Forms of Things Unknown

Recently returned to Chicago after a successful tour of Hamlet, Lillian Nolan is awakened in the dead of night by a strange voice. She is shocked to learn that well known and admired actress, Louise Hawthorne, has fallen to her death from the sixth floor of the Tremont House. Was it an accident? Did she jump or was she pushed? Louise’s former lover, and the main suspect, pleads with Lillian to uncover the truth and clear his name.
In the process of learning to trust her intuitive abilities, Lillian attempts to find balance between relying upon her gift and uncovering the truth in her own way. But the menace of death pursues her and soon her own life is at risk. When she finds herself in a trap from which she cannot escape, her only hope of survival is to call upon the metaphysical world.
Forms of Things Unknown is based on an actual event which occurred in June of 1876 in Chicago. It is the third standalone book in the Backstage Mystery Series.

Tagline: Life upon the wicked stage can be deadly.
Set against the backdrop of the Gilded Age, the Backstage Mystery Series stars Lillian Nolan, an unconventional member of Chicago’s upper class who dreams of a career of fortune and fame in the theater. Talented and ambitious, she possesses a hidden skill which she is extremely reluctant to use—the ability to communicate with those who have died and now live in the world of “The Beyond.”
The series chronicles her adventures in which she continually becomes enmeshed in solving mysteries which often require her accessing the realm of the paranormal. Filled with an incredible cast of characters—factual, fictional, and sometimes non-physical—who either help or hinder her quest for the truth, the stories take place during a period considered to be the golden age of both acting and spiritualism in America.
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Author Bio –
Elizabeth Ireland discovered her passion for theater early. After receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in Theater, she accepted a teaching position in a vibrant performing arts department at a college in northern Illinois. For ten years, she taught, directed and ran front-of-house operations. American Theater History—particularly that of the 19th century—has always been of particular interest to her.
She has been a quarter-finalist and a semi-finalist for the Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowship in screenwriting sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Two of her screenplays have been optioned, but remain unproduced. Her nonfiction work, Women of Vision: Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives, was published in 2008. Her work has also been published in a collection of paranormal short stories, Paramourtal: Tales of Undying Love and Loving the Undead. She lives in metro Atlanta with her ever-patient husband, and two quirky dachshunds.
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Forms of Things Unknown – Book Three

The Backstage Mystery Series

By Elizabeth Ireland

Excerpt for:


In the summer of 1876, Lillian Nolan, actress and reluctant sleuth, is asked by rising star James O’Neill to investigate the death of Louise Hawthorne, an actress with whom he was having an affair:

I heard the doors behind me open and muffled footsteps as someone walked down the aisle and stopped next to me. I opened my eyes and looked up. James O’Neill was standing there, hat in hand. I sat up in my seat. “May I join you?” he asked.

My first thought was what could he want? I shook it off and smiled up at him. “Of course, Jimmy.”

He sat in the chair one seat away from me, placing his hat on the seat between us.

Action had stopped on stage. I looked up and my attention was drawn to Anne Reed who stood on stage left. She seemed to be staring right at us. Then she gestured to Edward and he walked over to her. He spoke to her while she continued to stare in our direction. There was a look of disapproval on her face. Then she turned and quickly went off into the wings. Edward turned, clapped his hands, and got everyone back to order in the scene.

I raised an eyebrow at Jimmy. Was Anne another one of his conquests? Teasingly, I asked, “What have you done, Jimmy?”

He went absolutely pale and I immediately regretted my remark. I turned to him. “What did I say?”

“Lillian, I had nothing to do with what happened to Louise.”

I was shocked. “Of course not! The thought never crossed my mind!”

“Well, it’s crossed the mind of a lot of others. They are dead wrong of course, but public opinion—”

“I am so sorry.” And I did feel sorry for him.

Theater people can at times be completely self-centered and self-absorbed—often unable to look at life through anyone else’s perspective. All too often my colleagues in the theater are willing to misinterpret the facts and then take them as truth. Paradoxically, there are no people who can be more generous, more supportive or more talented.

A prime example of this happened only yesterday. I went to speak to Regina about Grandmother’s party. I found her sitting in the house watching rehearsal. I wanted to let her know about the arrangements for the baseball game and what time we were to meet at the 23rd Street Campgrounds. I sat next to her and we had a short conversation. Then she was called onstage. Shortly thereafter, I went backstage to the green room and there I found a group of actors in a hushed conversation which immediately ended when I entered the room. The subject matter was quickly changed and so I picked up my wrap and left. It was only later that Regina informed me that that same group had come to her to complain that they had observed me sitting with her and were aware that I was criticizing their performance during the rehearsal and were quite angry with me. It was Regina who had to straighten them out—that our conversation had had nothing whatsoever to do with them or their work. Had it been left unaddressed, however, it could have escalated to all kinds of mayhem on stage. Instead, while no one ever apologized for the misunderstanding, those involved became extremely polite to me! I knew Jimmy was now asking for the same understanding and consideration.

“Lillian, please hear me out. I heard about how you…discovered the person responsible for Phillip Kincaid’s murder.”

I nodded slowly. That had been a painful experience, especially hurtful to Regina. I lowered my voice and leaned in toward him.

“That was unfortunate for all involved. It’s not something I want to revisit.”

“Very well. But I came here to ask for your help,” he said.

“Me? Help you?” I was astounded.

“As you can see.” He nodded in the direction in which Anne had disappeared. “People think I had something to do with Louise’s death.”

I paused. “Is that why she…how is that possible?”

He looked around to see if anyone was near and then he lowered his voice. “Well, we were a little bit more than friends, if you take my meaning.”

This was no secret to me, and, I thought, to many others in the theatrical community.

He whispered very quietly, “And well, the worst of it is, I saw her last night.”

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