Hello, I’m Carla Roma. Welcome to Bandit Creek, a town with a startling history. I love a good glass of wine, but I can’t imagine it being against the law. Author Alyssa Linn Palmer has met me at the Powderhorn Saloon for a drink and a chat.
Carla Roma: First, tell us what you’re drinking.
Alyssa Linn Palmer: Jack Daniels. As a small woman, the bartender always takes me seriously if I order JD neat.
CR: Would you be able to go without a drink?
ALP: If I had to, but I wouldn’t have wanted to do so for the length of Prohibition. Imagine not having a flute of champagne on New Year’s Eve, or a scotch after dinner… for fourteen years!
CR: Can you tell us a bit about the history behind your story, PROHIBITED PASSION?
ALP: The Prohibition Act, commonly known as the Volstead Act, passed in 1919, and it wasn’t repealed until 1933. This made it illegal to produce, sell or even transport liquor. At first you’d think this might be a good thing: it could lessen things like public drunkenness and disorder, but really it made it worse.
CR: Why choose Prohibition over other historical periods?
ALP: There’s so much possibility for conflict. The idea came to me after talking to my great-aunt about the history of a Canadian town called Whiskey Gap. The town was a centre for rum-running in western Canada. Since Bandit Creek is just over the border, it seemed a good start. I’ll also admit to a certain fondness for the fashion sense of flappers.
CR: The finger-waved and bobbed hair is my favorite. Is that why you included a flapper in your story?
ALP: Partly. Cecilia – or CeeCee – came about because I needed a worldly foil to Ruth’s small-town naiveté. CeeCee’s what Ruth wants to be, if she can get up the nerve. The fashion is secondary, but imagine the stir a flapper in a sequined dress walking down Main Street would cause…. it was too good not to use.
CR: You mention Ruth. Who is she?
ALP: Ruth is the focus of the story. She’s the daughter of the town’s pastor and she’s never had much chance to spread her wings. She knows she’s different from the other girls, but she can’t do anything about it.
CR: What makes her different from the others?
ALP: She’s the only one who doesn’t like boys. She knows it’s expected of her, but she feels no attraction to any man. She felt something for one of the other girls at school, but until she meets CeeCee, she’s resigned herself to a lonely, loveless life.
CR: So here we have the second prohibition.
ALP: It can be hard enough in the 21st century being gay in a small town…
CR: I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but there must be complications for Ruth.
ALP: She has to worry about her father finding out her secret, but that’s not all. CeeCee’s not alone. She’s with a man.
ALP: I think I’ve shocked you.
CR: I’m not sure if shocked is quite the right word. Poor Ruth!
ALP: She has competition in the form of Patrick Sheridan, a Chicago gangster looking to make his fortune in rum-running.
CR: Did you have any particular inspirations for his character? You’ve mentioned on your blog that you’re a fan of the old gangster films.
ALP: There wasn’t one specific gangster, but he probably owes more to Bogart’s portrayal of ‘Mad Dog’ Roy Earle in the film ‘High Sierra’. At least, his ethics aren’t as black and white as the typical gangster thug. He’s no Edward G. Robinson or Paul Muni.
CR: I do have a thing for the bad boys, I must admit.
ALP: They have their charm. Sheridan’s no exception.
CR: I think I need to go watch ‘High Sierra’ now. Want to join me?
ALP: Definitely! I’ll bring the popcorn!