Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.
Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan's self-righteous vigilantism. Jack's older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.
Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.
“Jack Blevins, where have you been? It’s after midnight.” Meg grabbed her little brother’s arm and pulled him through her bedroom window. “If Daddy finds out, he’ll skin you alive.”
“Well, he ain’t gonna lests you tell him.” Jack hit the floor with a thump. “Man, I’m glad to be home.”
Meg’s eyebrows rose. “That’s sure new. Mama says you stay gone as much as you can get away with these days.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Jack kicked at the edge of the rag rug beside his sister’s bed. “If I’d known you was coming home, I’d of stayed around.”
“Nice to know you haven’t gone completely wild.”
Jack grinned at Meg and winked. “Not yet, but you never know. It could happen any day now. At least that’s what Mama says.” As he picked a thorn out of his elbow, he became quietly thoughtful. His words turned halting when he spoke again. “Meg, you ain’t gonna believe what me and Zeke seen at the sinkhole.”
Linda, thanks so much for stopping by. So, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you for inviting me! I’ve been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything old holds a special place in my heart. No doubt it was probably all those summers spent on my grandmother’s porch or winters around her fireplace listening to the older members of my large, extended family tell stories. Since those stories were set in the South, they were peopled by some very interesting and eccentric characters, some of whom surreptitiously make their way into my writing.
How did you get started writing?
I must credit my high school senior English teacher with planting the seed to write creatively, but college and a major is history turned my writing in another direction. After a career in public education, I have come full circle back to where I started. I love the freedom that creative, as opposed to expository, writing allows. In other words, the creative process is a lot more fun!
What was the inspiration for your book?
When my family moved to Lake City, Florida, the book’s historical setting, we stayed at the Blanche for several nights. In the years that followed, we ate many Sunday dinners after church in the hotel restaurant. Those experiences sparked my interest in the hotel’s history.
What’s the one genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?
I have a character in mind for a contemporary detective series, but I haven’t yet given it the time a series needs.
Are there any genres you won’t read or write in? Why?
I’m not really fond of erotica. I prefer some things left to the imagination. It’s far more sensual that way!
So, what are you working on right now? Got any releases planned, or still writing?
I’m working on a WWII historical set in Casablanca. And no, Rick’s American Bar is not in it, but another hotel, the Anfa, is a prominent feature. I’m struggling with a title. My husband pointed out that I have a hotel theme going, but I just don’t know. Somehow FDR at the Anfa Hotel just doesn’t have the same ring as Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel.
Alright, now for some totally random, fun questions. Favorite color?
Green. It’s the color of nature - quiet, calm, and soothing.
Favorite movie? The Emma Thompson adaptation of Sense and Sensibility.
Book that inspired you to become an author?
There are too many to name just one. I have read all of the early Victoria Holts, Daphne Du Maurier, P.D. James, Agatha Christy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ellis Peters, etc. I seem to have a British fetish going. Anglophilia anyone?
You can have dinner with any 3 people, dead, alive, fictitious, etc. Who are they?
I would love to have dinner with Marten Lauridsen, composer of deeply spiritual beautiful music, Julian Fellowes (I'm addicted to Downton Abbey), and Alan Rickman, very versatile actor.
I love singing Lauridsen's choral music. Downton Abbey is the only TV show that I work my schedule around. Alan Rickman has been in some of my favorite movies, most especially Sense and Sensibility.
Last question: Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
I suppose I am most like Meg, the hotel waitress. Her character traits are loosely based on my mother and mother-in-law who were both young women during the Great Depression, the era in which Meg’s story is set. Meg’s fear of poverty and striving for independence that nearly cause her to lose the love of her life are reflections of the mark that the Depression left on those who lived through it. The Depression left its mark on my mother who transmitted some of her experience to me as her child.
Linda will be awarding a $15 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. So the more you comment, the better your chances of winning.
October 3: The Hedonistic Minimalist
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October 17: Room With BooksPROMO ONLY
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November 21:It's Raining Books
November 28:Sharing Links and Wisdom
December 5: Kit 'N Kabookle
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December 12 SECOND STOP: Mommasez...
December 19: Straight from the Library
January 2: Welcome to My World of Dreams
January 9: Booklover Sue
January 16: Dalene's Book Reviews
Author Bio and Links:
I have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother's porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, "Let's pretend."
I reside in the Houston area with one sweet husband, one German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl, and one striped yellow cat who knows she’s queen of the house.
Favorite quote regarding my professional passion: "History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up." Voltaire
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