Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Spotlight on novelist Tonya Mitchell, author of A Feigned Madness

Tonya Mitchell

Some Fun Facts

I’m digging pretty deep here…I’m plain vanilla as uniqueness goes. 😉

I once set off a security alarm in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. 
I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and was touring the museum with my family. I wanted to look at something more closely and went past the velvet rope and onto some sort of elevated platform. I’ve long forgotten what it was I was so curious about—probably because armed guards came running and THAT is what has stuck, all these years, in my mind. Forever, actually. Grown men running, eyes on me, my mother aghast as she looked on.

Dark chocolate with 70% cacao or above makes me sneeze.
 I thought this was some strange quirk only I experienced until I received my report from 23andMe which actually mentioned this. According to the report, the “dark chocolate sneeze” is an inherited trait seen less prevalently in the “Neanderthal line.” Life is strange. Genes are stranger.

I lived in Mexico City, Mexico for a few years when I was young. 
Some of my friends back home in Indiana thought I’d be riding to school on a burro and would have no running water. At the time, Mexico City was one of the biggest cities in the world, a far cry from the desert town they imagined. I also lived in Germany for a year when I was first married. I loved both experiences and wouldn’t trade them for the world.

I have identical twin boys. I believe I inherited this from my father’s side. 
Identical twins are not believed to be genetic, but I scoff at this. All of my dad’s brother’s daughters (my cousins) have a set of twins.

My first job was detasseling corn. 
I was fourteen and fifteen and it was the hardest, most grueling work I’ve ever done. For the month of August, for two summers, I walked down row after row of corn and removed the tassel (the top part of the stalk, which is the male part). The point was to allow another type of male corn, planted nearby, to pollinate the stalk instead, creating a hybrid. In addition to the calluses and sunburn, I got corn rash, spider bites, and fell in a deep hole running for a barn during a thunderstorm. After that, I was done with detasseling corn.


The insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island is a human rat trap. It is easy to get in, but once there it is impossible to get out. —Nellie Bly

 Elizabeth Cochrane has a secret.

 She isn’t the madwoman with amnesia the doctors and inmates at Blackwell’s Asylum think she is.
 In truth, she’s working undercover for the New York World. When the managing editor refuses to hire her because she’s a woman, Elizabeth strikes a deal: in exchange for a job, she’ll impersonate a lunatic to expose a local asylum’s abuses.

When she arrives at the asylum, Elizabeth realizes she must make a decision—is she there merely to bear witness, or to intervene on behalf of the abused inmates? Can she interfere without blowing her cover? As the superintendent of the asylum grows increasingly suspicious, Elizabeth knows her scheme—and her dream of becoming a journalist in New York—is in jeopardy.

A Feigned Madness is a meticulously researched, fictionalized account of the woman who would come to be known as daredevil reporter Nellie Bly. At a time of cutthroat journalism, when newspapers battled for readers at any cost, Bly emerged as one of the first to break through the gender barrier—a woman who would, through her daring exploits, forge a trail for women fighting for their place in the world.

Purchase Links


About the Author

Ever since reading Jane Eyre in high school, Tonya Mitchell has been drawn to dark stories of the gothic variety. Her influences include Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bram Stoker. More contemporarily, she loves the work of Agatha Christie, Margaret Atwood, and Laura Purcell. When she landed on a story about a woman who feigned insanity in order to go undercover in an insane asylum, she knew she’d landed on something she was meant to write. Her short fiction has appeared in, among other publications, Glimmer and Other Stories and Poems, for which she won the Cinnamon Press award in fiction. She is a self-professed Anglophile and is obsessed with all things relating to the Victorian period. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society North America and resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and three wildly energetic sons. A Feigned Madness is her first novel.
Connect with Tonya

1 comment:

  1. I love your "five things you did not know about me" posts, Mary Ann - they are so much fun!

    Thank you for hosting today's tour stop for A Feigned Madness.