A Night Out

I haven’t participated in Wednesday WIPpet for awhile, but I’ve had a good reason. It seemed unfair to post previews of a sequel to a novel that wasn’t available yet. But that is about to change. I’m thrilled to announce that Evensong, book one of the Meratis Trilogy, will be released Monday, February 10th [insert caveat about unexpected delays here].  Be sure to check in tomorrow for the COVER REVEAL (!!!!) and next Wednesday for an Evensong excerpt.

But I’ll admit that’s not my only reason for the recent lack of posts. Fact is, I’ve found a new love. That’s right. After so many years of just me and my writing, I’ve developed a relationship that gets me out of the house on weekends and fills the social void that writing cannot fill.

The name of this new relationship? Burlesque.

Before you get too excited, I’ve fallen in love with cheering from my seat in the audience. I’m quite happy to leave the actual performing to the far more confident and not coordinationly challenged people on stage.

My introduction to this little underground community (not having previously known such a thing existed in my conservative little city) happened in December, thanks to my friend (and now a burlesque performer herself) bumping into an old friend who had met this guy….

I was hooked by the first show, drawn to the energy of the glamour, the girls, the glitter (although I think the latter is more drawn to me than I to it). The shows range from traditional, to kinky, to geeky depending on the troupe, the theme and the crowd, and then there’s the vaudeville that continues alongside it.

The audiences are amazing, so positive and supportive, but the performers blow me away. These are people who come off as being really comfortable with themselves and confident with what they have to offer. As a self-pubbing author, how can I turn away from that? I’ve met some amazing people, made some new friends… and started a new project. Oh yes.

The first night got the wheels in my brain turning.
The second time I went, the idea landed.

How could it not? The smokehouse was full, each table full of people in flapper dresses, elbow-length gloves, and bow-ties (20s night, as it happened).  I was sitting at the bar and behind me stood the very handsome emcee: three piece grey suit, fedora, tie, moustache, tumbler in hand. Across the room the head of the troupe came on stage–blonde and beautiful, all white feather fans and sequins. As the jazz music started to play, I was transported back in time.

I’m sure many of you creative types will know what happened next, because no author can sit there and appreciate an environment for what it is. No, she has to change it into something new:  add a backstory, add what comes next.

And so started my burlesque murder mystery.

Since then I’ve had so much fun with the research, not only going to as many shows as I can manage, but also reading up on the “Golden Age” of burlesque in the 20s & 30s.

So, this week, as it is Wednesday, I’d like to offer some new for my WIPpet.  As it’s January 29th, I’ll … ignore the date and just share my intro because I want to.  Without further delay, I present the introduction to As Yet Untitled Burlesque-Themed Murder Mystery 

***

“It’s nice of you to invite me here,” I said as I eased into the creaking wooden chair. I set my blue sequined handbag on the table and peeled off the black satin gloves, folding them and placing them on top. “Do you mind if I smoke?”

The man across the table, Pete Phipps according to the card I studied all week, shook his dark head, the hair not moving at all under the weight of the gel. He fiddled with the tape recorder between us and slid the microphone closer to me.

“Thanks.” I slid the cigarette holder out of my bag while he pulled a lighter from his pocket. With a deep inhale, I released the breath slowly, watching the smoke curl up towards the ceiling. “I only smoke when I’m nervous, you know? Never talked to a reporter before.”

Phipps sat down, flipped open a notebook and wet a pencil on his tongue. “Nothing to worry about, I promise.” He winked. “I don’t bite.”

I thought his efforts were cute, but after so many years of exposure I’d become immune to charm. I twisted the cigarette holder between my fingers, staring at the little glowing light at the end. “Even so. In my line of work, in this day and age, we do our best to keep our heads down.” I lowered my gaze to meet his. “Tits out, of course, but head down. Nothing but stage names and flashy costumes to keep the attention off our real lives.”

“Ah.” Phipps cleared his throat, his face flushing red as he tried to reach for the microphone.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, leaning forward and doing my best to keep the smile off my face at his symptoms of discomfort. “I can’t say tits? Then, honey, you’re talking to the wrong person about the wrong subject, because my story is filled with all the tit and tat a man could want. In fact, he begs for more. Without fail.” I crossed my legs and leaned back in my chair, one elbow on the table. Another drag on the smoke, and an exhale out the side of my mouth. “That was the whole point of burlesque by the time I got into the game.”

“How about we start with some easy questions,” he said, trying to regain control over the conversation that I had so easily taken away. “What’s your name?”

“As far as any of your readers are concerned, I was born, raised, and will die Russia Blue, burlesque headliner, and Queen of The Sequined Feather. But you didn’t ask me here to talk about the club, did you?” I caught his gaze and smirked when I recognized the heated curiosity. “No, I can tell by the lust in your eyes you don’t care jack about The Feather. You want to know about the murder. That bloody mess I walked in on so many years ago. Well all right, honey, you asked for it. I always aim to give a man what he wants.”

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20 comments

  1. Dayum! That’s a tantalizing little tidbit you have thrown us. Wow. I love it already. You’ve certainly given us a good glimpse at two characters in a relatively short space of time.

    BTW, have I mentioned how much I like the new logo? Fantastic. 🙂

  2. You may just convert me to a mystery reader. I’ve seen burlesque, and I envy the confidence those women exude. Wish I had some of that! I love the intro to this story, and this woman is someone I want to know more of. 🙂

    1. This will be my first stab at writing a mystery since I was in elementary school and wrote plays lol — hope I can get away with it!

      I hear ya re: the confidence. These women blow. me. away!!! Thank you for stopping by to read!

  3. Well, I’m hooked! A burlesque murder mystery sounds fabulous and this intro really captures the feel of a time gone by. I imagine Russia Blue is going to be a fun character to write.

  4. Hmm, not the definition I knew of burlesque… I mean, I knew stripstease was often a part of many burlesque shows, but that the main element was actually the comedic view … at least until the 1920s-30s. Then the cooch became more of the show and vaudeville became the main showcase of the other talents.

    Either way… LOVE IT! The extreme need for careful presentation, poise, and even character these performers need to have is huge–makes them so much fun to write. If there were shows locally, yeah, I’d be spending some Saturdays there too. Hmm, now I need to look into that… there MUST be some.

    Please keep us appraised of Russia Blue and the murder, Krista.

    1. Thanks Eden! This story is actually set in 1938 – 1940 or so, so after it was run out of the maon clubs in NY and started being more underground, but before it went to stripping only. By about 1935 the headliners were the “peelers” and the comedians more an intro act. Really fascinating development!

      More than likely there are lots of troupes nearby, all with the sneaky 😉 Good luck finding them! Thanks for the read and for sure I’ll post more soon 🙂

      1. You were right. We went on a search and found at least four troupes locally. And even a few recorded on Youtube shows… Thanks for the inspiration, Krista. My hubby and I had a great evening just looking things up.

  5. Fun read! I was bit confused when the microphone suddenly showed up, since I thought they were sitting down to dinner, but this is out of context, after all. My idea of burlesque is a bit different too, but the excerpt is great, exuding attitude. 🙂

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