Linda Pennell is a talented author and big history buff. She’s also a southern gal who writes about southern locales. And today I am happy to welcome her to the blog, to talk about a couple of her books, “Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel” and “Confederado Norte”. And she has some big news too! Welcome, Linda!
Linda: Thank you. I am glad to be here and excited to share some great news.
Two Soul Mate historicals are going on sale for 99¢!!
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.
From Soul Mate Publishing: Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel
Take a look at the real Blanche Hotel and other actual locations featured in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel! https://www.pinterest.com/lindabennettpen/al-capone-at-the-blanche-hotel/
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family emigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the mountain wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately marrying the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem assured until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but this new crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she possesses simply to survive.
See scenes from Brazil and other locations featured in Confederado do Norte! https://www.pinterest.com/lindabennettpen/confederado-do-norte/
Linda, that is just awesome, those are great stories. And condratulations on “Confederao do Norte” taking an Honorable Mention with RONE Now, we like to ask nosy questions, to get to know the author beyond their work. Can we ask you a few?
Linda: Sure, fire away.
Ryan:How long did it take?
Linda: Unlike some of my fellow Soul Mate authors, I’m afraid I am rather slow with my writing. My goal is to produce one novel per year. Because I write historical fiction, I spend a lot of time on research, at least that is the excuse I give myself!
Ryan: Are you working on anything else right now?
Linda: Well actually, I am writing a sequel to Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel! It will feature my history of American crime professor, Liz Reams. This time, though, she is chasing associates of the infamous Meyer Lansky, a.k.a., the Mob’s Accountant and a founding member of Murder Incorporated, across Florida to Miami and on to Havana at the height of the Cuban Revolution!
Ryan: How do you beat procrastination? How do you beat writer’s block?
Linda: Although on the surface these may seem like separate issues, I believe that they are actually closely related. We put off writing because they are hard right now or because we have lost interest or because we have something more fun to do or because we think we have writer’s block. I’m not so sure that writer’s block really exists so much as it is a self-imposed state of mind brought about by lack of confidence and/or indecision. My grandmother, who by all accounts was a very talented seamstress, had the following to say about creative pursuits.
When you get frustrated with your project, put it down and go do something else for a while. Don’t think about your frustration with your project or what may be causing the problem – just forget about it. Give yourself time away and then return to the source of your frustration. Nine times out of ten, you will find that the solution to your problem has formed unconsciously while you were doing something else. I can’t promise miracles, but I can attest that this method certainly works for me!
Ryan: What is your favorite town/ city in the world? Why?
Linda: Oh, wow, this is hard!! If I can only choose one, I think it would have to be London. My BA is in US and English history, so time spent in London a deeply rich, historical experience for me. I’m basically a castles and cathedrals type of traveller and the UK has sooooo much to offer in that respect!
Ryan: Yes, I love castle and cathedrals too. How did you meet your spouse/ significant other?
Linda: My husband and I attended the same high school in a small Florida town, but because I moved there when he was a mighty senior and quarterback for the football team, we didn’t really run in the same circles. Later during our college years, attending different schools, a mutual hometown friend suggested that we might like one another. And the rest is, of course, history. We’ve been married for 46 years.
Ryan: Congratulations, that’s great. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do? Would you keep your day job (if you have one?)
Linda: I’m afraid I would be rather boring and practical. First, I would set up trusts for the children and grandchildren, then I would make charitable contributions to local arts organizations, educational foundations, and churches which have long term family connections. I am retired, but I do keep being called back to work on long term contracts. If I won the lottery that would change because after all of the practical matters were addressed I would travel more before time and energy give out!
Ryan: Nothing wrong with being practical. What is your favorite past time?
Linda: Aside from writing, I would say choral music. I sing in two choirs: our church chancel choir and the Texas Master Chorale.
Ryan: Would you rather have the ability to be invisible or have x-ray vision?
Linda: My goodness, invisible, of course. Just think of all that you could peek in on if no one knew you were there. I’ve always wanted to be that proverbial fly on the wall!
Ryan: Yes, count me in as well. The things I’d probably hear. How do you like to spend a rainy day?
Linda: This is easy. It is raining as I write this. Reading and writing are the best rainy day activities!
Ryan: Do you know any foreign languages?
Linda: If I were a smart Alec, I would say, “Define know.” I took French in high school and college. Notice I didn’t say learned! I have a great grasp of the International Phonetic Alphabet and its application, but very little comprehension of what I am reading. I can “call words” in German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin. It comes from being a singer!
Ryan: Impressive. Which person do you admire most in life? Why?
Linda: I think I would have to say Winston Churchill. Not only do we share a birthday, but I truly believe he is a the major reason that the world is not living under the boot heal of National Socialism and Hitler’s successors. When the rest of the world was either defeated or not participating, he led the British people in standing firm against the greatest evil of the 20th century.
Ryan: That’s interesting. Okay, we’re at our speed round. Ready?
Linda: Sure am.
Ryan: Favorite food to cook?
Linda: Chicken piccata – it’s easy and looks and tastes far more complicated than it is!
Ryan: Favorite animal?
Ryan: Favorite color?
Linda: Aqua, the best of both blue and green!
Ryan: Lovely color. Favorite book?
Linda: To Kill a Mockingbird – not very original, I know, but there it is nonetheless.
Ryan: Hey, un-original or not, I like it too. Your favorite sport or physical activity?
Linda: Does walking in foreign or exotic locations count?
Ryan: Sure, why not? Favorite kind of music?
Linda: Classical, jazz, and anything from the 40’, 50’s, or 60’s.
Ryan: What makes you laugh?
Linda: I enjoy a dry, cleaver wit, not that I have one myself, mind you!
Ryan: Favorite season?
Linda: I adore fall – the colors, the nip in the air, the first frost, all of it! Unfortunately, I live in Houston where we have only two seasons: summer and not-summer.
Ryan: I love fall the most too. As we close out your visit, can you share a bit more about you, anything we haven’t already talked about?
Linda: 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 American 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 her or himself, Let’s pretend.”
Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.
Other ways to connect with Linda: Faceboook & Twitter
Linda, thank you for a wonderful visit and best wishes for a long success.