Author Interview: Mim Eichmann



JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Mim. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like? 

ME- Thanks so much for including me with your Books Delight interviews, Jeanie! I’ve lived in the far west suburbs outside of Chicago, IL for most of my adult life, although from birth thru high school, I lived in Washington, D.C.  I graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN and, although I’d always assumed that I would end up living back on the East Coast, it seems that I’m pretty much entrenched here in the Midwest at this point! 

     After having been so isolated with Covid restrictions during this last year and a half, just the opportunity to play music with my acoustic folk quartet again has been absolute heaven!  We’re finally able to start booking in-person gigs after many months of only being allowed access to live streaming or pre-recorded programs. 

     A perfect day to me is one where my writing flows without too much angst early in the day -- I have an opportunity to take a long luxurious walk with a friend in one of our many forest preserves -- I’m able to enjoy a wonderful dinner with friends either at home or at a favorite restaurant -- and later either listen to a concert or play music well into the evening, perhaps with a few of those same friends. 

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why? 

ME- 1880s - early 20th Century.  Incredible advances in technology, health, and higher education both benefited and undermined the socio-economic development of individuals, corporations, and entire countries in almost all global sectors, thus making this a fascinating period in our modern history. 

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be? 

ME- I’d have to go with Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt – an American woman who successfully challenged the exclusive male-dominated European art world in the late 19th Century. Talent is never enough, of course. Perseverance, patience, intelligence, and grit won her a place at the table so to speak. I’ve been in love with her extraordinary artwork since I was a little girl and first discovered a photo of her exquisite painting titled “The Bath” in an encyclopedia. Miss Cassatt’s unparalleled sense of balance, rhythm, light, air and space has definitely influenced all of my artistic endeavors throughout my life. I would love to learn more regarding how she achieved such mastery with what often appears as a just the simplest brushstroke. 

JMR- From the director of a ballet company to an acoustic quartet/song writer--how did you come to be a writer of historical fiction? 

ME- Ballet dancers have an extremely brief shelf life!  Professionals are often gobbled up in their mid-teens and spit out by their mid-to-late 20s or very early 30s.  From that point, not all dancers end up as teachers and choreographers, although I did for several decades.  Along that path, a unique opportunity to return to my ‘folk roots’, as it were, about 17 years ago spurred me to get back into playing live music.  I adored working with my dancers, of course, but needed something for myself! 

      During those years I had been collecting letters, diaries, journals, and short stories of women from the late 19th Century, as well as reading countless non-fiction accounts of that era, and had very early on written a fairly detailed synopsis for what became “A Sparrow Alone”, my debut historical fiction novel.  In 2017, having retired from teaching ballet, my bucket list for the year was to put pen to paper, which I did, expecting to write only the one book.  What I didn’t anticipate was the revelation about 80% into my work, that I wasn’t done and that I needed to know what had happened to several of my fictional characters! Hence in 2018, I wrote the book’s sequel, “Muskrat Ramble”. 

    And, until recently, I’d also assumed that “Muskrat Ramble” would be the end, however, I’m now researching an offshoot which tells the story of an important character who had vanished for most of the second novel.  I had avoided even exploring this idea at first since that part of the story takes place prior to and during World War II in Occupied France. The h.f. market is so saturated with WWII novels these days I really didn’t want to jump into those (shark-infested) waters quite frankly. Nonetheless, I think I’ve found something of an unexplored niche, so it’s rapidly becoming a more interesting project. 

JMR- What is the biggest challenge in getting readers to pick up a work of historical fiction? How do writers convince reluctant readers that history is fascinating? 

ME- Boy, I sure wish I knew the answer to your second question so I’m going to concentrate on the first one, Jeanie!

     Just by its nature, historical fiction (if we’re not muddying the description here with romance, mystery, spec fiction, paranormal, etc.) is a precarious blend of historically based accounts and typically both historical and fictional characters.  Too heavy on the historical, you’re accused of writing a dry tome/textbook.  Too heavy on the character development, you’re accused of too simplistic an overview with poorly researched plot elements.  Try to recreate semi-realistic dialogue and you’ve lost more than half of your audience right there – however, if you don’t make an attempt towards that end, the other group will accuse you of being too modern with your characters’ repartee! 

     Also, in an author’s attempt to realistically set a scene and at least briefly introduce the interaction of certain important characters, some readers will throw in the towel early on because they’re too easily bored without a nice gory murder or breathless bodice-ripping episode within the first few pages to (at least temporarily) rivet their attention.  Then, a few more chapters in, they’re bored anyway and criticize the author for not going into enough depth or character development.  One sees this play out in Goodreads or Amazon reviews rather frequently as a reader relates how a novel dwindled from an original five-star to a two-star assessment in his or her opinion.  Probably the only defense an author has towards getting readers to take a chance hinges on reviews that applaud what they perceive as the qualities of any given book.  That way, those that need the high drama reveal within the first few graphs are satisfied since they know that’s what is in store for them and those who like to savor a slower beginning are also ultimately satisfied.  Now, just how one obtains those reviews is another story!     


JMR- Mim, tell us about your new book, Muskrat Ramble. 

ME- As I’d mentioned previously, “Muskrat Ramble” is the sequel to my debut historical fiction novel, “A Sparrow Alone” -- however, both books can be read as standalone works.  Rather surprisingly, quite a few readers have commented that they now wished to read “A Sparrow Alone” after having read the sequel first! 

      My book blurb reads: “Seamlessly threaded into the emerging hot jazz music scene that captured the hearts of music lovers in 1913 New Orleans, are the themes of the deadly tightening Jim Crow era, World War I and its aftermath of economic ills, political upheavals and epidemics, and the choices, heartbreaks and ultimate decisions of women of all races.  At its heart, however, “Muskrat Ramble” is the saga of a young woman’s unwavering devotion to the child she was forced to abandon at birth.” 

     Book cover reviews: “This tale of one woman’s harrowing personal odyssey through half a century is not a breezy read, but worth the journey.” – Wayne Turmel, Windy City Reviews


     “A must read for fans of historical fiction, New Orleans jazz, and strong characters who overcome impossible odds to survive in a world hostile to their gender, class and race.” – James A Ross, author of “Hunting Teddy Roosevelt”


      My opening sentences, attributed to my main fictional character, Hannah Owens Barrington, provide something of an overview as well:


    “One’s life is not at all like a book, I reasoned.  Things are never fully resolved, never fully wrapped up in nice tidy little stacks and neatly placed in the corner awaiting our leisurely perusal and analysis. We simply do our best to glue together the often-shredded pages of our fragmented chapters and arrange them in some kind of meaningful sequence.”


JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline? 

ME- I’m currently finishing writing a mystery/thriller that takes place in southern Indiana between 1968-1978, researching the offshoot from “Muskrat Ramble” as mentioned before, and testing the children’s market waters with several stories I’ve written for picture books to be offered with a few of my original kids’ tunes, that were written, recorded & released on cds a few years back. On the non-literary side, my acoustic folk quartet Trillium is finally getting to perform live once again – truly a joy to be out in the world playing music! 

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web. 

ME- My author website is: and my band site is:  Both “A Sparrow Alone” and “Muskrat Ramble” are available in both print and e-book formats via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and your favorite independent bookstore. I don’t know when you’re running this interview, but “A Sparrow Alone” is currently a print book Goodreads Giveaway through June 6, 2021. 

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t? 

ME- Both of my novels were released during Covid – “A Sparrow Alone” on April 15, 2020, and “Muskrat Ramble” on March 23, 2021.  Without the benefit of any live interaction via libraries, bookstores, author fests, book launches, etc., this entire experience has been quite frustrating.  I’d love to know how other authors have met these challenges. 

JMR-Thanks for a great chat, Mim. I especially enjoyed your thoughts on writing historical fiction! Readers, I know you want to get your hands on Mim's books, so I've included a link to Amazon below. Be sure to check it out.


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