Charley's Field Notes #1

Charley’s Secret Web Page  >  Charley’s Field Notes #1

Thanks so much for reading A Shot of Murder. 

As you can probably tell, I am a bit of a history buff and try to incorporate as much of it into these stories as I can. Unfortunately, I couldn’t include all the bits and baubles of inspiration from the story in the back matter, so I decided to share it here. I hope you enjoy this edition of Charley’s Field Notes.

The Stormont Home

Kingston Ontario is known as the Limestone City because many of its historic buildings and homes were built with local limestone. But I wanted Charley’s home to be different, like she is, and so I envisaged this red-brick colonial home.

Charley’s favourite chair

A bergère (pronounced bear-jshare) is an enclosed upholstered French armchair (known as a fauteuil) with an upholstered back and armrests on upholstered frames. It is designed for lounging in comfort, with a deeper, wider seat than that of a regular fauteuil. They first became fashionable under the reign of Louis XV, when they were rounded and generous, and under Louis XVI they straightened their backs and looked a little more strict but still kept to the basic style.

Charley’s sleek, red portable typewriter

Originally Freddie’s, this is a genuine 1930s LC Smith Corona Floating Shift Portable typewriter. And if you’re interested, you can see the manual for it here.

It is with some trepidation that I share this image with you…

When I started developing the concept for the Charley Hall series, I had this image in mind as a possible cover. It looks 1940s-ish, and the building in the back could very well be part of Kingston Penitentiary (more on that later). But the reason I am showing you this is not because the woman on the front is Charley (although, I suppose in a way she inspired her physical appearance, too–but please don’t get caught up on that if that isn’t how you envisage her), but because of the case she’s carrying. THAT was the inspiration for the portable red typewriter and THAT was the genesis for the character of Charley.

Of course, I never used this image, but it turns out many other authors have. I have seen it as the cover of at least four different books!

Kingston Penitentiary

Opened in 1835, until it was eventually closed in 2013, Kingston Pen housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals.

A National Historic Site of Canada, it now offers tours, often given by former guards. My daughter and I took advantage of it a few years ago. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend visiting.

This a very interesting map with links to the area around the Penitentiary.

Rockwood Asylum

Before the widespread use of asylums, people with psychiatric conditions were placed in jail. In Kingston, they were placed in the basement of the penitentiary. Rockwood Asylum was built in the mid-1800s. It underwent several name changes over the next hundred years, eventually becoming Kingston Psychiatric Hospital before closing its doors in 1997.

Surrounded by fences, you can’t get very close to the actual hospital, but you can walk around the lovely grounds. Some of the administrative buildings are being used for government services. Although it’s been closed for years, you can see some strange after-hours explorations of the facility on YouTube by people much braver than I.

Thanks again for reading A Shot of Murder and don’t forget to check out To Fetch a Thief, A Bessie Stormont Whodunit. You can read it here.

And for more of Charley’s adventures, pick up Rigged for Murder (A Charley Hall Mystery, Book 2).

Go back to Charley’s Secret Web Page