Karen Casey Fitzjerrell is the author of The Dividing Season, a blogger, and a good friend. She's also one of the authors featured in The Corner Café, an anthology of short stories. Her book, The Dividing Season, is fiction, but Karen's a stickler for getting everything right in her books, including the setting and history.
Karen Casey Fitzjerrell
Sometimes it pays to back track even though our society wants to operate on the unspoken rule of Full Throttle.
A few weeks ago, in order to save my sanity, I headed off to the Texas Gulf Coast for much needed rest and relaxation. I walked the beach, sipped chilled wine on the balcony and watched brown pelicans glide on warm Gulf of Mexico breezes. In a matter of days I’d down shifted to a more reasonable mode.
My mind drifted back to eight years earlier when I was on a similar mission of reconnecting with the truly important parts of my life. I had taken a side street off the main highway through Palacios ,Texas and literally stumbled onto a fiction writer’s gem: The Luther Hotel. The Luther, originally named the Tres Palacios Hotel, had been built 100 years previously. Not long after completion a Mr. Luther bought the money-strapped establishment and renamed it. At one time the hotel was the diamond of the Texas Coastline. Big money investors from cities like Chicago and New York regularly made the train trip to Texas to stay at The Luther. Back then the hotel claimed it had the longest front porch in Texas. The history of the place was so rich I knew without a doubt I’d include it in my novel, The Dividing Season, that I was working on at the time.
So it was that on the fourth day of my May, 2012 sabbatical, curiosity overcame me. I drove the extra fifty miles to Palacios to see if the hotel was still standing. It was leaning with age the last time I’d seen it and there’d been a few major hurricanes to hit the coast since that time. I had no idea what to expect but when I rounded a corner and turned onto South Bay Boulevard, there she was standing as proud and lovely as ever. True, she was still leaning. The foundation had sunk at her outside corners, but her middle had a fresh coat of gleaming white paint and a two people were sitting in rocking chairs on the porch. I was delighted.
As an aside, one of the men mentioned a prisoner of war who’d worked at the hotel busing tables back during WWII. I gulped and asked him to please tell me more. As he talked, I couldn’t believe my good and great fortune. I’d been reading anything I could get my hands on that concerned WWII Prisoners of War in Texas. I’d known there was a camp in that same county, that prisoners were often given jobs in towns, but never dreamed I’d find such a connection to the Luther. There I was stumbling onto the perfect location and backdrop for my next book exactly as it had happen eight years earlier.
A week after I got home, the owner of the The Luther emailed me to order ten signed copies of The Dividing Season and added that he’d like to plan a wine and cheese book signing event. I was flabbergasted.
The moral of this little missive is threefold. One: I should never doubt the power of curiosity. Two: Give away books. You never know what will come of it. And, three: Every now and then let go of the throttle, get out of the chair, away from the computer screen and out into the world to explore and reconnect.
You just never know what you’ll stumble on.
Thank you so much, Karen, for coming to Straight From Hel to share your news about the wine and cheese signing party at The Luther for The Dividing Season. I think that's fabulous! The Dividing Season is available on Amazon in paperback or e-book.
5 months ago