I am always happy for the chance to chat with one of the coolest & smartest people I know – Rachel McMillan. Today Rachel McMillan is back to talk about her new book (and new series) Murder at the Flamingo!
Rachel McMillan is a history enthusiast, lifelong bibliophile, and author of the Herringford and Watts series. When not reading (or writing), Rachel can be found at the theater, traveling near and far, and watching far too many British miniseries. Rachel lives in Toronto and is always planning her next trip to Boston.
“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”
Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square. When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand.
Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.
When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build.
Hi Rachel! Welcome back to the blog!
Rachel: HALLMARK AT CHRISTMAS IS THE REASON I EXIST!
Carrie: I really didn’t even have to ask the question to know the answer to this one 😉
Rachel: Music! ( I have never listened to an audiobook: actually, I have listened to one chapter of Murder at the Flamingo! That was neat!
Carrie: oh fun! Was that a little surreal? It would be for me….
Carrie: yet another reason I love you 🙂
Carrie: I love both, even though I’d pick mountains for a vacay first.
Q: Tell me some good books you’ve read lately
Rachel: I really loved Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan Henry, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, Caraval by Stephanie Garber and Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Carrie: oooo excellent choices, all! I’ve only read one of them but I’m salivating over the others 😀
Q: If I sneaked a peek in your purse right now (which I would never do, I promise!), what would it tell me about you?
Rachel: I love red lipstick. And leopard print! (this is very true lol) also that apparently I needed to pack two pairs sunglasses and two chargers today for some reason.
Carrie: LOL well… you can never be too prepared for bright days or phone battery emergencies.
Q: Which of your main characters is most like you?
Rachel: Hamish DeLuca and I are the same soul. By far Hamish. Though I do give Reggie my quips and one liners, I don’t know if I will ever connect to one of my characters to the extent I do Hamish.
Carrie: Hamish ♥
Q: Some authors like to hide little things in their stories. Is there anything you have hidden in your book?
Rachel: My niece Maisie is one of the loves of my life. She just turned 3 and her favourite colour is yellow. Maisie is a character name in the book and Reggie loves to wear yellow 🙂
Carrie: I love that!!
Q: You have been open about the fact that you share something with your hero Hamish – debilitating anxiety. What is the most important thing you have learned during your own battle that you could share with others who are in the same fight?
Rachel: That there is an incredible power to recognizing what you think is the weakest part of yourself and turning it into a strength. For me, I started to shift my perspective from being embarrassed to how I could use my writing skill and platform to create conversation and empathy. Hamish learns that some of the ramifications of his anxiety that he always thought held him back, give him a rare gift at reading people and determining when someone is being inauthentic (a great skill for an amateur detective). I also learned to stop hiding. A great example of this is at a recent work conference. The sheer number of people made my stutter flare up and my right hand to tremble. Rather than hide my hand or pretend I have laryngitis (tactics I had used before), I was honest with my coworkers “We’re in a confined space with lots of people, I have anxiety and this is just a flare up.” If they had questions, I answered. Then it wasn’t a big deal because they were part of the conversation.
Carrie: I think the more that people are honest about depression & anxiety, the less of a stigma they will have and the more understanding others will be.
Q: What is one of your favorite quotes from Murder at the Flamingo & why do you love it?
Rachel: One of my favourite quotes in this book comes from Hamish’s father, Ray DeLuca ( who readers may remember from my Herringford and Watts series). He’s a reporter who always tells Hamish that “sometimes stories are in the people whose life’s pages no one thinks of turning.” I always like to write about some sense of social justice and as Ray DeLuca as a muckraking immigrant reporter eked out the stories of the impoverished and poor in Edwardian Era Toronto, so Hamish and Reggie find a home in 1930s Depression Era Boston where at a clash with his cousin Luca’s glitzy nightclub, Hamish uses his law degree to help those who are being taken advantage of in the slum housing of the north end. I encourage all of us to “speak for those who cannot speak for themselves” and for me that means taking the time to turn a few new pages and find the stories therein. If needed, tell them to the world!
Carrie: I LOVE THAT QUOTE!!! (And Ray) (And you) 😀
Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Rachel: I just finished submitting the second Van Buren and DeLuca manuscript, Murder in the City of Liberty— for those of you (like me) who like some romance in their books: this ups the dial for Hamish and Reggie who are doing a poor job of navigating the crime of their beloved North End community with trying to stay “just friends.” The second novel is set while the racism from the overseas war (in which Hamish’s home country was already fighting) was rippling into beautiful Boston and comes at a high price for someone very close to Hamish and Reggie.
On a completely different note, I am publishing my 2nd of an intended 3 Vienna set novels( a follow up to Love in Three Quarter Time) called Rose in Three Quarter Time. Here, a conductor at the Musikverein in Vienna (Concert House) and his first violinist marry so she can get a green card and stay in the city. Unbeknownst to each other, they’re both madly in love with the other and meant their marriage vows. They could possibly live happily ever after—if their pesky marriage doesn’t get in the way! I love writing Vienna and this has been a great heart-project of mine.
Carrie: Yay! yay! yay!
What about you? What interests you most about Rachel and/or Murder at the Flamingo?