Behind the story of The Silver Gun
L.A. Chandlar is the author of the 1930s New York City Art Deco Mystery series. Her latest book in the series is The Silver Gun. Let’s learn more about the story behind this tale set in 1936 New York City, in the midst of the Great Depression.
“One of the things I love to address in real life and in fiction, is the ability to find or create beauty out of adversity,” Chandlar said. “In fact, in book 2, that is a main theme! Shhh… No one knows this yet. But in Latin, pulchritudo ex cinere is a saying that Lane, my protagonist, discovers was important to her father. I believe that is a main theme in the Thirties. Beauty out of adversity. I used to pigeon hole the Thirties into solely an era about the Depression. But oh, it was so much more than that. The music, the art, women gaining prominence in the work force, civil rights, architecture… It was stunning. And I think more so because the two decades of art deco, the Twenties and the Thirties, were bookended by two world wars with the Great Depression in the middle. And yet. Such immense beauty, humor, and of course the cocktails!”
A move to New York started it all
The idea for The Silver Gun actually came about after Chandlar’s family moved to New York City. Their move occured just two weeks after 9/11. “We saw firsthand how a city responds to great adversity. I happened to pick up a biography that compared Rudy Giuliani and Fiorello LaGuardia. Two mayors who came into office for NYC when the city was corrupt, broken, and dirty. They both -faults and all- brought life and safety to the city. They also brought art and life. I thought that Fiorello would be an amazing character in a historical fiction novel. He’s so funny! And I wanted to show people the unsung aspects of the Thirties. I think it has a lot to say for us today.”
Chandlar describes The Silver Gun as a fun adventure with deep layers. She said, “It’s not just a detective book, it’s about a great mystery where people learn to soak up life. There are layers behind every story. In every book, to highlight the importance of art in that era and our own, there is a piece of art that comes alongside a character and helps them navigate the mystery.”
In book one, Chandlar incorporated an artist who later became famous, and her protagonist finds a journal about the artist. In book two, she included a famous and haunting classic novel (that everyone knows but no one has read). “In book 3 I have a special treat,” Chandlar said. “Orson Welles (War of the Worlds) in 1936 creates the first all-black theater cast and does a version of MacBeth set in Haiti instead of Scotland. This is Voodoo MacBeth and oh wow, is it amazing! This comes into Finn’s life (Lane’s love interest) and it mirrors some of his own choices and characteristics of his life. It’s all just delicious and a lot of fun to think about and discuss. In fact, always read my author notes and discussion questions! I have fun treasures in those – and many times you’ll find, that the most spectacular or unbelievable things in the story were taken from real life.”
Chandlar is hopeful readers will find the book has helped them increase their own enjoyment of life. She said, “It was hard finding the ability to write the book when life was so complicated. But once I figured it out, it was SO FUN. It brought me a lot of life.”
I once was so sick of my slip falling down (the elastic was worn out), that right on the sidewalk in New York I’d had it! I slunk it down and kicked it off. Then I got a passing guy to take my picture as I dumped the stupid, offending article into the trash. Lane basically does this in book 3. So funny! For research, the best thing I’ve done is go to some of the speakeasies here in NYC. One of them required you to dress up in vintage clothes to enter. Honestly, it was like walking back in time. There was a live band, a bar that served drinks in Prohibition-style coffee mugs, fedoras and flappers everywhere… It was like Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris. I started to tear up as I fully expected my characters to walk around the corner.