A Virtual Visit to Key West, Florida
Thanks so much for having me as a guest on your blog, James.
As a history buff, I’m hoping your readers will enjoy a virtual visit to Key West, Florida, during the days of old.
In the mid-1800s, wreckers enjoyed their heyday. When my family vacationed on the tiny island years ago, a visit to the Shipwreck Historeum piqued my interest in the wreckers and led me to write Angels, Sinners and Madmen, a historical adventure romance.
Freya’s Bower will release the novel on July 27: http://www.freyasbower.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=11&products_id=246
As implied in the name, wreckers made their living by salvaging cargoes from ships sailing too close to the reefs lying near Key West.
From the top of the lookout tower, people heard the cry: Wreck ashore! Wreckers scrambled to their sloops. Battling time and nature herself, these men would race to the sinking ship during fierce storms to save the
passengers from watery graves.
Then they would reap their reward by hauling up sunken cargo – including textiles, fine pewter, cotton, lumber, whiskey – most any cargo imaginable.
My family and I climbed to the top of the tower, and it’s a wonderful view. Despite the heat, I imagine many on watch spent pleasant hours up there.
In walking the streets of Key West, it’s not difficult to imagine Hemingway trodding the same path. His home is preserved for visitors,
but that’s another tale.
The home that most interested me was the oldest wreckers house. Its rooms look today the same as they did in the 1800s.
Mosquitoes were legendary in those days. It made me wonder how effective the linen screens might be.
No cooking was done in the main house due to the intense heat. During our visit, the hotel pool water warmed to 105 degrees, so I can only imagine how residents suffered in the 1800s. An outbuilding housed the summer kitchen, where servants prepared the food.
The entire house was maintained as an exhibit, complete with descriptions such as the one above of daily life on the island. Elements I absorbed for use in my novel.
Here’s an excerpt from Angels, Sinners and Madmen:
Acutely aware of his presence beside her, she suspected he had the same effect on other females. “It sounds like your days are very full, Mr. Langhorne.”
He halted, his gaze intense. “Will you never call me Sam? I may be older than you, but not so old to warrant such formality.”
His sudden seriousness took her by surprise. Using his name implied an informality—a familiarity–she wasn’t quite ready to allow. Then again, he’d brought her up from the depths, his strong arms leaving an indelible impression on her skin, one she felt even now. How much more familiar could one get? “Sam.”
He continued walking. “Thank you, Livvie.”
He said it naturally, as though he’d called her that all her life.
She glanced behind them, then ahead. “This is not a quicker route. In fact, I believe it will lengthen our walk.” These streets were new to her. The houses appeared larger, maintained better than those on Duval Street, at least at the end where the Crowells’ boarding house stood.
His brows furrowed as he pressed his lips together. “Hmm. Is that a fact?”
The stern look she tried to affect gave way to a smile. “So. Tell me about Philadelphia.”
“It’s a bustling metropolis where small-minded people live.” His tone had a sharper edge, and he avoided her gaze.
“City life doesn’t suit you?” Livvie’s curiosity got the better of her, one of her father’s chief complaints.
“Not when I could be here instead. The choice between spending my days there, devising means to outwit others, or here, in the glorious sunshine, my life mine to live as I see fit–well, it was the easiest choice I’ve ever made.”
“What do you mean, outwitting others? Were you a thief?”
He laughed. “In a manner of speaking.”
So willing to share certain parts of himself, so reticent to share others. What secrets, she wondered, did Samuel Langhorne hide?
She scrutinized him. “You are a puzzle.” More likely a Pandora’s box, and the temptation to open it grew.
Here is the book trailer:
Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.”
The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination.