Happy Wednesday to you! I hope your week is overflowing with bookish delights.
I am delighted to welcome a wonderful author to the blog today,
the ever so lovely, Nancy Bilyeau
by Nancy Bilyeau
Publication Date: January 16, 2020
eBook & Paperback; 386 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in Americaâ€™s Playground.
But the invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of Americaâ€™s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer at the Moonrise Bookstore where she works voluntarily, than keeping up appearances with Brooklyn socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.
But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy more of the freedom she has been longing for. For one, she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.
Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anythingâ€¦even murder.s
It is up to Peggy to overcome the oppression of her family and clear the name of her vulnerable lover, before she or her beloved sister become the next victims of Dreamland.
Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeauâ€™s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.
Praise for Dreamland
‘Achingly believable’ – Publishers Weekly
“This fast-paced, engrossing novel from Bilyeau (â€œJoanna Staffordâ€ mysteries) gives readers an up-close and personal view of New Yorkâ€™s Gilded Age, from the flash and glamour of the decadently wealthy to the hardscrabble conditions of newly arrived immigrants.” – Library Journal
‘Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Dreamland is a rollicking ride.’ – Fiona Davis, bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
‘A marvelous book!’ – Ellen Marie Wiseman, bestselling author of What she Left Behind and The Life she was Given
‘Bilyeau’s thrilling novel plunges deep into Dreamlandâ€™s maze of pleasure and menace’ – Marlowe Benn, bestselling author of Relative Fortunes
‘Nancy Bilyeau’s passion for history infuses her books Alison Weir
1. What does the title mean?
It’s the literal name of an amusement park in Coney Island, opened in 1904. That’s where my main character finds herself in the early part of the book and meets one person who changes her life dramatically but she meets other important people there too. However, it has another meaning: some of the main characters are in a dream when it comes to functioning in the world.The dream can be a pleasant one, or a dangerous one.
2. Tell us a little about your story and the story world you’ve created.
It’s New York City, 1911, and rebellious young heiress Peggy Batternberg reluctantly accompanies her family for a holiday at the luxurious Oriental Hotel, on the Atlantic Ocean. But less than a mile away, Coney Island, “America’s Playground,” beckons with forbidden delight — and danger for Peggy and those she loves most.
3. Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
When I was researching Coney Island for a nonfiction story assignment I found a video clip on youtube that showed the hundreds of thousands of amusement-park electric lights twinkling at night, reflecting in the Atlantic Ocean. It was spine-tingling and magical and I thought I would like to set a novel there.
4. Are any of your characters based on real people you know?
The Batternberg family behavior was based in part on two wealthy families I have had the opportunity to observe. 😊 Several characters are closely based on real people but none I knew personally.
5. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
Stefan was challenging. I’m comfortable writing artists as characters—my father was a watercolor landscape artist. His Serbian background meant I needed to do extra research to get him right. I read a few books and watched documentaries. Rebecca West’s book ‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’ helped a lot. Also I worked on a website with a Macedonian woman, that gave me some insight. I went to a Serbian restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and she texted me what to order.
6. What did you learn while writing the book?
I learned how to create a special world set in another time and to write a main character who reacts to that world in a way that pulls in the reader.
7. Were you a young writer, a late bloomer, or something in between?
I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of 8. My third grade teacher announced that I described the trees and leaves well in an assignment following a field trip. I wrote poems and stories in school, and when I went to college I wrote for the newspaper—it was The Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan. After graduation, I was a journalist and then an editor at newspapers and magazines. But I didn’t start writing screenplays and novels until I was in my early 40s and I had a family. So I’m both a young writer AND a late bloomer.
8. Do you have a dedicated writing space? I wish! I write at the kitchen table, on the couch, sitting up in bed, at the public library, or in a corner of Starbucks.
9. Any type of writing ritual you have? When I’m in the most important creation stage, coming up with characters and plot points, I like to get up before dawn and write quickly, letting my subconscious take a lead role.
10. Do you write in silence or with Music? In the latter part of writing a novel, I use music a lot. I actually follow certain film composers because their creations for films usually are meant to tell an emotional story. Depending on the mood I’m writing, I turn to Bernard Herrmann(Hitchcock’s favorite), Trevor Jones or Wojciech Kilar. If you haven’t listened to Kilar’s score for the film “The Ninth Gate,” I urge you to do so. But also with ‘The Blue’ I listened to a lot of Beethoven. For ‘Dreamland,’ it was Camille Saint-Saens.
11. What is your favorite genre to read, and why? Historical Fiction was my first love and while I enjoy mysteries and women’s fiction and a bit of horror, stories set in the past are the most rewarding to me, the most fascinating.
12. Are you working on something new at the moment? Can you share any details? I’m interested in writing another book set in this same time, the end of the Gilded Age.
Have you been to America’s Playground? Coney Island?
I’ve always wanted to visit.
Dreamland has Coney Island as a backdrop, and it’s 1911.
This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own
Dreamland is a suspenseful historical fiction of obsession and desire.
This fascinating portrait of the end of the Gilded Age was a fabulous start to 2020. Set in New York 1911, the Battenberg family are one of the richest in America, with the Vanderbilts and Rockerfellas,
Peggy Battenberg is a young heiress who struggles against the bonds of societal restrictions placed on women of her class. Peggy, against her families wishes takes a job at the Moonrise Bookstore, and lives with her ex teacher. When her family intervenes, and she is told that she is required to take a summer vacation at the Oriental Hotel, a once-grand oceanfront resort on Coney Island. For the sake of her sister Lydia, who is engaged to the rich Henry Taul, Peggy succumbs to her family’s wishes.
Nancy Bilyeau’s writing catapults you into this vibrant outstanding thriller set in end of Gilded Age. Dreamland is a splendid, intoxicating book, with plenty of multi layered suspense.
Nancy Bilyeau delivers an extremely entertaining storyline, with captivating underlying tension. This gripping, perfectly paced and well-written read here that I absolutely loved how seamlessly and cleverly written this story was, and thought the author did a fabulous job with the delivery. I was totally invested all the way through to the satisfying end.
Dreamland and the rest of Coney Island is an intoxicating, hedonistic and full of life. Peggy gets to experience life from a completely different perspective than she has ever before. Mixing with artists, dancers, the inhabitants of Lilliput, along with food vendors. There is also a sinister side to this plot line, that adds an intriguing twist to the book that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Scandal and intrigue along with family drama makes for an extraordinary thought-provoking novel. A fabulous mystery/thriller that I was immediately drawn into and devoured quickly.
About the Author
“Dreamland” is Nancy Bilyeau’s fifth novel of historical suspense. She is the author of the best-selling historical thriller The Blue and the Tudor mystery series The Crown, The Chalice,and The Tapestry, on sale in nine countries.
Nancy is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada. She studied History and English Literature at the University of Michigan. After moving to New York City, she worked on the staffs of InStyle,Good Housekeeping, and Rolling Stone. She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributing writer to Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”
Nancy mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in Forest Hills in the borough of Queens. “Dreamland” is her first novel set in her adopted hometown of New York City.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, February 10
Review at Reading the Past
Thursday, February 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Saturday, February 15
Review at Reading is My Remedy
Sunday, February 16
Review at Historical Graffiti
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of Dreamland! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
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