In this interview with Susan Elia MacNeal, the author of The New York Times and USA Today-bestselling Maggie Hope mystery series discusses research, travel, and the Maggie Hope series. The latest book in the series, which was released on October 27, is “Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante.” MacNeal’s first book in the series, Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, was nominated for an Edgar and won the 2013 Barry Award for Best Paperback Original.
For previous books in the series, MacNeal visited the war rooms in London and felt connected to the 40s time period. When asked if she said she’d felt similarly connected to other historic locations during her research trips, she said, “Oh, absolutely. As Maggie has progressed as an SOE agent, I’ve been able to visit a lot of the training sites, including some in Arisaig, Scotland, and in Beaulieu, England. And then the main offices of the SOE were on Baker Street in London.”
One of the benefits of writing about history is that writers often come across interesting and fun facts. One such fact MacNeal mentioned had to do with Britain’s Special Operations Executive staff in London. She said, “The SOE staff in London sometimes referred to themselves as ‘the Baker Street Irregulars,’ after Sherlock Holmes’s street children, who were really intelligence agents.”
MacNeal also said, “Treading those paths and walking those streets, I really do feel connected to the brave men and women of the SOE. I’m filled with respect and admiration for all the sacrifices they made to help win the war. I always say thank you and leave flowers on the memorials, as a way of showing gratitude.”
For “Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante,” MacNeal wanted to bring Maggie Hope back to the US, which is her true home. Once again, MacNeal visited the locations she would be writing about in the book. “I was able to go to Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia to research ‘Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidant,’ and tried to retrace the steps of the Prime Minister and his staff. I remember going to Christ Church in Alexandria and sitting exactly where the P.M. had for the 1942 New Year’s Day service—and realizing one of the columns blocked his view of the pulpit and he probably saw nothing of the service beyond a large white pillar!”
Learn the story behind “Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante” and what caused Susan Elia MacNeal to write the book on terryambrose.com, where you can also enter to win a copy. Susan Elia MacNeal can also be found on the web at SusanEliaMacNeal.com.