Women's Journal

Author Mary Ann Trail Opens Up About her Bestselling Book ‘Their Chilling Fall: A Historical Mystery of 1804’

Mary Ann Trail on Their Chilling Fall A Historical Mystery
Photo Courtesy: Mary Ann Trail

By: Michael Beas – Atlas Elite Publishing

At the heart of Mary Ann Trail’s enthralling historical novel, ‘Their Chilling Fall: A Historical Mystery of 1804,’ lies a gripping thriller woven from the magic of history and the depths of imagination. Drawing upon her expertise in history and her extensive experience as a professional librarian, Trail masterfully crafts a narrative that transports readers to the early 1800s, a time that evokes the intricate politics and intrigues of our present day.

As the story unfolds, we meet Georgina Chadwick, a newly married woman, and her husband, Jeffrey Chadwick. Their hopes for a fresh start are shattered when their boat sinks off the coast of Nova Scotia, leaving them stranded and embroiled in a murder mystery they must confront and solve, whether prepared or not.

Trail’s captivating storytelling skills and rich historical detail lay the foundation for a tale fraught with suspense, passion, and the indomitable spirit of perseverance. We are thrilled that she took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her inspiration, her process, and everything in between.

What inspired you to write ‘Their Chilling Fall’? Did any historical figures or events help fuel your inspiration?

I had finished the last book of the Enemies Series, Masking Enemies and was beginning to plan my next book. I already teased that the characters from Facing Enemies would be moving to Boston, but I didn’t know how or why they would do so.  

In Fall 2019, my husband and I took a trip to Cape Breton for the Celtic Music Festival. During our time there, we visited the Highland Village, a living history museum. The village included a small one-room building from the early 1800s that just fascinated me. It even had a real box bed. Before I left Nova Scotia, I was hooked: my characters would make a side trip to Cape Breton.

What is it about the early 19th century that you find so fascinating, so much so the stories you craft are woven into that timeline?

My choice of that period started with what I didn’t want to do: compete with the flood of Regency novels. 

Then my research showed that the early 19th century has a lot of the same turmoil as our own time: conservative political parties, corruption, war, protests, even the development of an effective spying agency. I found so many topics that allowed me to investigate the lives of the middle class, not the aristocracy or the ‘Ton’ as so many Regency novels concentrate on. 

The only titles in my books are military titles, and my main characters have to work for a living.

What was one of the challenges you encountered while writing ‘Their Chilling Fall,’ and conversely, what is one of your successes?

I didn’t want to write in a time period I feel is overdone, like Regency books. However, with Their Chilling Fall, I unexpectedly found little primary or even secondary sources describing living conditions in Cape Breton. For example, I like to work from maps to give historical accuracy. London has a plethora of maps. I only found one for Sydney, Cape Breton, that turned out to be a plan for the city, not an accurate map. 

One of my successes was the two orphan girls the Chadwick’s add to their household. They have proved surprisingly popular. I have to admit a selfish reason for adding them to the book. I wanted to make a real connection with my own granddaughters so I decided to interview them. We ended up having a lot of fun discussing their characters which I develop further in the next book Their Winter Burn. No, they were not getting their own horses, but they did get a puppy.

When readers finish the last page of this novel, what do you hope they take away with them?

One of the main purposes of my writing efforts is to try to entertain readers while giving them a taste of the lives of our ancestors. I developed my own interest in history by reading novels, and I would love to spark others the same way.

I’m sure your fans are dying to know – do you have another book in the works?

I recently received a small grant from a local historical society to set my next novel in their township. I am about halfway through Paddy’s adventure trying to find the missing wine shipment (end of Their Winter Burn) and expect it to be finished in June.

You have written five books. What is your favorite way to celebrate when you finish a new book?

Two of the last books were written during quarantine. The best I could do at that time was invite four lady friends and readers over to sit outside by our fire pit and drink hot chocolate. 

Currently, I keep a bottle of prosecco on the wine rack. 

Interested readers can grab a copy of Mary Ann Trail’s book from Amazon: Their Chilling Fall: A Historical Mystery of 1804.

Published by: Martin De Juan

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