Today we have Mindy McGinnis on the blog to talk about her newest release, A Madness So Discreet. This book sounds like the perfect mixture between creepy and magical. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I did!
Grace Mae knows madness.She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.
1. Hello! I'm so happy to have you on the blog. So to break the ice a little, can you describe A Madness So Discreet in a tweet (140 characters)?
It's a Gothic historical thriller set in an insane asylum, with madness, murder, and mystery.
2. Your previous novels, Not A Drop To Drink and In A Handful of Dust, were dark survival stories. What inspired you to step into the mystery genre?
I always write whatever story inside me wants to come out next. I read widely, and so I write widely. MADNESS just happened to be the story that said, "It's my turn now."
3. Every time I read the description of A Madness So Discreet I get more excited. I think it's the "criminal psychology" part because I have a bachelors in psychology and I'm hoping to specialize in forensic psychology. That being said, I'm super interested in the research you did. Did you find that you had to do a lot more research than with your other books?
I researched for an entire year before writing a word of this book. There was much to learn – the beginnings of criminal psychology, the history of asylum medicine (both the good and the bad), and of course historical details in general. What kind of lighting would be in a room in 1890? What would an asylum inmate be wearing? I’m very particular, and there were days when I couldn’t finish a sentence without doing half an hour of research in order to make sure I got it (hopefully) right.
The specific setting – the Athens Lunatic Asylum in Ohio – has an amazing history. You can do a quick Google and learn about how it’s one of the most haunted places in the world and hear horror stories about the graveyard. And while I’m a fan of the supernatural, I’m also a fan of data. That type of history doesn’t interest me, because most of it quite frankly, just isn’t true.
The Athens asylum was actually an amazing model of humane treatment for the insane. If you were crazy (or just unlucky enough to be deemed so) in 1890, it was a good place to land. One of my best resources for the history of the asylum was Asylum On The Hill: History of A Healing Landscape, by Katherine Ziff. If you’d like to learn more about the actual history of the Athens Lunatic Asylum give it a shot.
4. If so, what was one piece of research that caught your attention but you didn't include in A Madness So Discreet? (If not you can completely ignore this question haha)
The spinning chair was something I wanted to get into the asylum, but there wasn't room for it in the narrative. Some doctors believed that madness was caused by the non-mixing of humors within the body, and so a "treatment" was to hang a chair from the ceiling, tie a patient into it, and spin them around until they passed out.
To learn more about the spinning chair, and other not so useful medical treatments, check out this YouTube video I made. https://www.youtube.com/
5. Ohhh, for those who don't know, you have a short story in Among the Shadows, a darker anthology. Can you tell us a little about your story and how it was different writing a short story versus a full length novel?
Sure! My short is titled "Phantom Heart" and is about a girl who absorbed her twin in the womb. But her sister's heart was stronger than her own, and retained it's position. As she ages it becomes clear that her sister would have been a very different person than she is, attracted to a totally different type of guy. It causes some issues for her.
In a lot of ways I think writing shorts is much more difficult than writing a novel. You've got less space to create tension and empathy.
6. There are some amazing books coming out this fall, which ones are you most excited for?
I'm most excited for SPINNING STARLIGHT by RC Lewis, WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER by Rae Carson and VENGEANCE ROAD by Erin Bowman .
7. What are your favorite things to do to get into the fall spirit?
Just being outside does the trick. The chilly air, the leaves falling - out where I live, the corn rustling. That's all it takes!
Thank you Mindy for being part of Creeptastic Reads!
About the Author
Mindy also contributes to the group blogs From the Write Angle, The Lucky 13s,Friday the Thirteeners, The League of Extraordinary Writers & Book Pregnant. She is a member of the Class of 2k13 and a volunteer moderator for the writing community at AgentQuery Connect, under the screenname bigblackcat97.