Erin Lindsey’s Rose Gallagher books are an engaging blend of mystery, romance, history, and the supernatural. A major character in the series is a young adventurer named Teddy roosevelt, who will become the 26th President of the United States.
“Of all the historical figures that I have researched over the years, he is by far the most compelling and the most interesting,” Lindsey says in episode 443 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “I’ve read a lot by him and about him at this point, and I still can’t get enough of it.
The series focuses on fictional heroes Rose Gallagher and Thomas Wiltshire, who work for a special paranormal branch of the Pinkerton Detective Agency. In the second book, A golden grave, they are drawn into Roosevelt’s 1886 race for mayor of New York. Book 3, The Money Drawer, takes them to the Wild West.
“Book 3 is Roosevelt asking them to investigate what he believes to be supernatural events at his ranch in the Dakota Badlands,” Lindsey says. “And that was based on a real and incredibly devastating winter that happened in 1886.”
The series includes ghosts, monsters, dimensional portals and a magic detector designed by Nicola Tesla, it all fits naturally with soldier / cowboy / statesman Teddy Roosevelt, who seems as much of a fantasy character as anything in the books. “All that [about Roosevelt], that sounds like a legend, ”says Lindsey. “It’s perfectly reasonable to think that all of these different lives could not have been led by the same person. But they were.
No matter how much fantasy the books contain, Lindsey makes sure that nothing contradicts a single historical fact. “I will submit to devious plots so as not to make things up,” she said. “If there’s documentary evidence that someone was in the bathroom at the time, they’re going to be in the bathroom in the book. Because it’s on paper.
Listen to Erin Lindsey’s full interview in Episode 443 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Erin Lindsey on her post:
“[Realms of the Dragons] was a foot in the door with Wizards of the Coast, which obviously does a lot of related fiction. They have a list of authors they use, and that meant I ended up on the list of people who were able to submit novels. And I ended up submitting a successful proposal for a novel for the Ravenloft line. … They ended up canceling the Ravenloft line before this book was written, so it was a huge heartache. I remember being devastated. I was in Congo at the time. I knew this would be bad news, as I got an email from my agent saying, “Can we talk? And I said to myself: “I am in the Congo”. And he said, ‘Yeah, but can we talk?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, that won’t be good news.’ “
Erin Lindsey on Networking:
“I was really a neophyte about it all. I remember, so distinctly, one of the only events I have been to. If it wasn’t JABberwocky hosting it, there were a lot of JABberwocky people there. Peter V. Brett was there, and Joshua [Bilmes] introduced us – Joshua is also his agent. He introduced us, and he said, “This is Erin, and she has five books under contract, and she’s living in Burundi right now.” And there was that look on Pete’s face, and he said, “Are you going to do two pounds a year?” And I said, “Yeah”. And you could see the struggle of him wanting to say “Are you crazy?” but be too polite. And he was just like, ‘Good. It’s zest. ‘ And I remember thinking at that point, “Did I make a terrible mistake?”
Erin Lindsey on Marketing:
“Minotaur is a mystery editor, not a specific editor. They market this – and have always marketed it – as “a historical mystery with a touch of the supernatural.” So definitely, in terms of the titles that were chosen for the books, the cover treatments, all of that, very deliberately points to a “ cozy historical mystery. ” It is no coincidence that this speculative element is not in the foreground. … So the element of surprise – “Surprise, there is a ghost!” – was definitely planned and deliberated. The bet is that more people will be pleasantly surprised than unpleasantly surprised. It has always been, I admit – and I hope it’s not too transparent to say – a bit biting for me as a strategy.
Erin Lindsey on the story:
“All three [Rose Gallagher books] started, in plot terms, with some actual historical event that felt fishy, or cool, or like a good plot device. So for the first book, it’s the explosion of Flood Rock. There are small islands in the East River, between Queens and Manhattan, and in 1885, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to detonate one, to facilitate passage of ships. It was, at the time, the biggest explosion ever, and it smashed windows all along the Hudson River. It was huge, and the newspapers did a lot of it. So you have this huge explosion in the East River in a place called “Hell Gate”, and I was like, “Obviously that’s a good place to start.” “