Today my special guest is a fellow writer and friend of mine, Constance Phillips. I read and enjoyed her first book, Fairyproof, and when I heard that her second novel was out, a delicious story about none other than Harry Houdini and his wife, Bess, I couldn’t resist asking her to come by to talk about it.
So Constance, tell us a bit about Resurrecting Harry.
Can Harry Houdini Escape the grim reapers hold to save the only woman he’s ever loved?
That is the sum of the story. Erich a reincarnated Harry Houdini charged with keeping Bess from falling prey to those who would use her for their own gain, and to save her from becoming obsessed with mysticism and talking to the dead.
There is a bit of a mystery going, but all-in-all it’s a story about the great love these two celebrities shared.
What inspired you to craft a story about the great Harry Houdini and his widow?
My ideas for books come to me in the form of “What ifs”. Fairyproof started as “what if a fairy who was just getting by on her ability to charm men, met a man who was immune to her charms.” For Resurrecting Harry, I asked, “what if a well-known escape artist could actually escape death.”
Who is more well-known that Harry Houdini? So, I started doing a little research on the Houdini’s and when I found out it was pretty close to love at first sight for he and Bess, I was hooked on Harry being a romantic hero.
What was it like to use actual historical figures as your characters? What kind of research did you end up doing?
I’ve said it before, but I think it’s important for me to say again that I view this as my imaginative view of what would have happened had Harry been able to escape death and come back to Bess. Harry quickly becomes Erich in my story, and for Bess, she’s forever changed by meeting Erich.
That being said, I wanted to pepper the story with Houdini memories and true-to-life happenings.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing within a specific historical time period?
Staying true to the time period! Without a doubt, that was hard for me. From clothes, to language, to what they had and what they didn’t. I remember at one point writing a line saying that Bess worried her attraction to Erich was as obvious as a neon sign. As soon as I typed it, I thought, “Did they have neon then?”
It turns out they did, but it was brand new technology. I ended up changing the line because I decided it wouldn’t be her first thought in that day and age.
What inspired you to shift from the world of Fairyproof to that of Harry Houdini?
The odd thing is that Fairyproof was the stray road from what I normally write. I did that on purpose. The two manuscripts I worked on before Fairyproof were very dark. One of them (a non-romance) featured a hero who was a recovering drug addict trying to get his life back in order. The other (a romance) was actually a historical vampire saga. Very Dark! I felt as though the emotions from those manuscripts were spilling out into my everyday life and thinking and I sat down to write a very light, short and flirty fairy story.
A couple of my beta readers read the short and, while liked the story, encouraged me to expand it. They wanted more of Daniel and Monique than I’d put on the page. So, I started brainstorming a more layered plot that gave Monique’s brother Keiran an expanded role and added the fairy murders. It brought the story back around to my normal style of writing, but it’s still very different.
I love both books and their worlds though, and do have two sequels to each story plotted.
What’s up next for you?
Right now, I have two contemporary stories. One was rough drafted when Fairyproof sold, the other I wrote as a short story last year while editing Resurrecting Harry. I’m trying to get the first polished enough to pitch in the next month or two. The other, (like Fairyproof) I’ve decided to expand from a short story to a contemporary category-length story.
Once I have those out and into the world, I will be polishing Keiran’s book (Chasing Power/Fairyproof II), Chasing Power is in a completed rough draft form right now. There is also a short story in the Fairyproof world that is finished. I’m trying to decide how to include that into the series.
I hope that readers are able to get a few new books from me this year.
Thanks so much for coming by, Constance!