AlCaponeAtTheBlancheHotel_550 (1)Please help me welcome Linda Pennell. She had given us a wonderful batch of trivia for you to experience, so come on in and enjoy.

1. What is fact/fiction
in Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel?

A. The Blanche Hotel has stood on Marion Street in downtown Lake City, FL since 1902.  It is home to the state’s first elevator.  Since Lake City, Florida’s Gateway City, is at the junction of major north/south and east/west highways, people traveling to points farther south have made Lake City their overnight stop since Florida became a travel destination at the turn of the last century.  Al Capone stayed overnight at the Blanche at least once in transit from Chicago to his Miami property.  While all other events and characters in the novel are fictional, but they are evocative of the era in which the historical part of the novel is set and of the darker side of north Florida’s history.  A link to the real Blanche:  and another

2. In chapter 1, a body goes down a sink hole. Does the sink hole really

A. Yes, as a matter of fact the Santa Fe River really does disappear underground at O’LenoState Park.  It resurfaces several miles farther southwest and joins
another river on its way to the Gulf.  Several years ago, a diver tried to
follow the river’s underground path, but he disappeared and his body never
resurfaced.  This was the germ that sparked chapter 1.  Here is a link
to pictures of the park and river:
and another’leno+state+park+photos

3. What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?

A. Well, most people are surprised to know that I have had close personal relationships with real live gangsters.  Sadly, they are youth who have become involved with street gangs, primarily Latin Kings and Crips.  Being a public school administrator isn’t just about teaching the three R’s and  meting out discipline.  It is also about trying to save kids from foolish, dangerous choices and from people who want to use them for evil.

4. What is your favorite activity, besides writing, of course?

A. Oh, that’s easy!  It’s singing with the Texas Master Chorale!  We have
sung in some really exciting venues:  Vespers service in San Marco in
Venice, High Mass at St Peter’s in the Vatican, and Lincoln Center.  We
are planning our third European trip as I write this.

Wow, wish I could sing.


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.
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 links:
From Soul Mate Publishing:  Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel  
Twitter: @LindaPennell