Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Selina Kray on her Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo tour. Welcome, Selina!
Hi, romance lovers! I’m Selina Kray, and this is the latest stop on the Stoker & Bash blog tour. A huge thank you to the lovely people at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today. I thought I’d talk a little bit about some of the historical details in Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, in which burlesque isn’t really burlesque.
Say the word “burlesque” nowadays, and your mind conjures images of Dita von Teese in a giant champagne glass; sparkly, barely there outfits capped by a giant feather boa; or the camp-tastic film with Cher and Christina Aguilera. Erotic dance as reclaimed by fierce feminists unafraid of expressing their sexuality.
But back in the Victorian era, burlesque titillated both your body and your mind. It started as a way for working class audiences to poke some fun at the classics of theatre, opera, and ballet. The plays of Shakespeare, for instance, would be:
“…adapted into a broad comic play, usually a musical play, usually risqué in style, mocking the theatrical and musical conventions and styles of the original work, and often quoting or pastiching text or music from the original work.” (source: Wikipedia: Victorian Burlesque)
The actors would sing or speak in rhyming couplets, rife with bad puns, and the action of these parodies would often be set to the popular music of the time. Gender-swapping some of the characters was the norm. One of the most popular burlesque performers, Nellie Farren, starred as The Gaiety Theatre’s “principal boy” for over 20 years.
Eventually, theatres combined burlesques with more standard music hall fare, such as singers, comics, skits, dramatic monologues, and dances, into evening-long extravaganzas. The idea was not only to mock the haughty airs and impenetrable verses of classic plays and operas, but to dull some of the sharp-edged plot points of the tragedies. With names like The Bohemian G-yurl & the Unapproachable Pole and Cinder Ellen Up Too Late, you get the sense that audiences and performers alike had a wild, bawdy good time.
In Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo, one of my characters is a burlesque performer at The Gaiety Theatre, which specialized in burlesque for 30 years. While I did research what parody was playing in that theatre in October 1873—only to be disappointed when I found out it was based on an opera—I decided to make up my own.
A performance of Robbing Hood and his Mercenary Men sets the stage for one of the most important encounters between the novel’s two leads, Tim and Hiero, and is the background for a lot of the action. So in addition to transporting you back to the Victorian era, Stoker & Bash: The Fangs of Scavo will also take you to the punny wilds of “Sure Would” Forest.
At Scotland Yard, DI Timothy Stoker is no better than a ghost. A master of arcane documents and niggling details who, unlike his celebrity-chasing colleagues, prefers hard work to headlines. But an invisible man is needed to unmask the city’s newest amateur detective, Hieronymus Bash. A bon vivant long on flash and style but short on personal history, Bash just may be a Cheapside rogue in Savile Row finery.
When the four fangs of the Demon Cats of Scavo—trophies that protect the hunters who killed the two vicious beasts—disappear one by one, Stoker’s forced to team with the very man he was sent to investigate to maintain his cover. He finds himself thrust into a world of wailing mediums, spiritualist societies, man-eating lions, and a consulting detective with more ambition than sense. Will this case be the end of his career, or the start of an unexpected liaison? Or will the mysterious forces at play be the death of them both?
And just who is Hieronymus Bash?
June 12 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
June 14 – MM Good Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books, BFD Book Blog, We Three Queens, Inglorious Bitches
June 16 – Gay Book Reviews
June 19 – Keysmash
June 21 – Bayou Book Junkie
June 23 – Dog-Eared Daydreams, Padme’s Library, Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books
June 26 – Diverse Reader
Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.
Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.
If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net
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