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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Guest Post and Giveaway with M.E. Kemp, author of Death of a Cape Cod Cavalier

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!

We will be joined today by M.E. Kemp.

About Ms. Kemp:

M. E. Kemp was born marilyn in Oxford, MA, where her ancestors settled in 1713 and where her family still resides. As a child Kemp wrote for family gatherings; in high school and college she wrote for the school newspapers, both fact and fiction. In high school she won first prize in a national Scholastics short story contest. She attended Worcestor State College in Massachusetts and received her MA English from Siena College in Loudonville, NY. Under her married name, Rothstein, she wrote nonfiction articles in many national and regional magazines, from Americana to Soccer America. She was commissioned to write a textbook for Cornell Cooperative Extension: What Every Citizen Should Know.

Kemp reverted to her maiden name for her first novel, Murder, Mather and Mayhem, (Xlibris) which introduced her two nosy Puritans as detectives. Hetty Henry is twice-widowed, wealthy, with connections to low and high society. Increase "Creasy" Cotton, named for his uncle Increase Mather, is a young minister with training to reveal the guilty secrets of the human soul. Creasy is the cousin of Cotton Mather, who often acts as comic relief.

Publishers Hilliard and Harris picked up her series with Death of a Dutch Uncle ('07) and Death of a Bawdy Belle (March '08.) Belle is set during the Salem witch trials.

Kemp's short story, "Murder in the Mill," was chosen by Sisters in Crime/NYC chapter for their Nov.'07 anthology of stories set in the Metro NYC area: Murder New York Style. Other shorts have appeared in NEWN and in DEADLY INK. Kemp has also written articles for Mystery Readers Journal, most recently in the historical mysteries '08 issue.

marilyn Kemp travels around the Northeast with her popular slide-talk based upon her research, "Naughty Puritans and Saintly Sinners." She has taught nonfiction writing courses for several local colleges and for many libraries. Kemp 4th book in the series, Death of a Dancing Master, is an outgrowth of her love of dance. (For ten years Kemp/Rothstein taught a program for those aged 50 plus called: Dancing Through Time. She has been privileged to work with dancers from the major dance companies.) She is married to Jack Rothstein and lives with Jack and two cats, Boris and Natasha, in Saratoga Springs, NY, where every summer she touts tip sheets to bettors.


Welcome to Darlene's Book Nook, Ms. Kemp!

Ms. Kemp has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her!

Why I Write About Naughty Puritans!

First of all, I decided to write about Puritans, naughty or otherwise, because I hold the firm belief that American history is just as bloody and colorful as medieval Britain, and you know how many series of mysteries there are set in medieval Britain. Oh, I like those mysteries and I don't think anyone has bettered Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael series, but our own history has just as much to offer.  I also wanted to smash the myths (that prevail today!) that our colonial ancestors were drab, dark-clothed stick figures with crabby attitudes about life. People in Boston wore as fine clothes as the upper classes in London and Paris.  They knew about these styles from the little clothing dolls brought home by sea captains from those ports.  The dolls were known as "fashion babies" and were passed from hand to hand for the latest styles. The most famous of Puritans, minister Cotton Mather, proudly wore a bright scarlet cape. In fact, scarlet was the favorite color. (Cotton Mather has been wrongly blamed for the Salem Witch Trials - he was only 26 at the time and was never on the jury. I wrote about the Salem trials in my book, Death of a Bawdy Belle.)  I wrote quite a bit about clothing in my book, Death of a Dutch Uncle. My detective, Hetty Henry, a wealthy young widow and successful business woman, dresses to the nines in this book while she flirts with several suitors including a young Scotsman and a hunky Mohawk Indian.  I wanted to get some of the Dutch customs of Colonial Albany in this book, including the differences in dress. Hetty's sidekick is a Puritan minister with a poor congregation, so he is rather shabbily dressed.  No scarlet cloak for him. He and Hetty make a formidable detecting team because she is a wealthy shipowner with many sources of information from high and low.  Increase "Creasy" Cotton, a poor relation of the Mathers, is trained in the ministry to detect the guilty secrets of the human soul.

As for being skinny, with all the food and drink these people enjoyed -- and they did enjoy both -- very few were thin. I've been told I write about food a lot in my books (Death of a Dancing Master). Well, I like food myself, and I think it's interesting to tell others about the way people dined in colonial times.  Ham, venison, veal and beef were all liable to be on the table at one time, never mind the pies and jellies and dessert courses, with all kinds of fish as a separate course.  Just imagine, lobsters were so plentiful they were regarded as a trash fish!!!  Now, that's my idea of trash-food!

Puritans were the ones to bring democracy in as a form of government.  Today's New England Town Meeting is the purest form of democracy and it comes from the early Puritans.  As for romance, one has only to read a few of the letters that the first Governor, John Winthrop, and his wife left behind in England, wrote to each other to discover real romance.  They agreed to stop whatever they were doing at a certain time in the evening every evening, and to think loving thoughts of each other. Even old Samuel Sewall, the diarist, well into his sixtieth year, romanced several widows for his next wife, giving them gifts of kid gloves, inspirational books and nuts!  They must have been lusty peoples, with the large families they had. (In my new book coming out in October, Death of a Cape Cod Cavalier, I wrote my first steamy sex scene.  My sex scenes tend to be funny -- you write what you know, as they say.)  Of course, childhood was a dangerous time for babies then, but if they survived babyhood they had a long life -- barring accidents, of course -- to look forward to. The only thing the Puritans were emphatic about was the church.  They came to this country, not for religious freedom for all, but to worship the purified church their way.  Charles II made them allow other religions in.  Still, they were pretty liberal in many other ways. And drink!  Don't forget that no one drank water at that time -- too dangerous!  The drink of the day was beer or hard cider. According to the tavern bills that have survived, any Puritan minister could drink our biggest souses under the table today. They could hold their liquor, too, for drunkards were punished.

You can tell I like Puritans.  My own ancestors arrived in Salem in 1696, so maybe that's a part of it. The more research I do the more I discover that the Saints were no Saints, but normal, healthy people with the Elizabethan lust for life and adventure.  John Winthrop spent his first 18 years under Queen Elizabeth's reign, so some of that hardy stuff rubbed off on his descendants. It took guts to settle in a New World, after all. We should have more of that daring today. At least I like to eat like them!  (One glass of wine and I'm out of it, so I don't take after them in that way.) I don't dress as well as they did, either.  In those days even the men wore lace,and extremely gorgeous lace at that.  Today's males look drab compared to the colonial men. Sometimes I wish elegance would return, but then I'd have to give up my jeans and my comfort....  I guess I'll just stick to writing about it, after all.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Ms. Kemp!

One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of Ms. Kemp's latest mystery, Death of a Cape Cod Cavalier. 

M.E. Kemp's fifth novel, Death of a Cape Cod Cavalier, is set on Cape Cod in the year 1695, when the body of a well-liked man is found floating in the Bay with a knife in his back. The action is set in today's Wellfleet, which was then called Billingsgate and was famous then as now for its oysters. Hetty Henry and Creasy Cotton are sent to discover the killer and one of Hetty's plans backfires, putting Creasy, herself and others in real danger.

To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.

This giveaway is open worldwide until 12:01 AM EST on June 16, 2012.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Naughty Puritans - there's an oxymoron in the making. Sounds delicious to me.


  2. Even though I love British history (the Tudors especially), I agree that Puritans have a lot to offer...but they don't have fancy gowns and gold jewelry.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

  3. I love this type of book -- Naughty Puritans piques my interest! Hope I win!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  4. Sounds like it'll be interesting read.
    Who knew they could be so Naughty?

  5. Wow, I loved reading the guest post about the Puritans. I'll admit my knowledge of them basically consists of learning about the Salem Witch Trials, reading The Scarlet Letter, and Thanksgiving. I'd love to read this book and learn more about them. Also, I just love a good mystery. Thanks for the chance to win!

  6. I do like stories set in colonial times but I didn't realize that the people of the time had such an interest in fashion.

  7. I always thought the Puritans were anything but pure, so this book is perfect!

    Dorothy - The Alaskan Bookie - Squeak
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  8. As an English woman I have studied a lot about Elizabethen and the Stuart period - one of my favourite times in history - so I would love to read this book


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