The first four novels in The Conn-Mann Chronicles have excerpts from a Garrett Goldthwaite dime novel at the beginning of each chapter. This conceit was something that popped into my head while I was writing The Marvelous Mechanical Man and kind of snowballed.
The idea was that Jo was an avid reader of Goldthwaite’s dime novels, and patterned many of her responses to events as “What would the heroine of Garrett Goldthwaite’s latest novel do?” Theoretically, the story in the dime novel paralleled the story in the book itself. Sometimes this worked better than others.
The books and their dime novels are:
The Marvelous Mechanical Man and Calico Kate and the River of Gold
The Nearly Notorious Nun and Analytical Amy and the Case of the Covetous Cad
The Incredibly Irritating Irishman and Old-Fashioned Opal and the House of Ill-Repute
The Fiercely Formidable Fugitive and Nurse Nell and the Baron of Five Points
It was a lot of fun to do, and was a real mental exercise…but apparently a lot of people just skipped them, so–when I couldn’t get the dime novel to behave for Book Five any way–I decided that fledgling novelist Jo Mann no longer needed to rely on someone else’s writing, so the dime novel is dropped, at least for a while.
This actually makes sense in the progression of the series too, as the first four volumes are all set in New York City in 1874 and form a natural story arc in the development of the characters. Book Five is set in the beginning of 1875 in Ireland, and turns a page in Jo and Alistair’s relationship as well as introducing a new supporting cast.
That doesn’t mean that Goldthwaite is silenced forever. In fact, there’s a stand-alone Garret Goldthwaite novelette called Practical Polly and the Village of Doom! available for purchase or free on Kindle Unlimited
And the biggest compliment I ever got was when a beta-reader asked if I was sure I had permission to use quotes from his work, because she couldn’t find any reference to him on the internet. 😉
Leave a comment if you would like a “Signed” copy of Practical Polly (aka a pdf version)