The Showboat Affair, published by The Wild Rose Press in 2011, will be on sale by the publisher for two weeks beginning June 5. I'll be blogging about the story and related subjects AND offering a chance to win some nice prizes (more on those later) everyone who pops in to at least say 'hello'.
In 2009, a long-time friend with whom I sometimes took short trips suggested we go to Branson, Missouri. I balked, citing distance, expense, traffic, and the fact it was a tourist trap. We went anyway, and I discovered all my objections to be unfounded. Branson was—and is—a delight with something for everyone.
Of all the activities, the dinner cruise on The Branson Belle became the high point. Before we boarded, we drove to an overlook where the sight of the magnificent hotel and spa, the Chateau on the Lake, captivated me. Then, after a sumptuous meal and a rollicking family-friendly show, I knew why I’d come.
“This boat would make a good setting for a story,” I observed as my friend and I exited the Belle. “I think I’ll write The Showboat Murders.”
Kathy, obviously horrified at the idea, quickly replied, “Oh,no! Make it The Showboat Affair.”
And so I did.
In 1950, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel starred as Magnolia Hawkes and Gaylord Ravenal in a third screen version of Showboat adapted from EdnaFerber’s novel of the same name. I must have been six or seven when I saw it in the movie theatre and came away entranced by Jerome Kern’s magnificent musical score. William Warfield’s performance of “Old Man River” stayed with me most of all, despite the fact I was much too young to understand the pathos of the song’s message.
Years later, I owned the movie on VHS. Whenever my unnamed emotions demanded some kind of release, I popped in the tape and had a good weep. When Ava Gardner, who played the ill-fated Julie Laverne, stood on the dock watching the Cotton Blossom move away, my tears spilled over. Having facilitated the reconciliation of Magnolia and Gaylord, now parents of a beguiling little girl named Kim, she blew them all a kiss and moved back into her sad, shadowed life, content to know those she loved would live happily ever after.
Viewers and readers take many messages/lessons from what they see and read. From this particular story, I took the premise of hope, the reality of second chances, and the ideals of forgiveness, and reconciliation. These I wove into my little tale about Nick and Jean: their struggles and hopes and finally their determination to seize a second chance for happiness in their individual lives.
Like Magnolia and Ravenal, they’d played the hand life dealt them—sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Then, together, they’d folded their cards and sailed away (figuratively speaking) to new beginnings and their own happily-ever-after.
Tomorrow: Before he met Jean, Nick had another life. . .
DON'T FORGET TO GET YOUR NAME "IN THE POT" FOR PRIZES STARTING TODAY!