In this virtual author chat, retired military general and writer Mary K Eder shared details about her latest book, The Girls Who Fought Crime, in conversation with John Charles from The Poisoned Pen.
The novel shines a long-overdue spotlight on the remarkable women who made significant contributions to law enforcement during World War II.
Eder’s writing journey took a remarkable turn as she transitioned from her military career to crafting compelling crime fiction. “I’ve always been a writer, whether writing press releases or feature stories,” she reveals. The book emerged from her fascination with the unsung heroines of history, like the valiant members of the Masher Squad, who patrolled the streets and subways to protect women from harassment, inspired and led by Mary “Mae” Foley, the country’s first female investigator, who hunted rapists and serial killers before women had the right to vote.
Facing challenges in her research due to limited records, Eder turned to libraries, archives, historical sources, and newspapers to shed light on the often overlooked role of women in law enforcement during that era. Despite scant records, Eder’s meticulous research revealed their remarkable journey and unwavering dedication.
In the session, she invites the audience to explore the lives of these incredible women who defied norms and pushed boundaries. “Women make good actresses, so they can go undercover and no one will suspect them”. She also draws parallels between the past and the present, showcasing the potential of a more diverse police force in addressing modern challenges. “Research has shown that when women are involved in incidents, there is less chance of violence and more opportunities for better outcomes.”
Eder shared insights into her writing process, emphasizing the importance of consistency. Drawing inspiration from Maya Angelou, she emphasized the value of showing up to write every day, even if it means working on seemingly mundane aspects of the book. She also acknowledged the influence other authors had on her writing style, particularly for their ability to entertain readers while providing valuable insights, which made her aspire to deliver a similar blend in her own works.
Reflecting on her own journey, Eder urged young writers to persevere through challenges and setbacks, and stressed that although success might not come overnight, consistent effort and dedication can yield meaningful results. Finally, she reflected on the publishing process, whose pace she humorously compared to a glacier’s movement, and shared some of the unique challenges and quirks of the industry.
The event offered a captivating insight into women’s impact on law enforcement, as depicted in her book The Girls Who Fought Crime, and into the mind of the woman behind it. Through meticulous research and passionate storytelling, Eder’s work offers a fresh perspective on history while celebrating the tenacity and contributions of remarkable women from the past.
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