Interview with Ellen Mansoor Collier, author of Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play



Publish Date: July 1, 2012

Order From:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords

Synopsis: "Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but despite her mixed feelings she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life rival gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society.


Excerpt: Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don't usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story's really hot, then they'll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing.

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

"To what do I owe this disturbance?" I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. "I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?"

"What do you want?" I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn't see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. "You really want to discuss it here, out in public?"

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else's business.

"Let's go outside," I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal's office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. "Jazz, is everything jake?"

"Everything's berries." I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

"I remember him. Your boyfriend?" Burton seemed amused.

"He's the staff photographer." I ignored his crack. "And a good friend."

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.

"How was lunch?" In broad daylight, Burton didn't seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

"Fine." I covered my growling stomach. "What brings you here?"

"Sorry to barge in that way." He smiled, tugging on his hat. "But I had to get your attention. You wouldn't give me the time of day the other night."

"Can you blame me? A raid isn't exactly the best way to meet new people."

"I think we got off on the wrong foot." He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. "Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?"

"Dinner?" Was he serious? "Just like that?" I snapped my fingers. "You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You've got a lot of nerve, mister."

"I wouldn't be a Prohibition agent if I didn't." He looked smug. "How about tonight?" 


Author Interview: Q. Please tell us about your current release.

FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY   By Ellen Mansoor Collier

(Here’s my synopsis)

"Boardwalk Empire" meets "The Great Gatsby" in this soft-boiled historical mystery, inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the "Sin City of the Southwest." Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz, but despite her mixed feelings she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life rival gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society

Q. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Several factors came into play at once. On a trip to Chicago, we took a “Mobsters” tour of Al Capone’s stomping grounds and visited the famous Green Mill bar. In Galveston, I heard wild stories about the Maceos and some of their high-class speakeasies, like the Turf Club and the Hollywood Dinner Club, now long gone.  I became more intrigued when I found out there was a link between Capone and Galveston’s gangsters.  As a journalist, I prefer reality-based stories because I feel like I’m learning something new while I’m reading and researching.

Q. Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book?

I’m a magazine writer/editor in real life, and frankly I was getting tired of freelancing and constantly pitching ideas to new editors.  I wanted to produce work that was more permanent and not yesterday’s news. I tried to think of each chapter as an article and that helped me keep going forward.

Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about the book?

I wouldn’t listen to well-meaning suggestions on what to change or include or edit. I revised it so many times based on “advice,” that it began to lose its voice and originality.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Research. I really enjoyed researching all the history, people and places as well as the slang, but it really interfered with the writing. I found it hard to maintain the flow of writing when I constantly had to stop and look something up to make sure it was accurate. Often I’d get carried away and start reading unrelated period magazine and newspaper articles and go off on tangents because the information was so fascinating. Also since I wrote about real people, I had to be careful not to write anything too offensive or incriminating.

Dialogue was also a challenge because too much slang can sound corny and outdated. Certain words like “teen” weren’t in use until 1930, while other slang words were more common in the North than South. I tried to make my characters  sound authentic but not go overboard. Also I wanted to use terms that readers could understand in context, but some expressions were so colorful and fun that I wanted to include them anyway.

Q. Do you have a musical playlist you listen to when writing? If so, what kind of music?

I really like listening to soft jazz, especially Latin jazz since it keeps me going (no words though or flamenco).

Q. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I get so absorbed in my writing that I forget to eat. But that doesn’t happen very often, sadly.

Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?

Yes, I hope to make this a series and am currently working on the sequel. I have several ideas that will make exciting plots, I hope, and are unique to the Galveston area.

Q. Please tell us your latest news.

FLAPPERS went on a book blog tour in late November and mid-December. I didn’t even know blog tours existed a month ago so I’m very excited that bloggers like you are willing to promote my novel. As I told Christine with Buy the Book Tours, I feel like a rock star!

Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for supporting indie authors! Stay tuned for the sequel, coming soon, I hope.



1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...