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January 20, 2014


Elizabeth Zelvin

Hank, it never even occurred to me to think of weaving in the historical characters as stressful. Luckily, I was writing about people of whom very little is known, so I could make up their personalities to suit myself and my story. But some of the most amazing details in the book are things that really happened. And you know how we mystery writers get even with people by killing them in our books? There's one guy I absolutely hate for something he did, even though he's been dead 500 years. I didn't kill him, but I got even. (Read the book, and I bet you'll spot him.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Hmm...I just thought about all the people who are experts in this time period, and how certain you have to be that you are correct! But I guess that's the fun part. (If you are brave!)


"chosen by our protagonists" - exactly! Thanks for putting that into words, Liz. I'll refer people to you when they look at me as if I'm kidding.

Elizabeth Zelvin

Catriona, when I started getting to know other mystery writers, one of the greatest pleasures were learning that we all have characters who talk in our heads and do things without asking our permission and that we all love to talk about clever ways of killing people, preferably in public and, even better, over dinner. Hank, in this particular period, I found there is very little primary source material, and my two major sources among modern historians disagreed about practically everything. So I did what they did--and what Columbus himself did: I believed what I wanted to and discounted the rest.

Elizabeth Zelvin

Oops. Make that "one of the greatest pleasures WAS..."

Elizabeth Zelvin

Hmm. Looks like I just corrected a post that then vanished. To Catriona, I said that one of the greatest pleasures when I got to know other mystery writers was finding we all have characters who talk in our heads and do things without asking our permission, and we all love to talk in public about clever ways to kill people, preferably over dinner. And to Hank, I said that there are very few primary sources in my period, and the two major modern historians I used disagreed about practically everything, so like them, and like Columbus himself, I believed what I wanted to and discounted the rest. ;)

Elaine Viets

Welcome, Liz. I like your phrase about the comforting explanation that the native Americans died of European diseases. TD Allman's "Finding Florida" gives an unsentimental -- and scary -- view of what happened.

Elizabeth Zelvin

Thanks, Elaine. The deeper I delved, the more of an eye opener the true story was.

Elizabeth Zelvin

Thanks for having me on the blog, Hank et toutes les femmes fatales! :)


Liz, great to have you here. I've very excited about VOYAGE OF STRANGERS. It seems I'm buying more and more historicals lately, and now that I see your comments about the Taino and cyanide, I realize why. I like to see the stupidity of kings/governments/armies exposed. :) Stories like this are so important, especially right now. If we humans ever achieve world peace and happiness, it will be thanks to writers who take on the hard subjects. You go, girlfriend! :)

Hank Phillippi Ryan

Well said, Mary!

And thanks Liz-- you are an inspiration! (and Femmes? She sings, too!)

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