Help me escape this nightmare! You feel the same way, don’t you? We’ve been stuck inside our homes for two months now and we can’t wait to get out. If you’re like me, one of the people at high risk for getting infected with Covid-19, your stay indoors may last longer.
Where is this idyllic place? According to my coaster from a Margaritaville restaurant in Myrtle Beach: It’s in the tropics somewhere between the Port of Indecision and Southwest of Paradise. You don’t even need a boat to get there. Just let your mind carry you.
So play Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, fix a margarita with or without salt, retreat outdoors, prop your feet up, close your eyes and imagine you’re on a beach somewhere without a care in the world.
All of us have been dealing with the effects of the Coronavirus, some more than others. I recently watched a featured story on television about another pandemic called Yellow Fever. The story made me think about a historical fiction novel I read recently on that very subject. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share it with you. Below you will see my interview with the author, Dennis Carrigan. You can get your copy of MEMPHIS 1873 on Amazon.
What inspired you to write MEMPHIS 1873? A few years ago, I became interested in my ancestry. My last grandparent had passed away when I was three, so I began with him. I discovered he was born in Memphis in the spring of 1873, and my research into that period turned up some people and events so compelling that I was moved to write this novel.
The story centers around the lives of three characters. Tell us about them. It is the story of JP Mahoney, 14-year-old farm boy who dreams of escape from tedious chores and farm life routine. It is the story of a courageous young woman, Ginnie Moon, onetime Confederate spy, who now operates a boarding house for men who have survived the war. And it is the story of Kevin O’Boyle, an embittered riverfront laborer, who blames the world for his troubles, and finds the crippled city his perfect prey.
Some of the characters are based on actual historical figures. Tell us about them. During the Civil War, Ginnie Moon, at the age of seventeen, became a Confederate spy. She used her beauty, charm and intelligence to run circles around the Union forces.
Cap’n Jim lee was owner of a fleet of riverboats on the Mississippi River.
Judge “Pappy” Hadden meted out his own particular brand of justice.
One-Arm Lew Brown, First Mate of Lee’s riverboat, the Phil Allen, was “the meanest bastard on the river.”
The story is framed by an epidemic of Yellow Fever. Like our current pandemic of Covid-19, Yellow Fever killed thousands and affected all levels of society. What made Yellow Fever of 1873 so dangerous for the people of Memphis? It was invisible, lethal, and unstoppable. At the time, no one knew what caused the disease, how it was transmitted, why it equally afflicted the young and old, the strong and weak. There’s an addendum at the end of the book that explains the history and nature of the disease.
This is a historical fiction novel, but you have also written a quirky crime novel, UNUSUAL SUSPECTS. Do you enjoy writing in different genres? I’m more interested in characters – even minor ones. A story’s not worth reading if you don’t have an emotional attachment to the characters. How do they feel? What will they do next? Sometimes they surprise me, do something I didn’t expect. I love that.
Hemingway is credited with saying, “Write drunk, edit sober.” According to his granddaughter, Mariel, he never said it or used the practice.
Although when writing, I drink water, not wine, I get it. Writing the first draft is the party where all the fun takes place. Editing is cleaning up the mess left behind. I admit, sometimes it feels like a hangover.
To me, creating the story and characters from scratch is the best part of writing. I just finished the draft of my upcoming suspense novel, ROCK BOTTOM.
Editing is what I am working on now. It is with no doubt the hardest part of writing. Each sentence, and sometimes individual words, must be scrutinized to make sure they convey what is intended. Any unnecessary words or scenes get deleted. I am constantly going back and forth verifying the consistency of details like a minor character’s name, a description of vehicle, time and place of event, etc. Fortunately, I also have some help, a few super talented writers editing and critiquing my work.
Soon, my suspense novel, ROCK BOTTOM, will be published. I am glad that some of my main characters like Detective Colt Jessup will remain with me in future books as part of a new series. I feel sure you will love this character as much I do. He is a street-smart cop who doesn’t always play by the rules. At great risk to himself, he manages to solve crimes others cannot.