Interview with Charlotte Whitney, author of The Unveiling of Polly Forrest

Welcome to the blog tour for The Unveiling of Polly Forrest by Charlotte Whitney! Today you get a sneak peek inside this historical mystery as well as a quick Q&A with the author! Remember to leave more questions in the comments section and follow the tour for more. Best of luck entering the great giveaway!

Rural Michigan, 1934.

During the throes of the Great Depression Polly marries for money. After her husband Sam dies in a bizarre farm accident, new bride Polly assumes she is set to pursue her dream of opening a hat-making business. Instead, she becomes the prime suspect in Sam’s murder. Secrets abound and even Polly’s family can’t figure out the truth.

Read an excerpt:

Sarah Wolcott Johnson

Thursday, May 24, 1934

I couldn’t hold back. “Polly, you’re such a liar. You kept making excuses for all your bruises and now you’re still hiding stuff from us. Sam’s letter. And now the coffee. When will it all end? All these lies. All this deception.” 

Contrary to what Wes said, I was not going to apologize for anything.  She was the one who needed to make amends.

Polly stiffened, put the coffee cup on the table, and stood rigid, arms crossed. I looked out the kitchen window and could see Sailor Dog in the yard a few feet away, probably drawn close by our voices.

Polly wrinkled up her nose. “Well, sometimes deception is the best course of action. Fewer people get hurt.” She was making no sense.

“I think not,” I responded. “Deception only builds and builds until you have such a mess you can’t get out of it. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.”  

“That’s enough, Sarah,” Wes said to me. He was speaking as if I were a misbehaving child, which perturbed me even more.

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Q: How did you get the idea for your latest book, The Unveiling of Polly Forrest?

A:  I wanted to write a traditional mystery, only set in rural Michigan during the Great Depression. So I imagined the farm that I grew up on—which became Polly and Sam’s farm, but I added an adjacent farm on a hill above. That way the sisters Polly and Sarah would only be a stone’s throw away from each other. Now, it begins to get interesting. Ever since I read Gone Girl I wanted to write a book with at least one unreliable narrator. But I wanted to do it differently. I wanted to keep the reader guessing if Polly was being totally honest in her letters to her mother in Connecticut. By the way, letters are a long part of a literary tradition, perhaps beginning with Paul’s epistles (letters) in the Bible. Letters were about the only method of affordable communication in the 1930s, long distance phone calls being prohibitively expensive. So I had a good starting point, creating Polly’s letters to her mother, and also setting the stage for the mystery. Was Sam’s death a suicide, homicide, or freak farm accident?

Q: Who is your favorite author and why?

A: Mark Twain, hands down. Think about Huckleberry Finn which can be read at many different levels. As a children’s book it contains lots of colorful characters and great adventures. As an adult book, the reader can see the intense contrast of depravity and integrity in the various characters and also empathize with Huck and his decision to help Jim gain freedom, when Huck full well believed that his actions would send him to hell. The book is also a history lesson and a portrait of the antebellum South. But for me Huckleberry Finn is the finest piece of American literature. It strikes racism right in its heart. We try to deny what a horrible impact slavery had on the American conscience. But it is still evident today. The Black Lives Matter movement didn’t emerge in a vacuum; we still have miles to go if we can even begin to correct the horrible injustices of that institution. Mark Twain’s writing is a starting point.

Q: Any weird things you do when you’re alone?

A: No, but would I really mention it, if I exhibited some unsavory behaviors? This question leaves me guessing what other authors might mention.  Dancing nude before breakfast? Scratching your belly and whooping like an ape before lunch?  Screaming at the television when you don’t like the outcome of a program?  

Q: What is your favorite quote and why?

A:  “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Charlotte Whitney is the author of historical fiction set during the Great Depression in the rural Midwest. Her most recent work, The Unveiling of Polly Forrest, a stand-alone historical mystery follows her groundbreaking novel, Threads A Depression-Era Tale, which was met with both critical acclaim and commercial success. She received a master’s degree in English at the University of Michigan, and after a short stint of teaching at two community colleges, worked at the University of Michigan where she was an associate director of the Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts. Currently living in Arizona with her husband and two dogs she enjoys hiking, bicycling, swimming, and yoga.

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14 thoughts on “Interview with Charlotte Whitney, author of The Unveiling of Polly Forrest”

        1. Lifelong fan! Grew up in Toledo, straddling the state line with Mom’s family in Michigan and Dad’s in Ohio.

  1. Thank you for sharing your interview and book details, I have enjoyed reading this post and I am looking forward to reading your story

  2. I enjoyed the Q&A, great excerpt and The Unveiling of Polly Forrest sounds like a book that I will enjoy reading! Thanks for sharing it with me and have a wonderful day!

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