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Monday, January 13, 2020

Jack the Ripper Victims Series by Alan M. Clark

  • What inspired you to write these stories?


The first novel I wrote in the series, Of Thimble and Threat, is about the fourth victim, Catherine Eddowes. I was inspired to write it after reading the police report of her murder. In the report, I found a list that cataloged all of the personal belongings, including clothing, found on her at the crime scene. She had over fifty items, many in pockets hidden under her top skirt. The list, though a long one, spoke of a pitiful existence on the street. She’d been sleeping outdoors in a stall at the casual ward of the workhouse and getting by, at least in part, as a casual prostitute.

At the time I read the police report, homelessness was becoming much more common in the U.S. I was in contact with the homeless more and more. Many of them suffered problems with mental health. I had compassion for them as; clearly, they did not choose to be homeless.

Eddowes’s possessions seemed to be telling me something of her meager existence in her time, not unlike what I saw on the streets of my time. Having read what was available about Catherine Eddowes’s life, a story began to emerge, one informed by all those items, some old, and some new to her.

Once I’d finished the novel, the environment, London’s East End haunted me, kept calling for me to return. I studied up on the other victims and made a series of it.


  • Do you have any “side stories” about the characters or series?


Yes. There are curiosities of the series, 2 novels that is conjoined to the main series:

1)The Surgeon’s Mate: A Dismemoir (A meta story within the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, part )

2)The Assassin’s Coin, by John Linwood Grant, a companion to Alan M. Clark’s The Prostitute’s Price. The Assassin’s Coin was written at the same time as The Prostitute’s Price. Grant and Clark coordinated their efforts so that the novels both stand on their own as separate books, but also appear together in one volume titled 13 Miller’s Court, in which the two novels’ chapters alternate. The stories, from two different POV characters, share the same timeline, some scenes, and some characters. To gain a broader perspective of each novel, read both, preferably together in the single volume13 Miller’s Court.


  • How did you come up with the concept and characters for the books?


I wanted to write stories about the Jack the Ripper victims that were to some extent social commentary about the roles and struggles of women, and about poverty and crime within a society with a class system. I read what was available from the historical record about the Jack the Ripper murders, and studied up on the environment, especially that of London’s poverty-ridden East End so I‘d have a sense of the world in which the women lived. I had to learn about the opportunities and stresses possible within the environment in order to find my stories. I knew how the stories of his victims all ended. I knew that if I did the job right, readers would care about the women I was depicting. Readers who know anything about the murders also would know that the stories are tragedies. Therefore, the trick was to get to the end of each tale in such a way that readers would know that the end of the main character was proper within the context of the story.


  • What did you enjoy most about writing this book?


Exploring the history. Victorian London was a fascinating world, much of it lost to us now.


  • Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?


They were women with simple lives, relatively unknown in their time, but their lives on this Earth were not without the struggles, conflicts, high emotion, and controversies that make for good stories. Theirs are stories of survival within the dangerous East End of London in the 1880s.


  • Who designed your book covers?


I did. I am also an illustrator.


  • Anything specific you want to tell your readers?


There are parallels between the society of Victorian London and the where we find ourselves now in the Industrial West. The fast pace of change in Victorian England was a product of the industrial revolution, which caused many problems for British society. In our time, as a result of the tech revolution, we have similar problems; high levels of unemployment, growing poverty, the chasm forming between the haves and have-nots, the power wielded by those with wealth over governments and peoples, and increasing injustice for those with but little voice in their government and a rapidly changing society.


  • If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?


I would spend time with Catherine Eddowes. I’d politely ask her to sing for me.


  • Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?


They are based on real people, but I only had a skeleton of their lives to inform me. Therefore, I had to fill in the gaps with emotion, motivations, and dialogue that helped move them reasonably through what we do know of their lives.


  • Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?


They do take on a life of their own and on occasion, they argue with what I had planned for them.  Most of the time, their arguments are sound and they get their way. That an aspect of discovery in the creative process is quite wonderful, I think.


Convince us why you feel your book is a must-read.

Because the characters are just like us and the stories are absolutely pertinent to what we experience in our world today. There are parallels between the society of Victorian London and the where we find ourselves now in the Industrial Western. The fast pace of change in Victorian England was a product of the industrial revolution, which caused many problems for British society. In our time, as a result of the tech revolution we have similar problems: high levels of unemployment, growing poverty, the chasm forming between the haves and have-nots, the power wielded by those with wealth over governments and peoples, increasing injustice for those with but little voice in their government and a rapidly changing society.


Alan M. Clark’s Jack the Ripper Victims Series is comprised of five novels, one for each of the canonical victims of the murderer. These stories are not only meant to appeal to those interested in the horror that was the Autumn of Terror, but also those interested in the struggles of women in the 19th century. They are well-researched, fictional dramatic stories meant to help readers walk in the shoes of the victims and give a sense of the world as each of the women may have experienced it. The timelines for the stories run mostly concurrently, so it doesn’t matter in what order the books in the series are read. They are simultaneously drama, mystery, thriller, historical fiction, and horror. They are novels concerning horror that happened.


A Brutal Chill in August 
The First Victim of Jack the Ripper 
by Alan M. Clark 
Genre: Crime Horror

Publisher: IFD Publishing
Publication Date: December 7, 2019


We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?

Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstances. Jack the Ripper's first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.

With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is a horror that happened. 



Music Video
The song sung by the ghost that haunts Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols




Apologies to the Cat's Meat Man 
The Second Victim of Jack the Ripper  
Publication Date: June 9, 2017



This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

Annie Chapman led a hard, lower-class life in filthy 19th century London. Late in life, circumstances and her choices led her to earn her crust by solicitation. After a bruising brawl with another woman over money and a man, she lost her lodgings and found herself sleeping rough. That dangerous turn of events delivered her into the hands of London's most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper.

Contrasting her last week alive with the experiences of her earlier life, the author helps readers understand how she might have made the decisions that put her in the wrong place at the wrong time 







Say Anything But Your Prayers 
The Third Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: June 11, 2017


This novel is part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone story.

An imaginative reconstruction of the life of Elizabeth Stride, the third victim of Jack the Ripper. The beast of poverty and disease had stalked Elizabeth all her life, waiting for the right moment to take her down. To survive, she listened to the two extremes within herself--Bess, the innocent child of hope, and Liza, the cynical, hardbitten opportunist. While Bess paints rosy pictures of what lies ahead and Liza warns of dangers everywhere, the beast, in the guise of a man offering something better, circles ever closer. 




Of Thimble and Threat 
The Fourth Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: September 28, 2017


In Victorian London, the greatest city of the richest country in the world, the industrial revolution has created a world of decadence and prosperity, but also one of unimaginable squalor and suffering. Filth, decay, danger, sorrow, and death are ever-present in the streets. Catherine Eddowes is found murdered gruesomely in the city's East End. When the police make their report, the only indicators of her life are the possessions carried on her person, likely everything she owned in the world. In Of Thimble and Threat, Alan M. Clark tells the heartbreaking story of Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim of Jack the Ripper, explaining the origin and acquisition of the items found with her at the time of her death, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood, motherhood, her descent into alcoholism, and finally her death. Of Thimble and Threat is a story of the intense love between a mother and a child, a story of poverty and loss, fierce independence, and unconquerable will. It is the devastating portrayal of a self-perpetuated descent into Hell, a lucid view into the darkest parts of the human heart. 




The Prostitute's Price 
The Fifth Victim of Jack the Ripper 
Publication Date: August 30, 2018


A novel that beats back our assumptions about the time of Jack the Ripper. Not the grim story of an unfortunate drunken prostitute killed before her time, but one of a young woman alive with all the emotional complexity of women today. Running from a man wanting her to pay for her crimes against his brother, Mary Jane Kelly must recover a valuable hidden necklace and sell it to gain the funds to leave London and start over elsewhere. Driven by powerful, if at times conflicting emotion, she runs the dystopian labyrinth of the East End, and tries to sneak past the deadly menace that bars her exit.

Although THE PROSTITUTE'S PRICE is a standalone tale, and part of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, it is also a companion story to the novel, THE ASSASSIN'S COIN, by John Linwood Grant. The gain a broader experience of each novel, read both. 











Author and illustrator, Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including twelve novels, a couple of novellas, four collections of fiction, some of them lavishly illustrated, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr. Clark's company, IFD Publishing, has released 42 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audiobooks, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. 









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1 comment:

  1. As the author and illustrator of the Jack the Ripper Victims Series, I thank you for participating in the blog tour. I am happy to answer questions here or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlarmClank

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