Monday, October 20, 2014

Murder Mystery Update: The Story Comes to Life

The history-mystery fund-raiser plan is percolating along! (For those who are following this event as it unfolds, the previous update is here.)

To recap, I've been writing a history-themed murder mystery to be performed at a fund-raiser on behalf of a local history museum. Last time I explained a little of how the story and characters were developed. Since then I've gotten some questions about the process, so here's a little Q and A.

Is the story based on an actual murder that really took place?

No. The crime is entirely fictional, some of the characters are purely fictional, and even the "real-person" characters do fictional things.It is above all a fun story meant to entertain, but we hope that some nuggets history will be learned along the way.

For example, the owners of a ladies' millinery shop play a role in the story. There really was a millinery shop on Sandpoint's Cedar Street in 1920, and the sisters who owned it really existed. But beyond that, we don't have many facts to go on: what their personalities were like, how they spoke, and so on. I ended up loosely basing those characters on dress-shop owners Ruby and Pearl Pratt in the delightful BBC series Lark Rise to Candleford.

Pearl and Ruby Pratt own the dress shop in Candleford

As with any good historical fiction, we've woven threads of make-believe onto an historical framework. Guests will learn about Prohibition, the local economy, political concerns of the day, fashions, music, and goings-on around town.

Will the guests be involved in the story, too?

Yes. As each guest sends an RSVP to the fund-raiser, he or she is assigned a real character from local history to portray, to the extent he or she is comfortable doing so, along some backstory and suggestions for costume and lingo. We'll have everyone from grocers to bankers to ranchers to loggers to schoolteachers, all partying like it's 1920.

How did you do your research?

Mostly from combing the local newspapers of 1920 and oral histories left by people who lived in the area. As the event is a fund-raiser for a history museum, making use of the museum's resources to do the research seemed appropriate.

Who did the crime?

I'm not telling.

Check back to find out more about "A Little Party Never Killed Anybody." And as always, feel free to ask questions in the comments.


Jennifer Rova said...

Sounds like a like it will be super fun. What a great idea for a historical museum fund raiser. Now is it "an" or "a" before historical? I always say "a" but I have heard both.

Jennifer Lamont Leo said...

"A" is technically correct per CMS but I prefer "an." A stubborn regionalism, maybe.