New Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Novel Announced

The Minuscule MonkNine Muses Books announces a new full-length Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective novel to be published entitled The Minuscule Monk.  This is the first novel-length Lizzie adventure and will be published as both a print book and an e-book in the summer of 2015.

When a dead body mysteriously appears in the basement of her father’s furniture store, 15 year-old Lizzie Andrew Borden immediately takes on the case. Accompanied by an eccentric millionaire who campaigns to extend the vote to animals; a Boston terrier trained to sniff out crooked politicians; and a boy detective who believes the entire universe to be inside his own head, Lizzie follows a trail of taxidermy tools and Civil War bushwhackers to the Minuscule Monk, a legendary gunslinger whose mummified body will bring a punter’s pot to anyone who can deliver it to the New York gangster who has been hunting the Monk for decades. With such high stakes, everyone has a motive for murder, yet everyone seems innocent. Or perhaps, as Lizzie suspects after attending a dinner party with non-existent food and meeting a horse that has turned into its opposite, none of it is even real.

Lizzie Borden, the Girl Detective of Fall River, is at her most spirited in The Minuscule Monk, a comic mystery that paints a portrait of Fall River at the height of its splendor and its most infamous citizen at the start of her most excellent career.

Check back for publication date and further announcements.

Interview with Richard Behrens

How did you first come up with the concept of Lizzie Borden being a girl detective?

I happened to order a few old Nancy Drew books over EBay. My intention was to read them for fun since my sister had all of them when I was growing up and I had read several when I was in grade school. Reading as an adult, they are so breezy and a lot of fun, but I was surprised how much sinister stuff was in them. The older 1930s Nancy Drew smoked and actually carried a gun. So I decided to sketch out a spoof of the genre, just for fun.

I made up a girl detective living in the 1930s. Her father is a big attorney in town and she has a kooky house maid and sidekick pal from school, etc. But when I wrote a few pages and read it back, it seemed too much like the original, like I couldn’t spoof it because it already had that comic edge to it. The only thing I could do to make it funnier was to place it in another century.

I toyed around with a few time periods. For a while I wanted to do London during the time of Queen Elizabeth, so the girl detective could be the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Southampton and have access to people like Shakespeare and solve the death of Christopher Marlowe. But I admit I got lazy and felt it would involve too much research.

I had already been reading about Lizzie Borden and visiting the Bed & Breakfast and all that Fall River stuff was fresh in my mind. So I sketched out a girl detective in New England during the 1890s. She can solve the Borden murders, I joked.

Then it hit me like a thunderbolt. Why not make her Lizzie Borden? After writing a few pages I had myself in stiches and I knew I had hit upon something with great entertainment value. The Borden Family turned out to be a better source of satire and drama than an Elizabethan theater company.

Did you have any hope at that point of getting it published?

I felt it had great commercial potential. The title alone made everyone crack up. But it was still a few years before books like Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and all those Jane Austen monster mash-ups so I wasn’t quite sure. Besides I had to write the stories first and see how they turned out. Fortunately, I had an offer from The Hatchet magazine, the journal of Lizzie Borden studies, to pursue this and had help from a few people who knew a lot about the historical Bordens. Talking to them and visiting Fall River gave me a lot of inspiration. I began publishing the stories in The Hatchet and its sister magazine The Literary Hatchet and felt content with that for a few years. The concept was still taking shape.

What did you have to do to prepare for writing about Lizzie Borden?

I chatted up everyone I knew who had connections with Fall River or the historic house. I visited the Fall River Historical Society, studied as much Fall River history as I could, and read thousands of pages of primary source material including the murder hearings, the trial transcripts and the few books that could be historically trusted. Two of the best references are Lizzie Borden: Past and Present by Len Rebello and Parallel Lives by Michael Martins and Dennis Binette of the Fall River Historical Society. So many books out there are junk, especially the true crime paperbacks. The best book for an introductory experience is actually a graphic novel called The Borden Tragedy by Rick Geary. It’s accurate, extremely well drawn and scripted.

The challenge was that I wasn’t writing about the murders, but about a time period nearly twenty years earlier. I had to really get to know the 1870s as Lizzie and her family would have known it.

You eventually progressed from short stories to novels?

Yes, the first five short stories, two of them novellas really, were published by PearTree Press in 2010 and it brought to the end the first stage of my effort. The second stage, now that I had established the characters, the setting, and had hit upon an appropriate tone, was to enlarge the fictional universe. The Minuscule Monk was a sixth short story that had grown in scope to a full-length novel. I had been reading a lot about the Kansas-Missouri border wars and it seemed as if an extended flashback to another time and place was appropriate. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote two Sherlock Holmes stories that had extended flashbacks to the old West and Pennsylvania mining towns. For half of those novels, Holmes doesn’t’ even show up. I liked the idea of having all that back story.

Why did you start Nine Muses Books?

The scope of the project had grown to the point where I needed to dedicate myself entirely to the Girl Detective. The e-book market has grown exponentially in the past few years and the traditional relationship between writers, readers and publishers has completely changed. Putting out all this material in such a short time period is an experiment, one that I hope will reach new readers and keep them amused. It also encourages me to work harder on new material.

After The Minuscule Monk, what can expect?

There’s more short stories coming. The next novel is called The Wilmarth Immovables and it has a lot to do with Shakespeare, patent medicine, and the origins of vaudeville.

The last question I have is the obvious one. Did Lizzie do it?

Well, that’s a question for the sixth novel! I do plan to cover that.

OK, fair enough. What about the real Lizzie Borden?

I have no idea. The more I studied the crime, the less obvious it seemed. Everyone has to make up their own minds.

The Forlorn Maggie now available as ebook mini-mystery

ForlornMaggieCoverThe Forlorn Maggie: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mystery has just been published by Nine Muses Books as part of their Lizzie-Mini series.  This series will make Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective stories available in e-book format, including two stories that did not appear in Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective (PearTree Press, 2010) and two brand new adventures previously unpublished.

The Forlorn Maggie is the second in the series and was published to Smashwords.com on January 18, 2015.  More stories will be published over the next few months.  Later in the year, Nine Muses will publish a full-length Lizzie novel The Minuscule Monk.  Check this site in months to come for more details.

When Fiona Conway, the Forlorn Maggie, seeks revenge against Fleet Footed Fleet, the savage mastermind of the B.M.C. Durfee Mutiny, Lizzie Borden must summon all of her courage and confront her own dark secret. Together with her pinchfisted father Andrew Borden, Lizzie explores Victorian New England’s dark side.

You can  buy The Forlorn Maggie for your e-book library at Smashwords.com.

New Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective series from Nine Muses Books

The Agitated Elocutionist: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-MysteryThe Agitated Elocutionist: A Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective Mini-Mystery has just been published by Nine Muses Books as part of their Lizzie-Mini series.  This series will make Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective stories available in e-book format, including two stories that did not appear in Lizzie Borden, Girl Detective (PearTree Press, 2010) and two brand new adventures previously unpublished.

The Agitated Elocutionist is the first in the series and was published to Smashwords.com on January 2, 2015.  More stories will be published over the next few months.  Later in the year, Nine Muses will publish a full-length Lizzie novel The Minuscule Monk.  Check this site in months to come for more details.

Join Lizzie as she matches wits with the Agitated Elocutionist in this wry tale of mystery set in a Victorian New England mill town. When Mrs. Arbuthnot, the Agitated Elocutionist of Fall River, reports the disappearance of her coveted Star of Swansea, Lizzie Borden the Girl Detective enters into a maze of secrets, lies and tongue twisters. Together with her loyal cousin Sarah Borden, Lizzie explores Fall River’s dark side.

You can download The Agitated Elocutionist for free to your e-book library at Smashwords.com.