(Fictional) Murder in Montrose Park!

Georgetown resident Jane Stanton Hitchcock’s newest book “Mortal Friends” hit the bookstands this week. The saucy thriller takes place right here in Georgetown and has already ruffled a few feathers of the real life people who have fictional counterparts in the book. Is your doppelganger in there? Pick up a copy and find out.

Hitchcock will sit down at the Q&A Cafe July 9th, reserve a spot by calling 338-2000.

After the jump, an interview with Hitchcock covering Georgetown, money, and Henry James:

GM: Let’s get down to brass tacks: Which is better East Village or West Village?

Jane Stanton Hitchcock: Oh I’m an Upper East Side girl. I don’t know too much about the downtown.

GM: No I mean the East and West Village of Georgetown?

JSH: Oh, well Georgetown is Georgetown. We New Yorkers don’t do East and West, we do left or right, up or down.  When I first arrived in DC, I was totally lost and couldn’t find anything unless it was on or off Wisconsin Avenue.

So what’s the split between the East Village and West Village in Georgetown?

GM: Wisconsin Avenue.

JSH: Well I’m on Q St. right across from Bob Woodward, what does that make it?

GM: That’s the East Village.

JSH: I set one of the murders near there in Montrose Park. In the woods back down the slope. I was walking my dog back there one time and it occurred to me that it would be a perfect place for a murder. It’s spooky. It’s just so isolated back there, nobody would see you.

GM: Right now Washington is getting called hot and trendy by all the types of people who use phrases like “hot and trendy” and your book is coming out in the middle of that, was that planned?

JSH: Absolutely not planned. Actually, it started out as a New York novel. It was going to be the third in a series of books revolving around my character Jo Slater in my book “Social Crimes”. My publisher encouraged me not to do that. He said, “you’re at a new house, you should write a new character.” So I started writing about Washington.

GM: When did you move to Washington?

JSH: 1996. That was before all the New York pretensions came to DC. It was a much sleepier one-horse-town back then. Then it started to get gentrified. It’s amazing. No matter how much money and power somebody might have, they still can get incredibly irate about the most petty things: where they sit at a party, etc. But the thing is, here in Washington these petty feuds can have national and global consequences. As I say in the book “life is high school with wrinkles”.

A similar thing happened before with my book the Witches’ Hammer. People came up to me and said it was just like the Da Vinci Code, but my book was written 10 years before the Da Vinci Code. So you just never can time these things perfectly.

GM: Do you think Georgetown’s glory has faded?

JSH: I think the old Georgetown set died with Katherine Graham. There’s no “presiding eye” anymore. There are millions of presiding eyes, it’s the Internet. But now it’s much freer. In terms of real estate, it’s still a very desirable place because of all the gingerbread cuteness of the place. It really is a postcard in the winter with all the decorations.

But back in the day it was different. As I write in the book, if those girls didn’t like you, even God couldn’t help you. Back then congressmen couldn’t fly back home very easily, so social life congregated in little pockets here in Washington. But now they all go home every weekend. As my friend says, it’s a very Tuesday-Thursday town now.

GM: According to your website, on your bed stand is Washington Square by Henry James. In that book, a man lies and pretends to love a woman so that he can get at her money. Your current books has a new money socialite doing bad things. Do you feel that seeking or having money brings out anything but the worst in people?

JSH: I think money makes you more of what you are. If you’re greedy, you’ll be more so. But I love Washington Square because it is a perfect psychological study of three people.

GM: Do you sympathize with the character Catherine Sloper who is fooled into loving Morris Townsend or with her father, Dr. Sloper, who sees through Townsend’s lies but can’t convince Catherine?

JSH: Washington Square is a story about a man who has a beautiful wife who dies giving birth to a mediocre daughter. He is tortured by the fact that he lost his wife for this daughter that he doesn’t love as much. So he wants to deprive her of the happiness that she deprived him of, so he sabotages her.

GM: So you’re not sympathetic to him?

JSH: Oh, no not at all. I love this interview. A literary question!

GM: Getting back to Georgetown, what is your least favorite part of Georgetown?

JSH: Hmmm, I don’t know. I guess I hate it when they park in front of my driveway!

GM: Where are you getting your groceries now that Safeway is gone?

JSH: I go to Fresh Fields and then the Giant up Wisconsin.

GM: You really have been here a while, you still call it its old name.

JSH: Oh really, what is it called now?

GM: It’s called Whole Foods now.

JSH: Oh, I didn’t know that.

GM: And I think it was a Bread and Circus before it was Fresh Fields.

JSH: Really? That sounds like fun.

GM: Do you ever shop at Sarahs?

JSH: Oh yes absolutely. I love it there. I also love Griffin Market. Everything there is just so marvelous. Everything’s been hand selected. I recommended to him a certain tea and he said he’d have to try it out first before offering it! Everything’s been tested so you know it’s all wonderful. It’s a great place to stop by and get a dinner when you don’t feel like cooking.

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