambeau and Elinor become working partners and their rivalry gets established. A mutual attraction deepens.

Dr. Charlotte LaRue accompanies Elinor (which was rather a writing accident, I had intended this to be another character but Charlotte butted in) and this actually made the book hilarious. While Elinor can be blunt, Charlotte takes it to new levels. The interaction between all of the main characters was a joy to write.

Spirit Guide: This novella returns to Alenbonné, and gives us background about the Morpheus Society – the group that trained Elinor as a medium. We also get more background about Elinor herself. The relationship between her and Archambeau heats up.

As an author, this is a turning point in the series. Elinor is starting to learn more about her father’s death, and finds herself falling in love. Something that isn’t going to be the most comfortable place for her.

Gray Lady: The beginning of this book will be familiar to Sherlock Holmes fans who have read the Adventure of the Devil’s Foot. Like Holmes, Elinor is on a medical rest due to events at the end of Spirit Guide.

She eventually agrees to help Lady Valentina (Archambeau’s sister) with a puzzling mystery, the appearance of a Woman in White. This ghostly appearance means means a new bride will die on the wedding night.

Elinor and Archambeau’s romance becomes rather heated. Elinor decides to take the plunge despite their obvious differences. I think this one may end up being the most romantic of them all.

Untimely Grave: Someone has learned how to re-animate the dead. The problem is how to kill them (again)? Trapped, Elinor and Archambeau might have to discuss their feelings before they save the country. After rushing into a passionate relationship, both have to figure out how to deal with their own baggage if they want the relationship to work.

Ghastly Mistake: Betrayed, Elinor must try to save the king, while not worrying about the danger the infuriating man she loves faces. Elinor and Archambeau’s differences come to a head, and Elinor makes a very big decision for a future that might not have a duke in it.

When will these stories be available?

This collection is being published in rapid-release which means every 3-4 months a new novella will publish. For a full list of the books, samples, and buy links visit here.

Follow me at Bookbub or Goodreads to get an email notification when when each story releases and for the giveaways I’ll be doing!


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