Let’s start by saying hello. I’ve been writing all my life. My first endeavors were in a little pink diary with a lock. My one brother discovered it, reported the contents to my mother, and got me grounded for two weeks. My pleas that he should be punished for breaking and entering were largely ignored. However, he did have to buy me a new diary. For a while, my diary became bland observations until we moved to a different home with a better hiding place. Once again, I could pour out my dramatic little-girl soul. Fast forward all these years and I still am keeping a six-line journal of the events of the day—nothing too incriminating, I learned that lesson well. Now I find writing stories far, far more interesting and fun.
The kernel of the idea for MRS. BLACK started when I read how a Detroit pharmaceutical company was importing so many coca leaves that it was causing a shortage of supplies in the early 1900s. I don’t have that article anymore, so I can’t say the exact details, but it led me to read about drug manufacturers at the turn of the century. Then reading about Detroit at the turn of the century, which is an under-represented, but fascinating time in Detroit’s history. As you may know, the 1900s was the beginning of the auto age. Henry Ford is just starting, and he’s got loads of competition. Most of the roads in Detroit are a muddy mess, but that doesn’t stop the horseless carriage enthusiasts. And who cares if stop lights hadn’t been invented?
Then you have taverns at pretty much every street corner. The ratio of men to women is seven to one. Detroit was considered the Paris of the United States because of its beautiful trees. Large, magnificent oaks. Alcohol was flowing as fast as the Detroit River. A lot of breweries existed. Some of these labels are making a comeback right now. Good old Canadian whiskey was just across the river. No wonder prohibition came earlier to Michigan than the rest of the country.
Research is the best part of writing historical fiction. The downside is you have leftover info that doesn’t make it in the story. So that’s what this blog will be about. There’s plenty to share about Detroit, the forgotten history of patent medicines, and other fascinating Michigan tid-bits.
Check out the FAQ page about patent medicines. Next post will be about the trendy morphine kit society ladies carried to hide their morphine addiction.
Thanks for reading!