Today, I have the pleasure to interview Radha Vasal. She is the author of A Front Page Affair. It is the first novel in this historical mystery series that features the amateur sleuth, Kitty Weeks. Kitty Weeks is a journalist that writes for the "Ladies' Page" for The Sentinel. However, she wants to about other topics in within the newspaper. When she stumbles upon a murder, she finds an opportunity where her dreams may turn into reality. I have read and reviewed A Front Page Affair and enjoyed it immensely. I hope this interview will give you some further insight about her debut novel. Thank you, Miss Vasal.
What drew you to write historical mysteries?
I love mysteries and I love period piece dramas. I also love learning about history. It seemed like a great fit to put all my interests together.
What drew you to that particular time period?
I’m fascinated by all the changes that took place during the 1910s. As readers, we may be more familiar with the robber barons of the late 19th-century, or the flappers of the 1920’s Jazz Age. But the 1910s are the decade in which New York and America went from being Victorian to modern. How did so much change happen so rapidly? We find out during the World War I decade.
Was it liberating to write about a strong nontraditional woman in a patriarchal society?
It was very liberating to write about a strong nontraditional woman in a patriarchal society but I also felt I needed to create realistic obstacles for Kitty to navigate. She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s well-off, and she drives her own car. That gives her a lot of freedom but it also creates problems and results in unanticipated consequences.
How difficult is it to come up an original mystery that will keep readers interest but not too easy to solve?
It’s not easy at all! I worked on A Front Page Affair for many years. The trick, I think, it’s to keep the journey interesting. So even if the reader guesses who committed the crime, they want to know how it was done, why, or other details.
How did you do research for A Front Page Affair?
I look at secondary sources for general overviews but mainly I rely on sources from the 1910s. I list many of these at the back of the novel, and you can see that they consist of a variety of materials: guidebooks, advice manuals, newspapers, magazines, and even advertisements.
What do you hope readers can take away from the novel?
For me, the takeaway is that we are where we are today because of series of events, some well known and others more unexpected. We shouldn’t take anything for granted but always ask questions about how things came to be.
This is the first novel in the Kitty Weeks series. How many novels do you have planned so far in this series?
I’ve already written the second book in the series, and I’m in the planning stages for book 3. I’d like to series go on through the end of World War I and up to 1920—when women won the right to vote.
What should readers expect of Kitty Weeks in the next novel?
The next novel takes place between December 1915-January 1916. President Wilson has just remarried while in office and he urges the country to prepare for war, while Kitty investigates the death of a boarding-school student whose mother is a suffragist and whose father works for the Navy.
Radha Vasal is the author for A Front Page Affair. She lives in New York City and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America-NY, sisters in Crime-NY, and International Thriller Writers.
Also check out my review of her novel: