Guest Chick Mariah Fredericks

The Chicks are thrilled to welcome Mariah Fredericks to the coop! Today, the Mary Higgins Clark Award nominee, whose novel The Lindbergh Nanny is racking up some serious accolades, shares how an unexpected turn turned into something unexpectedly wonderful. Take it away, Mariah!

How Bad News Became a Fresh Start

Any writer of a series knows: you never want it to end. It’s not just the money—Lord knows it’s not the money—you fall hard for those characters and that world. I turned in the most recent book of the Jane Prescott series in February of 2020, right before New York City went into covid lockdown. I immediately started bugging my agent: do they want another? Should I start another? They’ll want another, right?

Actually, that’s a lie. I’d been bugging my agent for months. I just felt so strongly about this work, I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t get the chance to continue.

It took a while. But finally the answer came. Covid was hitting series hard. The publisher wanted to try something new. They left the door open to continue at some time. But for now the job was to write a historical standalone.

Yes, I cried.

And I was stumped. What could I write about that would draw new readers? If people didn’t care about my name, what could I put on that cover that would make people say That, I want to read that.

I write a lady’s maid series. So, mentally, I put servants into big historical events. A waiter on The Titanic? That tutor for the last Romanovs? Oh, yeah, it had to be a mystery. Not much mystery as to what happened in either of those cases.

Then I remembered Murder on the Orient Express. The opening shots of the movie where the nanny is tied up on the floor as little Daisy Armstrong is kidnapped. I knew the novel had been inspired by the Lindbergh kidnapping. So, who was that nurse? Was she a real person?

A quick search revealed she was. Her name was Betty Gow. She was young, she was pretty—and she was a suspect. As was her boyfriend. As were several other people in the Lindbergh and Morrow households.

I called my agent. Who said, Do I have to send the publisher any other ideas? I said, No, I think this is it.

The Lindbergh Nanny was a very hard book to write. I had never written actual historical figures before and this story involved one of the most admired and reviled Americans of the 20th century. Betty wasn’t Jane Prescott, a character I knew so well. At first, the voice felt stiff. I was frantic to be both accurate and fair when it came to depicting the people involved. As one of the Lindbergh children has said, This was a real family that experienced a real loss. Betty Gow went through agonizing times. I discovered that putting that kind of pain on the page is different than cruelty and loss that comes solely from your imagination.

This book has had far more reader and media attention than any book in my series. That’s good. Even better: writing it stretched me. I still hope to be reunited with Jane Prescott one day. But doing standalones has shown me I can write things I would have thought were beyond me. It astonishes me to say it. But in this case, bad news turned out to be a wonderful opportunity.

What was a low point in your (writing) life? How did you get back on your feet?

About The Nanny:

A novel about the most infamous kidnapping in American history, The Nanny chronicles this historic event through the eyes of one of its prime suspects: the young woman known as the Lindbergh nanny.

“Fredericks…never forgets to put the human cost, and its lasting damage, at the forefront of her narrative.” 
The New York Times

Indie Next Pick

CrimeReads “Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2022”

Book Bub’s “Best Historical Fiction of Fall 2022”

Good Morning America’s “November Books to Pack for the Holidays”

About Mariah:

Mariah Fredericks was born, raised, and still lives in New York City. She graduated from Vassar College with a degree in history. She is the author of the Jane Prescott mystery series, which has twice been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She can be reached through her website,

24 thoughts on “Guest Chick Mariah Fredericks

  1. Mariah, you know how much I love Jane Prescott and I grieve with you about her being put on hold. I’ve been there. And cried. But your switch and the accolades it’s receiving inspire me. I can’t wait to read the book!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for being on the Chicks! I’m so glad things turned around for you, and congrats on all the accolades, Mariah!

    For my low point, I had a time right before getting my Sassy Cat Mysteries when I thought, “Why am I writing?” I wasn’t getting much traction…until I got a lucky break with an editor!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience with a different kind of writing, Mariah. I am my own publisher, so I don’t have to contend with some one else’s opinion as to when my series should end (except my reader’s, of course). But it is nice to do different things. In addition to my Natalie McMasters Mysteries, which are contemporary, edgy and sexy, I write canonical Sherlock Holmes pastiches for specialty publishers and have even published an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired horror story. I have ideas for other stories, but it seems like Natalie McMasters always has another tale to be told. However, during the course of the series, the secondary characters have grown so much that the latest book seems to be as much about them as it is about Nattie. So continuing a series does not necessarily lead to stagnation.
    BTW, your Lindbergh book sounds fascination. He’s an important character in my Lovecraft pastiche, so I’ll be interested in seeing how you’ve handled him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovecraft! Speaking of fascinating characters…

      I totally agree a series doesn’t have to stagnate. I think a lot of them just get better and richer over time. The difficulty is now for those of us who publish traditionally, the economics of series have changed and the powers that be aren’t willing/able to let it build as long as they might have in the past. I love that your secondary characters are coming into their own. That’s a sign of a flourishing storyline, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Three cheers to the success of the new book, Mariah! I’m actually going through one of those low points now. A standalone mystery I had an absolute ball writing was just rejected by an editor my agent was sure would say yes. My response? After licking my wounds, turn my attention to another project and just keep writing. Best wishes to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My low point came when my publisher let me go after four Sally Solari mysteries. But then, lo and behold, another one stepped up to offer me a contract for two more–hurrah!

    Thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today, Mariah. And now I’ve got more books to add to my TBR pile! (I remember my mom and dad–who were small children at the time–talking about how freaked out their parents were when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped. The whole country was on edge, they said.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My pleasure! Thank you for having me. And that’s amazing you found someone to pick up a series; I know that’s rare. Congratulations.

      It’s incredible how that crime lurks in people’s psyches. Maurice Sendak wrote about it, Gloria Vanderbilt was obsessed by it. it’s so elemental.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Congratulations, Mariah! What a way to recover! The Covid shutdown was painful in so many ways and I couldn’t write, so I used NaNoWriMo for the first time, and having a group goal was so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NaNoWriMo was a lifesaver for so many people. At one point during covid, I tried writing something contemporary and immediately realized there was no way I could live and write in the present. The work just reeked of anxiety and despair!


  7. Mariah, this is on my TBR pile! I’ve dabbled with writing about a historical figure, without much luck so far. I’m impressed with your turn at incorporating a real life person into your novel!
    Thanks for hanging out today with the Chicks!


    1. Thank you! I was terrified of writing a real person—not to mention one of the most admired and then reviled Americans of the 20th century. I genuinely lost sleep over it. But now I’m kind of hooked on it. It’s a fascinating psychological exercise.


  8. Thanks so much for visiting Chicks today, Mariah! I can’t wait to read your book. Funny, but in 7th grade I wrote a 44-page (eek!) history paper on the Lindbergh kidnapping. (We got to choose the historical event.) We were required to use primary sources, or mostly, as I remember, so I viewed all the papers on microfiche and read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead. I was absolutely fascinated. My poor teacher. He read the whole thing, lol. I even included xeroxed photos from the crime scene. But I never forgot the story, or Betty Gow. I had no idea I’d ever be a crime writer, but maybe I should have suspected. Congrats on all your success with The Lindbergh Nanny!


    1. That is SO COOL! I bet your teacher was thrilled. I knew the story fairly well—or thought I did. But I really only knew the family’s experience until working on this book. Have you ever been to the trial re-enactment in Flemington? I’m dying to go.


  9. Mariah, your post not only inspired me, but added to my TBR pile. The Lindbergh Nanny sounds absolutely AMAZING!!! Congrats on all of your well deserved success. We’re so happy you hung out with us!


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