Thursday, December 10, 2020

My Six Favorite Podcasts on History

 The other day I spotted this post on Facebook: “I’ve never ever listened to a podcast, I don’t understand why anyone does.” I immediately felt sorry for this person. I’ve had so MANY hours of entertainment, diversion, education, enlightenment, and amusement via podcasts.

This engrossing podcast will take your mind off everything else--I promise!


All day I’m reading, writing, and editing, working on both novels and on a nonprofit website. After this, at night my eyes are shot; I can’t read anymore. Yes, there’s watching TV or listening to music. (I’m enjoying my latest mystery series discovery, the Sicilian “Detective Montalbano" on amazon.) But a quality podcast really diverts and restores me. I have a hunch many of you like listening to shows about history too, so I’m eager to share my list:

These are my Top Six Choices:

1.   “In Our Time.” Hosted by Melvyn Bragg; BBC. The list of topics covered in this podcast is breathtaking. It’s very hard for me to pick my favorites, but among the standouts are shows on the Gin Craze, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Coffee, Agrippina the Younger, Holbein at the Court of Henry VIII, The Waste Land, Macbeth, King Tut, and Beethoven.

2. “You Must Remember This.” Written, produced, and narrated by Karina Longworth. I’ve had a challenging year, as many of you know. But I’ve been pulled through a stressful night more than once by these engrossing podcasts on the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century. I particularly enjoyed her series on MGM History, Fact Checking Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon, and Six Degrees of Joan Crawford.

3. “Revolutions.” Written and narrated by Michael Duncan. I like the perspective and edge of these podcasts on history’s most significant revolutions, particularly the Russian one.

4. “The Bowery Boys.”  Hosted by Greg Young and Tom Meyers. This lively podcast brings New York City history to life. The Gilded Age and Coney Island episodes were of course pretty relevant to my novel Dreamland. Really fun!

5. “Hardcore History.” Hosted by Dan Carlin. Dan is an emotional podcaster, and his programs go longer than most, but I found both his World War I series and his Japan series unforgettable.

6  “Our Fake History.” Produced by Sebastian Major. These shows uncover the “real” stories behind everyone from Cleopatra to Richard the Lionhearted to Nostradamus. Great debunking!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My Christmas Ghost Story

Last year I wrote a mystery set in New York City in December 1912 that revolves around a young Irish American widow named Helen O'Neill. It's a tale with a ghostly element, and that's something I've wanted to do for years--write a Christmas ghost story.

I'd like to share some reviews:

"The Gilded Age splendors of the Morgan Library come to life in this wonderful, warm-hearted tale of Christmases past, present, and future. Bilyeau weaves a wealth of gorgeous period detail into her ghost story of old New York, delivering genuine chills, family drama, and poignant romance with equal skill. A gorgeous holiday treat!"
—Mariah Fredericks, author of Death of a New American

"All the characters are poignantly human, and their social and cultural backgrounds add rich shadings to their actions. The warmhearted theme of second chances is well balanced with the mysteriousness of the woman’s identity, which Helen gets in trouble trying to uncover. Add a touch of Irish magic to the plot—Helen’s unusual dexterity with her hands reminded her late mother and husband of the aes sidhe—and you have an entrancing ghost story with a touching message."
--Sarah Johnson, Reading the Past

"An enchanting story of the newly rising immigrants and the wealthy of old New York which you can read as quickly as you'd watch a film of The Christmas Carol and will also leave you feeling lovely. Has the author reinvented the much-adored annual Christmas novella? Curl up for an hour or so with a cup of something lovely and read The Ghost of Madison Avenue this season." -- Stephanie Cowell, author of Marrying Mozart

The ebook is priced at 99 cents for one week, up until December 15th. And it is available as a paperback as well--making it an excellent stocking stuffer. You can order the book by clicking here.