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Words with a Wordsmith D. S. Lang

By Rebecca D’Harlingue
August 25, 2023

D.S. Lang Books – at the Corner of History and Mystery

 

What period of history do you wish you knew more about? 

I love history, and I’m always eager to learn more about every time period. Since I read a lot of historical fiction, I often get intrigued by time and place in novels. Then, I’m off to find nonfiction books about those settings.

For the first two years of my teaching career, I taught American history (the Colonial and Revolutionary War period), but I’m still learning about it. With the popularity of “Hamilton,” I not only watched the movie, I read several books about Alexander and two about Eliza, his wife.

Both of my series are set after the Great War. I thought I knew a lot about that conflict until I watched a PBS “American Experience” mini-series about America’s role. It turned out that I only had a superficial understanding of World War I. Because I wanted to learn more, I started reading both fiction and nonfiction related to that period. In searching for material, I found a book and documentary about women who served as U.S. Army Signal Corps operators. Their story is fascinating. My first series, Arabella Stewart Historical Mysteries, has two main characters who were in France during the war. The amateur sleuth, Bella, was an operator, and the town constable, Jax, was an officer in the American Expeditionary Force. Their war experiences play a significant role in their backstories. For now, I’m staying in 1920s America for my books, but as I read about other time periods, I may create another series!

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What was the inspiration for your most recent book?

My dad is the main inspiration, since I’m using his birthplace as the setting. The first book in my second series will be released on August 21. It is set in 1920s small town America, like the first series, but in a different town. This town is loosely based on Mitchaw, Ohio. Mitchaw was a four-corners, unincorporated village that disappeared from the maps many decades ago. I have taken considerable license in not only making the town much larger than it ever was, I’ve put a small college there. Also, I changed the spelling to Michaw. It has been fun to create a setting based on an actual place, while maintaining a strong sense of the time. My own hometown, Sylvania, is mentioned since Mitchaw was only a few miles away.

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Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, what’s on your writing playlist?

I always have music playing while writing and editing. Smooth jazz sets a good mood for the 1920s, so I have a few go-to albums. I always listen to instrumentals, so I am not tempted to sing along!

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What do you worry about in your work?

My biggest concern is anachronisms. As a reader, I cringe when I see a glaring error, and I wonder how many more mistakes are in the book. I spend a lot of time doing research to avoid errors, because I want to provide a deep, correct impression of time and place for my readers.

Slang can be especially tricky. I wanted to use the word jalopy in a book set in 1920. Since I wasn’t sure of its origin, I looked it up and discovered the term wasn’t used until 1924, when old cars sent to Jalapa, Mexico scrapyards were given that designation. My second series is set later in the decade, so I’ll work jalopy into one of the books.

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How long do you read until you bail on a book you don’t like?

If I’m not drawn into a book after fifty pages, I stop. I have a huge To Be Read List, and I’ll probably never get to all of them. Also, there are several favorites that I reread every two or three years. Whoever said: “So many books, so little time” was right!

 

D.S. Lang started making up stories to entertain herself as an only child, and she is still making them up. Now, she puts them in writing!

After earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education from The University of Toledo, she worked as a golf shop manager, teacher (junior high, high school, and college), program manager, tutor, and mentor. She has a lifelong love of history and often gets sidetracked on research when she should be writing. When she isn’t working on a book (or doing other author tasks!), she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, and walking with her dog, Izzy.

Her two historical mystery series are set in small-town Ohio after the Great War. They feature amateur women sleuths determined to catch the bad guys and gals.

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Rebecca D’Harlingue

Written by Rebecca D’Harlingue

Award-winning author Rebecca D’Harlingue writes about seventeenth-century women forging a different path. Her debut novel, The Lines Between Us, won an Independent Press Award and a CIBA Chaucer Award. Her second novel, The Map Colorist, won a Literary Titan Award and a Firebird Book Award.

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