Miami Interview #13

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Yes, I know. I am out of order. It wasn’t superstitions that had me skip #13 it was just a document folder mix-up. So, I am fixing the problem by going backwards. The interview after this one will put me back in numerical sequence. I hope I am forgiven. On to the interview…

Richard Brawer and I are members of Sisters in Crime. Yes, the mystery writers group was founded to help promote women in the genre but it is not just for sisters. Misters are welcomed, too. (See equality if you have any questions.) When I asked the group in an e-mail if anyone had a good personal story about Miami, Richard replied he had  one from his childhood. Miami Beach was Swamp & Deco from his recollection.  I don’t know if it was true in the 50s but in the late 30s it certainly was!

3-28-1937lincolnRichard has several novels, including romantic suspense, mystery, and historical fiction. But the one he told me about in this interview has a Quaker main character. I am certainly intrigued by that fact and I hope you will be, too.

Richard Brawer Author Pic

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

Interesting that you called Miami the “Magic city.” There was a TV show with the same name that I loved. It was set in the 1960s. They used the façade of the Fontainebleau as the hotel. Unfortunately, it was cancelled.

My first recollection of Miami was on a vacation in 1950 when I was seven. We stayed at the Lord Tarelton hotel where many celebrities also stayed. My mother had a photo of my parents flanking Ed Sullivan but I don’t know what happened to it.

At that time 16th street, or Lincoln Road, was the end of Miami Beach but I believe Collins Avenue (I don’t know if it was called Collins Avenue back then) continued further north into what was a swampy area at that time. My father told a story about how he and a couple of men took a drive and saw a for sale sign on a piece of “swamp land.” They didn’t buy it. On the property today stands the Fontainebleau and the Eden Rock. I don’t know if this story is true or a fabrication but it’s a good tale.

That first trip to Miami Beach was the beginning of my love for Florida. I graduated the University of Florida in 1964. I met my wife there. We visit her sisters often. I have watched Miami Beach go from what it was on my first visit, through motel row, to a rundown crime-ridden city, back to exclusive condo buildings and a revived “South Beach” where the rich and famous again hang out. I was really sad when the Rascal House in Sunny Isle closed.

2. What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?

I guess if I had to choose today I would say Carl Hiaasen. I think he is hysterical. But I also like Tim Dorsey and Laurence Shames. Going back I’ve read all John MacDonald’s Travis McGee and Brett Halliday’s Mike Shayne mysteries.

3. Tell us about your writing and main characters.

I have been writing mystery, suspense and historical fiction novels since 1994.

Love’s Sweet Sorrow, a romantic suspense thriller, is my latest novel published in September 2014 by Vinspire Publishing.

Love’s Sweet Sorrow is a true test of love and faith. There can’t be two people more opposite than Ariel and Jason. Ariel is a traditional Quaker with an absolute aversion to war and killing. Jason is the lead counsel for America’s largest weapons manufacturer. Their budding romance is thrown into turmoil when Jason accidentally uncovers evidence linking his company’s CEO to arms smugglers selling weapons to terrorists.

As the chases, kidnappings and harrowing escapes from those trying to retrieve the evidence intensify, Ariel is forced to kill to save their lives. She withdraws into a raging inner conflict, unable to reconcile whom she has been to whom she has become.

Jason’s battle to expose the smugglers and convince Ariel that saving their lives was an innate reflex amplifies their differences and compels them to delve deeply into their long-held opposing convictions and question whether they are truly meant to be together.

Readers have said: “Well written” “Fast paced plot.” “Grabs you from the first page.” “Wonderful character construction” “An on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller” “I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.” “Quaker character adds a unique twist” “Huge moral barriers for them to overcome” “An enjoyable read from beginning to end.”

Read the full book jackets, reviews and excerpts for all my novels at the Amazon pages for my books or on my website: www.richardbrawer.com

Love cover 453x680

 

4. Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?

Jason and Ariel would be “fish out of water in Miami.” Ariel’s Quaker Meeting (Quakers refer to their congregational services as a Meeting) was established in the 1660s. At that time the Spanish had claimed Florida. I can’t be sure, but I doubt there were any Quakers in Florida during Spanish control.

I would definitely encourage Jason and Ariel to visit Florida to recuperate from their ordeal and bask in the sun and swim in the ocean―not when sharks are present―but they would not have encountered their antagonists in Florida. Although there are military contractors in Florida and the CEO of “America’s largest weapons manufacturer” may have a winter home in Florida, his company’s headquarter would not be in Florida. Also the story transverses from New York City to Las Vegas. Finally, a scene at the Meeting is crucial to the book.

Richard– For the sequel you might have them visit Miami as we do have a Friend’s meeting house  and, as you said, plenty of weapons.
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Miami Interview # 14

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Today, I introduce you to Sharon Potts and her classic Corvair. Well, actually, you’ll have to visit her website to see the Corvair. It is worth the click for the car and for links to her suspense novels. So, click the hyperlink!

Sharon mentions a famous rattlesnake appetizer. I’ve had it. It was served on ice and I thought I was the coolest tween for being out late at a fancy-smancy restaurant. Oh, Miami in the 80’s !

Sharon Potts publicity photo, 28 cropped
1. Have you ever been to Miami? Please tell us the one thing you found delightful or unique about “The Magic City”.
I’m practically a Miami native! I moved to Miami from New York in the late 70’s when downtown Miami was a couple of tall buildings, the courthouse, and two huge parking lots, which took up most of the downtown real estate. I’ll admit I was a bit of a self-absorbed, naïve New Yorker on my arrival. I actually believed it was possible to get around the city without a car, by using public transportation. As you can probably guess, I bought a car within a few days. Over the last thirty-plus years, I’ve watched the city grow up around me. The parking lots are gone. The estates that once lined Brickell Avenue are gone. The crumbling old buildings of South Beach are gone. But I’m happily settled in with a husband, who was one of the few people actually born in Coral Gables, our two kids and dog—all Miami natives, and my car.

2. What is your favorite novel set in Florida and why?
I must first explain that my favorite novelist, who was also my mentor, is the late Barbara Parker, whose wonderful “Suspicion” novels , and many of her standalone works, were set in Miami. Barbara’s descriptions are so authentic that she captures Miami Beach, Coral Gables, the Florida Keys with a vividness that makes you believe you’re there. One of my favorite of Barbara’s books is Blood Relations, set mostly on Miami Beach, which took me back to how things were when I first moved here.

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someones-watching-press3. Tell us about your writing and main characters.
I have published three mystery/suspense novels and two humorous novels, all set in Miami, or nearby. In Their Blood and Someone’s Watching feature Jeremy Stroeb and Robbie Ivy. I hadn’t intended to write a series, but I fell in love with my characters in In Their Blood and wanted to find out what happened to them after the book ends. Jeremy, the twenty-two-year-old protagonist of In Their Blood, suffers a major trauma when his parents are murdered in their Miami Beach home. He is determined to learn who killed them by getting on the inside of their lives, but discovers they were not the people he had believed them to be.
Jeremy returns in Someone’s Watching, to help Robbie Ivy find her kid sister, who disappeared in Miami Beach while on spring break. I loved writing both books because so many of the settings are from my own experiences—Jeremy’s parents’ home on an exclusive Miami island, his grandfather’s house in Coconut Grove, the quaint bar where Robbie works on Miami Beach (Purdy Lounge move over,) and the wild, popular nightclub where Robbie hopes to get information about her sister. (I adamantly deny any similarities to LIV at the Fontainebleau.) There are even flashbacks to Miami in the ‘80s, based on my memories of the office building where I worked, once called the First Federal Building, and a favorite restaurant of mine, back twenty or thirty years ago, called Dominique’s in the Alexander Hotel. Anyone remember the rattlesnake appetizer?
My most recent novel, The Devil’s Madonna, returns to Miami Beach with a new cast of characters. Kali Miller, pregnant with her first child, hopes to learn about the truth about her roots from a grandmother who is desperate to keep the past a secret. Set in a beautiful, old decaying home on Miami Beach, The Devil’s Madonna is about how the past haunts the present, and many of the scenes are flashbacks to 1930s Berlin, when Kali’s grandmother was a young actress involved with a stranger who would change her life. The Devil’s Madonna also touched me personally. It was inspired by scrapbooks I found of my mother-in-law, who had been an actress in Berlin in the 1930s, much like the character in my book. But all similarities end there.
Finally, I suppose I should mention that one of my humor novels is called, South Beach Cinderella!

Devil's-Madonna-low-res_cover4. Would your main character(s) be a fish out of water in Miami or would they dive in and swim with the sharks?
I guess the question for me is if my books could be set anywhere besides Miami. And honestly—I don’t think so. My characters have each been shaped by Miami in ways that are unique to the city. I’ve tried to convey the beauty, the corruption, the crumbling old neighborhoods and the glamorous exclusive ones, so that Miami itself becomes a character in my novels. And yes—one of my characters does try the rattlesnake appetizer at Dominque’s!