INTERVIEW WITH ANN PARKER

 

A DYING NOTE by Ann Parker brings to life San Francisco during the late 1800s. As a co-owner of the Silver Queen Saloon the main character, Inez Stannert, had a stake in an upscale brothel. This sixth book of the series has a change of venue from Leadville Colorado to San Francisco California. Besides the change of setting there is a change of professions for Inez and her ward, Antonia Gizzi.

Inez is content to settle into her new life until the body of a musician washes ashore upon the banks of San Francisco’s Mission Creek Bay. She recognizes the victim, someone who came to her for piano lessons. As Inez begins her investigation, she is confronted by her shady past in the form of Leadville silver baron Harry Gallagher. He gives her one-week to discover the murderer, or he will expose her past associations and threatens to ruin hersocially/financially. Time grows short as Inez uncovers long-hidden secrets and unsettled scores that affect lives and reputations.

 

Elise Cooper: Why San Francisco?

Ann Parker: I live in the Bay area. This is a new setting for me because the past five books were placed in Leadville Colorado. Also, it was a hot bed for labor activity with the Waterfront and printer organizations. This allowed me to write in about a possible musicians’ labor union. I think at some level I was going to have her leave, as Inez says that Leadville was just a stop along the way and that she and her ward were supposed to go to San Francisco.

EC: During your research what did you find out?

AP: I was surprised at how little information there was about the subject of the world of the professional musician in San Francisco in the 1870s and 1880s. I was also surprised that professional musicians in San Francisco had yet to form a successful union, unlike their East Coast counterparts. The other thing I found intriguing was that women were running small businesses in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

EC: Do you like westerns?

AP: When I was a kid growing up in the sixties I watched on TV, “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Wagon Train,” and other westerns. As a teenager there were Clint Eastwood movies where the protagonist did not wear a black or white hat, but more of a grey one. Now there seems to be a resurgence, which makes it nice.

EC: Why did you decide to write westerns?

AP: I spoke with and learned from Women Writing The West. I decided to set something in the historical West with strong women protagonists. I came up with the setting of Colorado because I love the area so much.

EC: How would you describe Inez?

AP: She is a woman with a mysterious past, a complicated present, and an uncertain future. I based her name on my paternal grandmother’s maiden name. My family actually thought she would have got a kick out of it. What the fictional and real women had in common is a will of iron, strong women. They powered through from their difficulties. She was a woman of her times.

EC: In what way?

AP: Women who came to the West made a life for themselves. They tended to be pretty strong willed emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

EC: Was it harder or easier to solve a crime without forensics?

AP: It makes it easier. I am so glad I don’t have to deal with cellphones or blood splatter. The story uses old-fashioned detective work where they must read people, look for clues, and does not have any cutting edge science. I went back during that time frame and found what was available then, what could be done, and were there any forward thinking ideas on the horizon.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

AP: It will be a continuation of this book with Inez still in San Francisco and still running the music store. I also want to let readers know that Inez has not necessarily left Leadville Colorado forever. I do have plans for a future book in which she returns for at least a vacation.

THANK YOU!!