Today I’m delighted to feature Canadian mystery writer Amy Tector. Amy’s debut novel, The Honeybee Emeralds is a lighthearted mystery featuring four women in Paris who unravel the history of a fabulous diamond and emerald necklace once owned by Mata Hari and Josephine Baker. The Foulest Things (due Sept 22) is a prequel to her Dominion Archives Mystery series. It follows the adventures of trainee archivist, Jess Novak, as she struggles to untangle a 100-year old mystery to solve a murder.
Amy holds a PhD in English literature from the Université Libre de Bruxelles and has worked at Canada’s national archives, Library and Archives Canada, for twenty years.
She lives in Ottawa with her husband, daughter and dog.
Over to Amy:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
Stan Rogers is a Canadian folk singer with a bald head and a very deep baritone. I spent my early twenties mildly obsessed with him and his romantic songs about the travails of fisherman, farmers and lost sailors. The recent revival of the sea shanty has made me revisit my love of Stan and his music – Steven Colbert even sang one of his tunes on air with Michael Buble.
My daughter is 12 and aside from giving me great joy for her general fabulousness, I owe her a debt of gratitude for introducing me to Taylor Swift, a singer I had basically ignored until my tween got me into her two pandemic albums – Folklore and Evermore.
Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles is my go-to song of hope.
My father loved Handel’s Messiah and would drag us to a concert every Christmas. The Hallelujah Chorus raises the hair on the back of my neck, every time.
I Will Survive, yes it’s got a great message of resilience, but mostly I love that disco beat. I was born in the disco era and I think it’s fused into my DNA. Just like Alicia Bridges, “I got to boogie.”
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Books – so obvious, but so true. I’ve been an avid reader from an early age and stories are what formed me (well, that and disco…)
Skorts – I wrote a whole essay about my love of this particular piece of clothing for my newsletter – basically they are a wonderful summer basic that allows you all the freedom of shorts with the sass and panache of a skirt.
A bottle or a vase to pop a couple of flowers into. I love having fresh flowers around – in the summer it’s mostly things from my garden or even wildflowers. Two daisies with a bit of fern makes a gorgeous little room and mood brightener.
Hate to say it, but my laptop. I do all my writing on that, as well as my all-important Internet-surfing. How could I keep up with Kardashians without it?
Earplugs. I can’t sleep without them.
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
No one is paying attention to you, so relax
Don’t try to do anything perfectly. There is great power and great freedom in the half-assed
Don’t get a dog until you’re sure you’ll be home enough for it. Caring for another being’s happiness is a bigger responsibility than you realise
Don’t worry about your weight. Beauty standards really are a patriarchal plot to keep women down. Just wear what you makes you feel good and you’ll look amazing.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself, who make you laugh and who you can make laugh.
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I am very good at walking on stilts
I speak fluent French, but with a Quebec accent that is mocked when I’m in Europe
Though I present as an extrovert, I need a lot of alone time
I am an archivist, and I write novels with historical elements, but doing research is my least favourite part of writing.
I keep my hair short because, despite countless Youtube tutorials on the “curly girl method” I have never been able to keep the frizz at bay.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
I’d like to continue writing and build a career as an author for myself
I’d like to raise my daughter to be a strong, confident and kind woman
I’d like to reduce the plastic waste our house produces
I’d like to see The Honeybee Emeralds turned into a Netflix show – Stephanie Beard, the wonderful editor who acquired it said it reminded her of a cross between Search Party and “Emily in Paris – but good.”
I’d like to contribute more to my local community.
Many thanks for joining me today Amy, it’s been lovely discovering more about you. As a history graduate who became a librarian, being an archivist was on my radar but it never happened. I chose to study and specialise in Local History instead which helped feed my passions. Great music choices Amy, I’m a latecomer to Taylor Swift too, as I’m more of the Beatles generation. I was fortunate to attend a concert of Handel’s Messiah in the Royal Albert Hall, London, which ticked two achievement boxes for me. Welcome to the ‘booklovers’ club, you are among friends here! Love your advice, laughter is a great key to someone’s personality. I can safely say you’re the first stilt walker I’ve hosted, that’s a great party trick – do you own your own stilts? Here’s hoping that you get that Netflix deal, but in the meantime, hope all goes well for your books.
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The Honeybee Emeralds
Alice Ahmadi has never been certain of where she belongs. When she discovers a famed emerald necklace while interning at a struggling Parisian magazine, she is plunged into a glittering world of diamonds and emeralds, courtesans and spies, and the long-buried secrets surrounding the necklace and its glamorous former owners.
When Alice realizes the mysterious Honeybee Emeralds could be her chance to save the magazine, she recruits her friends Lily and Daphne to form the “Fellowship of the Necklace.” Together, they set out to uncover the romantic history of the gems. Through diaries, letters, and investigations through the winding streets and iconic historic landmarks of Paris, the trio begins to unravel more than just the secrets of the necklace’s obsolete past. Along the way, Lily and Daphne’s relationships are challenged, tempered, and changed. Lily faces her long-standing attraction to a friend, who has achieved the writing success that eluded her. Daphne confronts her failing relationship with her husband, while also facing simmering problems in her friendship with Lily. And, at last, Alice finds her place in the world―although one mystery still remains: how did the Honeybee Emeralds go from the neck of American singer Josephine Baker during the Roaring Twenties to the basement of a Parisian magazine?
The Foulest Things (due Sept 2022)
Ottawa, January 2010. Canada’s historic Dominion Archives.
Junior archivist Jess Kendall is struggling to find her footing in her new role. Her colleagues undermine her, her boss hates her, and her only romantic prospect hides a whiskey bottle in his desk. Desperate to make a good impression, Jess’s luck begins to change when she discovers a series of mysterious letters chronicling life in Paris at the start of the Great War. Thinking she has landed her ticket to career advancement, Jess dives into research in Dominion’s art vault, where she stumbles upon the body of one of her colleagues.
As if finding a corpse isn’t frightening enough, Jess soon notices she is being stalked by a menacing figure. It’s only when Jess makes the connection between the letters, the murder, and a priceless Rembrandt that she realizes just how high the stakes are. Can Jess salvage her career, unravel a World War I–era mystery, shake off her ominous stalker, solve a murder, and—oh yeah—save her own life before it’s too late?