31 October 2010

Guest Author: Delia DeLeest

This week on Excerpt Thursday we're featuring one of our regular contributors, Delia DeLeest as she celebrates the release of NOT LOOKING FOR TROUBLE, set during Roaring 20s. Join us Sunday when Delia will be here to answer questions and give away a digital copy of this sexy romance.

How could someone not looking for trouble stumble upon it so easily? Susan Kent wonders this exact thing when she finds the man of her dreams, only to discover that he lives in a nightmare of his own making.

Jake Kelley thought he found the peace and simplicity he'd been looking for all his life. But in bringing Susan into his world, is he only dragging her down instead of pulling himself up?

The dark underworld of gangland Chicago throbs with intrigue, thrills and danger--those who venture there seldom leave intact…if they leave at all.


Though NOT LOOKING FOR TROUBLE is my third published book, it's actually the second manuscript I ever wrote, my first being a western that will never see the light of day. After watching a few old gangster movies (I may be in love with Jimmy Cagney) I became interested in the Roaring Twenties and all the incredibly interesting characters that came from that era. Okay, interested is kind of mild, let's just say I got a mite bit obsessed right down to the point when I could identify all the victims in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in a police crime photo. Then I got to wondering about the women in these men's lives. Who were they? What drew them to these men? And how did they deal with consequences of living a life on the edge of crime? It was these things that created a story in my head just begging to be told and NOT LOOKING FOR TROUBLE was born.

What was 1920s Chicago like?

Though bootlegging was prevalent throughout the country in the 1920s and there were gangs controlling every major city at that time, Chicago is the one that has captured my imagination. The mood of the people of that time was reflected in this wonderful city. There was an underlying franticness, people out searching for just one more good time, regardless of its safety or legality. Chicago could be a dark, dangerous city, full of evil men whose only goals were money and control and they'd stop at nothing to get them. Winters in the Midwest are cold and unforgiving and I couldn't help coupling the atmosphere of the city with the uncompromising weather to portray the mood of the characters in my book.

What do you enjoy the most about researching the 1920s?

I've got an unhealthy attraction to my reproduction 1923 Sears and Roebuck catalog. That, along with a 1927 yearbook from a Chicago high school, can keep me entertained for hours. Something as simple as a description of a gas stove or a picture of the Senior class play can give me ideas that can turn into an entire scene or plot point.

But, it's reading mini-biographies about real people who lived in the time that I just can't get enough of. By reading about people's lives, societal expectations, rules and morals come to light, things that may never come up during a surface study of the time. While I love reading fiction, it just can't beat the lives real people and their true life struggles and victories.

Though the music of the times takes a little for our modern ears to get used to, I've been enjoying listening to it. I even found a dance tutorial online and my kids and I had a great time learning to do the Blackbottom, the Foxtrot and the Charleston.

What do you have in the works?

I've got a few manuscripts sitting in the darkness of my hard drive patiently waiting for me to make them readable. I feel guilty about these neglected children, but not yet guilty enough to whip them into shape. At the moment I'm attempting to store up my creative energy so it can burst forth in it's wondrous beauty on November 1, when I participate in my fifth year of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). That's the plan anyway, I'm not sure if my creative energy got the memo.


If you'd like to win a digital copy of Delia's NOT LOOKING FOR TROUBLE, leave a comment or question here. Maybe let us know what elements of pop culture you like from the early 20th century. Music? Movies? Any favorites you'd like to share? I'll draw a winner at random next Sunday. Void there prohibited. Best of luck!