Guest Post/Virtual Tour with Giveaway ~ The Reporter’s Story by Joyce Strand


Mystery Exploits the Past

Setting a mystery in the past in a real city increases choices in story telling of real-life and fictional people, events, and crimes.

I took advantage of setting a book in the past in The Reporter’s Story, my second historical mystery based on a real person. I weave fiction and reality to create the most compelling mystery solved by a capable amateur sleuth.

First, my protagonist and sleuth, Emma Matheson, is a fictional character. However, she practices the goals, ethics and drive of Marjorie C. Driscoll, a real-life reporter who originally worked for publisher William Randolph Hearst and then moved in 1921 to the San Francisco Chronicle, a competitive newspaper to Mr. Hearst’s, and eventually to the Los Angeles Times where she became a well-known front-page contributor.

The likelihood that Emma could excel at a large-city newspaper stemmed from Driscoll’s recommendation that a new reporter should have served at a medium-sized town paper before moving on. My character, Emma, was trained by her father and reported at his newspaper in Sacramento before attending the University of California (Driscoll herself was a Stanford graduate) and then moving on to the fictional San Francisco Gazette.

However, the materials I uncovered by Driscoll did not broadly cover the atmosphere and trends of female reporters in the time period. To fill in my character, I needed to understand what kind of stories women covered at that time. I was fortunate to uncover the book Ladies of the Press: The Story of Women in Journalism by an Insider by Ishbel Ross, published in 1936. I learned that women reporters at this time were known mostly for their ability to write, not to report.  Also, the goal of women reporters in this time period was to report for the front page.

A trend-changing event for women reporters came in 1907 with what was considered outstanding coverage by women reporters of the Harry Thaw murder trial. Hence, my Emma Matheson covered a murder trial as part of her duties, along with actual stories published in the women’s section and a front-page wage earner’s beauty contest.

Next, Emma is a reporter at a fictional newspaper, the San Francisco Gazette. Despite the existence of at least three major newspapers in San Francisco in 1912, I chose to have my heroine work at a fictional one. However, I based the background of the Gazette largely on the San Francisco Call, a newspaper created in the mid-1800s and purchased by Hearst in 1913, whose archives are available on-line. I gleaned headlines and background stories from The Call, but I chose to use a fictional newspaper so that I could create story-bound characters and events at the newspaper.

Nonetheless, there are several real-life incidents wrapped around my characters that I pulled from the news of The Call in 1912. For example, the incident of the hydro-motorcycle crossing the San Francisco Bay actually happened much as I’ve described. The mayor did promote a new City Hall and the Pan American exhibition held in 1915. Cable cars were being displaced by the new electric streetcars, but were maintained to climb the steep hills that the streetcars couldn’t manage. The Six Companies organization did operate  (and still does) along with the infamous tongs. And the trattoria, Ernie’s, did serve Italian food and eventually became an upscale restaurant featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

I admit it. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about life in San Francisco in 1912 and what it was like for a female reporter at that time. My biggest problem came with what not to include, and if you were to read my first draft you would discover many more events (and 5,000 more words deleted by my editors!). In the end, it’s all about the mystery and how Emma solves it to become a front-page reporter.

But if you have any questions about the history, just ask me. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll happily find out!

post-divider leftreporterPublisher: McCloughan and Schmeltz (June 16, 2016)
Genre: Women's Fiction
ISBN-10: 0996145451
ISBN-13: 978-0996145459
Buy: Amazon, Kindle

A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques the instincts of reporter Emma Matheson. Why would a businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?

Additional info about Emma:  Emma Matheson is a young woman determined to be a star front-page reporter despite the bias against women in her day. Her mother died when she was born. She was reared by her father who runs a newspaper in Sacramento. She grew up learning about the newspaper business. Her father valued education and insisted she attend university before starting her career. She is bright, determined, a great writer — but a bit naive.

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1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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joyceJoyce Strand, much like her fictional character, Jillian Hillcrest, served as head of corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 25 years.  Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder.  Rather, she focused on publicizing her companies and their products.  Dr. Strand received her Ph.D. from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA


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  1. Hello Lisa,

    On behalf of Joyce Strand and Book Marketing Services, I would like to thank you for hosting Joyce today on Lori’s Reading Corner. She is excited to be here today. If any of your followers have any questions and/or comments they would like to share, please leave them in the comment box, Joyce will be by later in the day to respond.

    Joyce is having a giveaway during her tour. 1st prize: Kindle Fire HD 7 WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporter’s Story; 2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporter’s Story; 3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporter’s Story. Click here to enter:

    Please join Joyce tomorrow, Saturday, June 18th on Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More where she will be in the author spotlight.

    Check where Joyce is each day on her tour by clicking here:

    Best regards, Della         

  2. Thank you for hosting me and giving me the opportunity to meet your readers. I really enjoyed creating THE REPORTER'S STORY, largely because of my interest in researching what was happening in 1912 San Francisco. I hope readers will find the mystery intertwined with the real events of the period compelling. Again, I appreciate this opportunity.

  3. Della Williamson says:

    Always loved period pieces like this.  Especially of that era.  Would really like to read The Reporter's Story.   Would like very much to see what Emma finds out.  Looks really interesting.  It's on my TBR.  But I am hoping to read it sooner.  Rather than later.  A new author/book is always so exciting.  Thank you, Lori for the heads-up on so many great writer's and their works. 

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