K.M. Pohlkamp

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    Richard White

    K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife to the love of her life, proud mother of two young children, and a NASA Mission Control flight controller. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her debut novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, was awarded the prestigious Editor’s Choice designation by the Historical Novel Society among other accolades and awards. The unpredictable tale follows a female poison assassin in Tudor England and the sequel releases fall 2019.

    You can Follow her at:

    Website: K.M. Pohlkamp

    Twitter: @kmpohlkamp

    Facebook: KMPohlkamp



    Hi Historical Fiction Lovers! Thank you for visiting my virtual booth. Who’s ready to talk some histfic?

    I’m going to start out with a book recommendation. I absolutely love The Greenest Branch by P.K. Adams. This novel follows the tale of Germany’s first female physician. You can learn more about the book here: https://kmpohlkamp.com/2018/09/28/book-review-the-greenest-branch/



    Many of the herbs used in medieval Germany for healing can also be used for… less righteous means. My own novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, follows a female poison assassin in Tudor England. The novel was named an “Editors’ Choice Selection” by the Historical Novel Society, among other accolades.

    Check out the book trailer at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hm9N_A8sJEU

    Learn more at: https://kmpohlkamp.com/apricots-and-wolfsbane/


    Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies, to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Her morbid desires are balanced with faith since she believes confession erases the sin of murder, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

    At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge against her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

    With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder, but the betrayals are just beginning.



    When Do I Have Time to Write? 

    As a full-time working mother of two, the most frequent question I get asked by my friends and family is: When do you have time to write?

    It is amazing how much progress can be made one hour at a time.  Thankfully, my children are still young so they go to bed fairly early. I also take advantage of nap time during the weekends.

    My husband is an avid runner and goes on long training runs at night which means the house is a quiet place to create. He is training hard to qualify for the Boston Marathon and his dedication to his hobby is inspiring. He probably spends more hours a week running than I write.

    Between our hobbies, my husband and I have learned that you make time for the things you love, and most importantly, that includes family.



    I am not a herbalist. Writing Apricots and Wolfsbane required a TON of research. Here are some of my favorite historical fiction research resources you can explore from the comfort of your couch 🙂

    My Favorite Historical Research Resources



    For more writing tips, here’s how I scrub my first drafts for my most common errors: https://kmpohlkamp.com/2018/03/29/my-worst-writing-bad-habits-using-find-replace-to-scrub-the-first-draft/



    Here’s another book recommendation: https://kmpohlkamp.com/2019/03/14/book-review-the-serpent-and-the-eagle/

    The Serpent and the Eagle is an emotional journey through the eyes of a Mexica King, conquistadors, a slave girl, and so many more caught in the Spanish hunger for gold. Dramatizing the landing of Cortez in the New World, the novel follows his social maneuvering with natives to obtain riches. Each chapter changes the narrator’s POV allowing the reader to also experience the anxiety the “pale ones” bring to native Mexica. As a result, the tension in this book is created from mental turmoil rather than militaristic campaigns, which I thoroughly enjoyed.



    Apricots and Wolfsbane was also inspired by a real-life historical figure: Locusta. Little is known about her, the world’s first serial killer, which is perhaps why accounts of Locusta’s death are . . . eccentric?

    Here’s what we do know: Locusta hailed from Gaul, the outer province of Ancient Rome now known as France. Trained in herbs, she mastered the system of “patronage” and made a name for herself as a reliable assassin – or as Dr. Katherine Ramsland calls Locusta’s business, “necro-entrepreneur.” [1] To Locusta’s benefit, Rome brimmed with wealthy, would-be-patrons, eager to hasten the death of rich relatives. These clients also reliably bailed Locusta out of prison when events didn’t unfold per plan.

    In AD 54, Empress Agrippina, the fourth wife—and niece—of Emperor Claudius, grew tired of her uncle/husband. She conspired with Locusta to murder Claudius in order to place her son from a previous marriage, Nero, on the throne. The Emperor, however, proved a challenging mark. Not only was he armed with taste testers, he also had a ghastly habit of vomiting each meal by tickling his throat with a feather in order to indulge again—a quirk which limited the time any poison could act.

    But Claudius’ habit was not a challenge for Locusta’s ingenuity. Undercover, Locusta managed to avert the taste tester and serve the Emperor death cap mushrooms, likely flavored with aconite.[2] When symptoms of poisoning appeared, Agrippina gave Claudius a feather to purge the poison, but Locusta had laced that as well.

    Suffering, the Emperor called for his personal physician, Xenophon, whom the devious women also had in their pocket. So when Xenophon gave Claudius a healing enema, he added poison to the mix as well. Claudius suffered a heinous death and eventually perished on October 13.

    While Locusta was subsequently imprisoned in AD 55, Nero sought to secure his throne by contracting Locusta to craft a poison to murder Claudius’ son, Britannicus. When the concoction failed initial tests, Nero flogged Locusta with his own hands.[5] Motivated, her second attempt succeeded and the pair was ready for Britannicus.

    During Roman times, it was customary to dilute wine with hot water. Britannicus was served wine that was too hot and when he called for cold water, Locusta’s poison was secretly waiting in the pitcher.

    Upon Britannicus’s death, Nero bestowed Locusta with pardons, lands, lavish gifts, and condemned prisoners for experimentation. He also sent pupils to study with the poison master.

    But all good things come to an end. In AD 68, the Roman Senate tired of Nero’s rogue practices and the Emperor took his own life with a dagger before facing punishment. The Senate’s attention then turned towards Locusta, and without protection from the Emperor, she was convicted with an execution sentence.

    Some accounts say Locusta was smeared with vaginal juices of a female giraffe, raped by a specially trained male giraffe, and then torn apart by wild animals. [1] While that tale tantalizes the imagination, it is more likely she was led through the city in chains and executed by human hands.

    I first came across Locusta’s story last fall, struck by the statement the world’s first serial killer was a woman. Even as a modern, non-traditional gal, it contradicted my expectation. My mind pondered what had motivated a female from Gaul to pursue such violence. What possessed Locusta to reach so far beyond expectation, to fulfill her sadistic cravings with poison? Where would she have learned her craft? How would she have honed the alchemy? The musings manifested in my historical fiction thriller, Apricots and Wolfsbane.

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