It’s our pleasure to introduce you to Greer Macallister’s latest novel, Girl in Disguise. Macallister’s novel releases on March 21st of this year. We also get to congratulate Greer on her new book’s starred review from Publishers Weekly, being awarded April 2017 Indie Next Great Reads Pick, and a Best Book Club Pick for March at Bookish. What a fantastic beginning as release day approaches! Greer, thank you for joining us today to answer a few questions.
“Loaded with suspense and action, this is a well-told, superb story.” -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?
GIRL IN DISGUISE was inspired by the real-life Kate Warne, first female Pinkerton detective. She was hired by Allan Pinkerton himself in 1856 to fight crime and solve cases in Chicago. Within a handful of years, she was so successful that he established a Bureau of Female Detectives and put her in charge of it. She helped save Abraham Lincoln’s life en route to his inauguration, and she worked undercover as a spy for the Union. She was amazing – and if you asked 10 people on the street who Kate Warne was, you’d be lucky to find one who knows.
Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
Part of my goal in writing the book was to educate, but I also just wanted to write a really exciting, fast-paced story that readers would enjoy. So I hope I succeeded. And the excitement is inherent to Kate. The time she lived in, the things she did – the stakes were life and death, with the future of the country in the balance.
Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?
Initially, Kate’s biggest challenge is that she’s a widow with no money and no prospects. She makes this outrageous decision to apply for a job as a Pinkerton detective, and after she fights her way in, she has to fight every day to prove herself in a hostile environment where women aren’t respected. She’s not just fighting the criminals, but her colleagues. Everything around her is hostile, and she has to find a way forward, no matter what.
Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?
In my first book, The Magician’s Lie, a few famous historical figures passed through the story, but this was my first time really writing something focused on a real-life woman from history. I struggled with how closely to stick to exactly what we know the real Kate Warne did and how much to bend the truth to make the story flow uninterrupted. It turns out that much of Kate’s life is completely unknown, but I kept coming back over and over again to how those real-life events and people appear in the book, making sure I balanced story and history.
Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?
My first book was very well-received and I was terrified what would happen on the second one. You hear this from a lot of authors, I think. The first one took five years to get right, and I didn’t want to take another five years on this one. It took me about six months to get the first 20 pages right, but once I had those, the whole thing flowed. It gave me hope for the third book and fourth book and all the books I have yet to write. Hopefully there will be many.