Miami Interview # 12

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This installment of my Miami Interviews is with Joan Lipinksky Cochran. Joan is an interesting lady.  Her novel, not only, tackles race relationship in Mid-century Miami but she has a fascination with Jewish gangsters and has a Yiddish glossary on her website. Take a few moments to get to know her.

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1. Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.

I grew in Miami – specifically, Coral Gables – and am still thrilled by the beauty of Biscayne Bay when I drive across the Rickenbacker Causeway, take the expressway from Miami to Miami Beach, or sail into Coconut Grove through Stiltsville. I also love the fact that the one constant is of Miami is change. When I was growing up in what many called “Miamuh” it was a small, southern and, sadly, bigoted town – the Miami. I’m writing about in my short story collection. Then it went through a major expansion as northerners moved down, Cubans and then other Latin Americans immigrated, before it became a glitzy sophisticated international city.

2. What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?
That’s impossible to answer. I think that John D. McDonald captured Florida in a way no one else has and I still visit his protagonist Travis McGee’s fictional boat slip when I’m at Bahia Mar. He writes of a South Florida that is still pristine and mourns the gradual loss of its natural beauty.

3. Tell us about your writing and main characters.
I recently published Still Missing Beulah: Stories of Blacks and Jews in Mid-Century Miami. It’s a collection of short stories and historical accounts of the civil rights era told through the eyes of Tootsie Plotnik, an aging Jewish businessman whose bigotry is challenged by the black people who enter his life. It’s a sort of “spoonful of sugar” approach to learning about Miami’s less-than-positive past because, readers tell me, the dialogue is funny and the characters are compelling.

final ebook cover Still Missing Beulah

4. Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?
Tootsie’s a tough guy who’d take the sharks on under his own terms. Probably haul them into the boat and beat the heck out of them.

Find Still Missing Beulah on Amazon or via Joan’s website. You can also find her on Twitter @wordsbyJoan.

 

 

Miami Interview # 11

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Miami Interviews gets historical.   Suzanne Adair writes award winning historical crime fiction. I love her covers. They really make me want to pick the book up and read what’s in them.

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I asked Suzanne my standard 4 questions:

1. Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.

Ft. Lauderdale is my hometown. That’s where my family and I rode out Hurricane Cleo in 1964. But Miami was nearby, with a lot to see and do. When I was in elementary school, we visited the Miami Seaquarium and Parrot Jungle. Several times a year, we’d head to Islamorada in the Keys for a weekend; of course we drove through Miami to get there. In my teens and twenties, there were trips to the Miami Airport, the Port of Miami, Homestead, Kendall, Biscayne Bay (in a bikini on a sailboat!), South Beach with its art deco, Coral Gables, the Hialeah dog track, and Coconut Grove. I remember when Jai Alai in Miami was big business. Miami has grown into a diverse city—cosmopolitan, fevered and pulsing with the tropics, lush with verdant foliage. My favorite spot there is old-world, new-world Villa Vizcaya. What fun seeing footage of Vizcaya in “Iron Man 3!”
2. What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?

Bahamarama by Bob Morris. This madcap mystery set in Florida has an ex-con for a main character and includes screwball sidekicks, murderers, kidnappers, tourists, too much rum, palm trees, and a hurricane. It’s the kind of book that could only have been written by someone who’s spent many years in Florida and loves the place very much. And it’s so “Florida” that I imagined smelling coconut and conch while I read it.
3. Tell us about your writing and main characters.

I write a crime fiction series set in the South during the American Revolution. It’s full of interrelated characters that show up in multiple books.

The first three books—Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and the double-award nominated Camp Follower—have middle-class women as main characters. We don’t hear their stories in fiction very often, and I wanted to show the challenges that ordinary women faced during the war. The protagonist in Paper Woman, a printer named Sophie Barton, winds up taking a harrowing journey in 1780: from the backwoods of the Georgia colony, to British-occupied Cow Ford (aka Jacksonville) and St. Augustine in Florida, to the Bahamas, and finally to Havana, Cuba. My depiction of eighteenth-century Havana is spot-on enough that many people have asked me when I visited Havana. (Alas, never. I did a ton of research, plus I lived all those years in south Florida absorbing the cultural influence of Miami’s Cubans.) The Florida Historical Society gave Paper Woman the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award.

For the rest of the books in the series, I take a look at the Revolutionary War from the angle of another personality who is under-represented in fiction, in a strategic location almost never covered in our history books. Readers who remember Michael Stoddard—a young British officer and a minor character in Paper Woman, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, and Camp Follower—enjoy following his adventures as a criminal investigator in British-occupied Wilmington, North Carolina during most of 1781. Both Regulated for Murder and A Hostage to Heritage have picked up accolades. Look for book 0 of Michael’s tale, Deadly Occupation, later this year, with three additional books planned to round out his story.

All my books are available in paperback and multiple e-reader (Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo) formats. If you’re a history buff, make sure you check out the “Relevant History” feature on my blog : guest authors talking about the fun pieces of history that got cut from our high school history classes. Then sign up for my quarterly e-newsletter, Suzanne Adair News, to receive freebies and discounts from those guest authors and me. And follow me on Facebook, Twitter , Goodreads , and Pinterest.
4. Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?

If Sophie and Michael, my eighteenth-century main characters, were teleported to twenty-first century Miami, their initial reaction would be shock. In the eighteenth century, the clothing that Europeans and colonists wore in public, even in the tropics, covered almost all of their skin and hair. To Sophie and Michael, it would look like Miamians were walking around in public naked.

However both characters are responsive to their environment—willing to try new things, to loosen up and go with the flow. After they got past the shock of a city full of naked people, they’d swap their sweat-drenched wool and linen for shorts and pastel shirts. They’d enjoy Cuban coffee, black beans and rice, and fried plantains. Sophie would open an antiquarian bookstore in South Beach. Michael would launch his own P.I. business with ne’er a slow day. And if Michael’s sidekick, Nick Spry, also got teleported to modern Miami, he’d start up a parasailing company called “Fly With Spry!”SuzanneAdairLoRes2007Follow Suzanne via her newsletter and find her social media links on her website.

Psst– Suzanne I think you’ve come up with a brilliant plot for a time-traveling thriller! 18th century modesty meets 21st century any-thing-goes Miami!