Greetings all. Its been a long lovely week of edits and reading. Time to take a break and welcome a talented new author, Ms. Linda Bennett Pennell. We’re lucky to get a glimpse of her unique story, Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel. Its really an exciting read.
Let’s meet Linda…
What inspired you to become a writer?
I came to fiction early and late. My first true creative writing experience was senior year of high school in Miss Miller’s English IV class. She was masterful in teaching writing and about life. Thank you, Miss Miller, wherever you are. BUT, when I got to college, I was sidetracked with all the expository writing required of a history major. Grad school only compounded the problem. About five years ago, I decided that I had put off the creativity far too long and came back full circle to fiction.
Are you a plotter or panster?
I think I might best be described as a plotter with panster tendencies. I have the big picture in my head before I start writing. I may even make a brief, annotated outline, but the scene-by-scene details work themselves out as the story develops on the page. For me, this allows the best of both worlds. Having an overall plan supports creativity by providing a launching pad for my story. Not being too focused on following a preconceived outline keeps the ideas flowing.
At what age did you write your first novel?
There are some things a lady just does not reveal or discuss in public. 🙂
What is the most romantic place you’ve ever been?
This one is really a hard one! There are so many beautiful destinations in the world and I have been fortunate enough to see my fair share of them. If I have to pick one, I guess it would be Geiranger Fijord, Norway. We drove all one late October day over narrow rugged mountains roads with dizzying inclines and descents to get there. On the final descent to the little hamlet of Geiranger, the car was so vertical we couldn’t see its nose, but the scenery was breathtaking – misty mountains dropping in sheer cliffs down to crystal clear water seemingly without bottom. Our hotel was all but deserted as it was to close down for winter the next week, which meant the management was emptying out the very well stocked larder. Great hotel, wonderful food, and seclusion in a fairytale setting with the guy you love. Does it get anymore romantic than that?
Name your favorite real-life hero or fictional hero… How have they influenced your life?
My heroes tend to be from real life. I am old enough (just barely, of course) to remember what life was like before women were accorded equal status with men. Women like Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkle, Hillary Clinton and others in leadership positions from all walks of life light the path for young women yet to come and demonstrate what is possible for those of us still striving. As you can see, political persuasion means less to me than accomplishment.
Name your favorite books from childhood and adulthood.
From childhood, I suppose fairy tales meant as much to me as anything. I especially loved the stories of Snow White and Cinderella. After all, what little girl doesn’t want to be a princess? As a teen and young adult, I discovered gothic romance and mysteries. I read everything I could get my hands on by Victoria Holt, Daphne Du Maurier, Agatha Christy, Dorothy L. Sayers, and the like. I’m a complete Anglophile, as you can see. I guess I skipped completely over middle grade and young adult fiction as a child. The first YA novels I read were as a professional reading specialist attending Columbia University’s Children and Young Adult Literature Seminars. As an adult, I read romance, mysteries, historicals, and women’s fiction for the most part with the occasional departure into literary fiction. So far, if I had to select one title as a favorite, I suppose it would be Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Love that medieval intrigue!
What’s your astrological sign? Do you fit the characteristics associated with it? How?
I am a Sagittarian. I can’t say whether I fit the mold or not as I hate labels. I find them rather confining and that doesn’t sit well with my tendencies to claustrophobia.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned from your journey as a writer?
Because my other professional life can be very stressful, I find writing to be an act of great joy. Even dealing with rejection hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would be. I suppose the hardest lesson probably has to do with patience. When you have lived a type “A” professional life, accepting that there are some things in the publishing industry over which the writer has never had nor ever will have control can be maddening at times.
Favorite Color: green
Favorite Actor/Actress: Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson (More Anglophilia!)
Favorite Movie: Sense and Sensibility (big shock there, huh?)
Favorite century and why?: 18th. While I don’t write about that period, I love anything set during that time, especially if it is set in England. I’ve been in love with the past as long as I can remember. I even majored in it in college. My BA is in US and English history, a completely useless degree, but boy did I have fun learning.
Favorite Food: Can I say all? No? Okay, then . . . hm. I hate to be pedestrian, but I’m afraid I’m a rather serious carnivore. My husband makes the best grilled steak you’ve ever tasted, so I guess I’ll go with that since I prevail upon him to grill at least once per week. YUM!
Least favorite vegetable: Beets and turnips – YUCK!
First boyfriend/How old?/Why did you like him?: John in second grade – he was cute, but he was the bad boy of the class. My mother was horrified. Why are girls attracted to the bad boys?
Describe yourself in 5 words: I dread questions like this because I never know quite what to say, but here goes. Happy because we are expecting our first grandchild (August 17) and the release of my debut novel (July 10) this summer. Mature enough to know better and young enough not to care. Persistent when I really want something. Most importantly, I hope that I am as good to all those special people I am lucky enough to have in my life as they are to me.
Here’s the fantastic cover…
And the blurb…
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
the 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
So intriguing, Linda.
Where to find Ms. Pennell and her new release…
Thank you Linda.
Please check back in a few days, Linda will be doing a guest blog here.