People are sometimes surprised when they find out that I wrote a work of historical fiction entitled Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. I suppose they expect a woman of a certain age to be writing Regencies or some other more traditional form of romance. But they would be wrong, because my work does not fit that mold. While romances play an important role in all of my stories, love is life after all, the relationships are not the driving force behind the premises. I'm glad someone came up with the term "with romantic elements"! When folks get to know me, they discover that I have had relationships with real gangsters through my work as a secondary school assistant principal, but that has no relation to my writing. I wrote Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel because I had some themes I wanted to explore. The Deep South is a place of great contradictions. Our reputation for friendliness, courtesy, and hospitality is known around the world, yet so many painful, inhumane things have happened in our midst. Writing about this dichotomy was cathartic for this child of the South. The fact that I once lived in Lake City, Florida and stayed at the Blanche provided the vehicle for my exploration. Knowing Capone really stayed at the Blanche sealed the deal. I wanted a catchy title and Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel fit the bill.
When the cover of Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel scrolled into view for the first time, my heart actually did a little flip. I think it was the combination of the gangster's sexy eyes and seeing my vision come to life. From the beginning, I knew I didn't want the traditional romance cover of an embracing couple because my plot involved so much more than the romantic relationships in the novel's two timelines. I also wanted something that would represent the Blanche and Capone. I asked the cover artist to create a snapshot of a gangster that looked like it was printed in 1930, then superimpose it over a picture of the hotel. Fiona Jayde, the artist, went one step further by adding a photograph of the current day Jacksonville, Florida river front in the background. Initially I didn't understand why she chose Jacksonville when the story is set in Lake City and Gainesville, but then it dawned on me. A pivotal moment for Liz, my modern heroine, takes place in Jacksonville. The choice now seems inspired.
My two female main characters are dear to my heart because they are loosely based on women in my own life. My modern timeline heroine, Liz, is a rock star in her professional life, but her personal life is a disaster. She is intelligent, innovative, productive - everything she should be and more as a university professor and researcher. Sadly, she has an unfortunate personal tick when it comes to her romantic relationships. She is drawn to glamourous bad boys. Perhaps you have known women like this? I have some friends who fit this mold. Watching these accomplished women make poor romantic choices and get hurt time after time makes my head spin. Why, oh, why girls, do you do it? I can't change my friends or make their choices for them, but I can with my characters. Liz let me make life turn out as it should, not how it usually does.
Meg, my 1930 heroine, is an homage to the strong women in my life who were young during the Great Depression. Despite the economic conditions and the discrimination women faced, my mother and my mother-in-law left the farm and managed to work their way through college. Several of my aunts did as well. The 1929 Wall Street Crash and its aftermath left their marks on these women, but they did not let circumstances beyond their control defeat them. They survived and went on to help win World War II from the home front. These women, and so many like them, are the unsung heroes of the 20th Century.
How about you? If you wanted to honor someone by making her a character in your story, who would it be and what part would you assign her?
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
Buy link: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5
Linda will be awarding a $15 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn host.