Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Little Background

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland, Book 1 of The Dreamland Series, will be available TOMORROW JULY 2. Here's a little background on how the idea for the series developed and also why I have a personal interest in one of te characters.

How the Series Got Started
    I retired near Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 2007. One of the first things I learned about the area was its history as the stomping ground of such notorious gangsters as Al Capone, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Owney Madden—among many others. Gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging ran rampant in the scenic resort area during this by-gone era. About two miles of underground tunnels run beneath the streets of Hot Springs. Their use (or non-use) by the visitors to the area has been told and retold in countless books and short stories.
    One afternoon I stumbled upon the Ohio Club and ventured inside. From an upstairs table where a gambling casino once did a brisk business, I looked down at the massive antique bar and then read the history of the club from the back of the menu. Many famous people have patronized the establishment, including the aforementioned ‘gangsters’.
    I kept feeling I wasn’t alone and glanced up to see a life-sized cut-out of a grinning Al Capone complete with cigar. A story began to percolate. Later, on another visit (I like to go have my soft drink during the quieter afternoon hours), I sat in a booth downstairs and was told that it backed up to the door Al Capone used to access the tunnels. Now the story reached full brew.
    Be sure to read more fun facts by following the links. If you ever visit Hot Springs, you’ll want to make sure you browse the Gangster Museum—and then amble down Central Avenue to the Ohio Club for a ‘cold one’. The service is friendly, the food is great, and nobody complains about a senior citizen who brings her laptop, claims old Al’s booth, and orders a Coke!

Books about Hot Springs AR
Title: Hot Springs : from Capone to Costello
Author: Raines, Robert.

Title: A Place Apart:  A Pictorial History of Hot Springs, Arkansas
Author: Hanley, Ray, 1951-

A Personal Note
    One of the continuing characters in The Dreamland Series is a young man named Danny Jefferson. Danny, born with Down Syndrome, has carved out a good life for himself with his own determination and unflagging family support. A one-time special education teacher, I have a professional knowledge of DS.
    However, I also have a personal interest. After the deaths of my parents, I set out to learn the facts about the brother who died as an infant. By piecing together scattered clues, I realized he had most likely been born with DS. The very week I began my quest to learn more about him, I visited the cemetery and found his grave had sunken in up to my ankles. It was almost as if I was being sent a message:  Justice. Justice at last.
    Eight years later, I looked forward to the birth of my first grandson. When the call came, I rejoiced—and then heard the words, “He has Down Syndrome.” But I still rejoiced, knowing he’d been born into a family who would love him unconditionally and work tirelessly to ensure he reached his maximum potential. With a myriad of the health problems which often come with DS, the tiny little fellow clung to life through his first year. Now his smile lights up the lives of all who know him.
    The Dreamland Series is, of course, light reading—but there’s a deeper message. The books are a grandmother’s love song to a little boy whom I pray will find his special niche in life—like Danny Jefferson. And I hope readers will come to know Danny as a person, a young man, a functional member of society who pulls his own weight—not as ‘a DS person’. Perhaps the next time readers cross paths with someone who is ‘different’, they will be quicker to see how we are all the same.

Those of you who check back tomorrow for an excerpt will find out when the book is being offered FREE. It's a one-time deal, so don't forget!

1 comment:

Linda Swift said...

It has been many years since my family and I spend a week in Hot Springs but I have lovely memories of the place. And I can tell you love being there.
This was a vry touching story about your grandson. I, too, have worked in Special children, now called Mentallly challenged, I believe. The DS students were such happy kids, and so non-judgemental. It is a pity so many "unlearned" folks judge them.