Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bathing Beauties, Booze & Bullets with Ellen Mansoor Collier Book Tour

Ever since I read the Great Gatsby, I’ve been fascinated with the Jazz Age. While on a trip to Chicago, we went on a “mobster’s tour” of Al Capone’s old stomping grounds and visited the famous Green Mill speakeasy. Originally the idea materialized years ago when I visited a speakeasy-turned-diner in Galveston. I heard all these wild stories about the Maceo brothers, real-life bootleggers and gangsters who basically ran the island for over 25 years, and the idea slowly began to take shape.

I love the design aesthetic and attitude of the era, the sense of freedom and “anything goes” spirit. The art, fashions, architecture and furniture—even the industrial designs—had such a distinctive flair, an artistic rebellion against convention and tradition. Personally, I’d love to live in a cool Art Deco period house, if only I could afford one! LOL

Most books or movies about the Roaring Twenties seem to be told from the gangster’s or cop’s point of view, so I wanted to portray the reality and struggles of a single young woman—not a wealthy debutante or socialite—trying to make an honest living during Prohibition. Women’s emancipation really happened during and after the first World War, when women got the right to vote in 1920.

Although my character, Jazz, is faced with lots of old-school sexism as a society reporter at the Galveston Gazette, women were finally starting to be taken seriously in the workplace during the 1920s.

It’s such an exciting time in history, but it wasn’t all about parties and romance and nightlife. In many ways, Prohibition parallels the problems we’re having today with drugs and gangs and Mexican cartels. Since her half-brother Sammy owns a speakeasy, Jazz is on the fringes of the criminal underworld, but she’s a nice girl who tries not to be sucked in by temptation (or attractive gangsters). A flapper in her 20s during the 1920s seemed a natural fit for a mystery series!
Bathing Beauties - Cover
About Bathing Beauties, Booze & Bullets:
It’s 1927 in Galveston, Texas—the “Sin City of the Southwest.” Jasmine (“Jazz”) Cross is an ambitious 21-year-old society reporter for the Galveston Gazette who tries to be taken seriously by the good-old-boy staff, but the editors only assign her fluffy puff pieces, like writing profiles of bathing beauties. The last thing Jazz wants to do is compare make-up tips with ditzy dames competing in the Miss Universe contest, known as the “International Pageant of Pulchritude and Bathing Girl Revue.”

She’d rather help solve the murders of young prostitutes who turn up all over town, but city officials insist on burying the stories during Splash Day festivities. After Jazz gets to know the bathing beauties, she realizes there’s a lot more to them than just pretty faces and figures. Jazz becomes suspicious when she finds out the contest is also sponsored by the Maceos, aspiring Beach Gang leaders and co-owners of the Hollywood Dinner Club, where the girls will perform before the parade and pageant.

Worse, her half-brother Sammy Cook, owner of the Oasis, a speakeasy on a rival gang’s turf, asks her to call in a favor from handsome Prohibition Agent James Burton—an impossible request that could compromise both of their jobs and budding romance. While Agent Burton gives her the cold shoulder, she fends off advances from Colin Ferris, an attractive but dangerous gangster who threatens Sammy as well as Burton. In the end, she must risk it all to save her friends from a violent killer hell-bent on revenge. Inspired by actual events.

Ellen Mansoor Collier - Author Photo
About Ellen Mansoor Collier:
Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines, including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMO, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories have appeared in WOMAN’S WORLD. A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com).
Formerly she’s worked as a magazine editor, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel. She lives in Houston and visits Galveston whenever possible.

Website link: www.flapperfinds.com

Buy Links:
Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play:
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Smashwords (PC and text formats)

Bathing Beauties, Booze And Bullets:
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Smashwords (PC version and text versions)

Goodreads: Flappers: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15776795-flappers-flasks-and-foul-play

Bathing Beauties: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17729623-bathing-beauties-booze-and-bullets


Katreader said...

Sounds like a good read! I visited Galveston when I lived in Austin, TX. Neat place!

Ellen C. said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Melissa!
Kathy, you'd never know Galveston was such a wild and wooly place back in the 1920s...
nothing like the sleepy beach town it is now. Enjoy!

Cyndi Riccio said...

Ahh, but Gaidos is still good eating... fun to see places I recognize!

Ellen C. said...

Yes, Rosalee, I agree (that rhymes)--Gaido's is the best! I tried to use places still in existence, which is amazing after all these years (and hurricanes). But I wanted to include high-class nightclubs/speakeasies like the Turf (Surf) Club and the Hollywood Dinner Club since they were like the Ritz or Stork Club of Galveston...those were the days. (Way before our time--lol) Enjoy--thanks! Ellen

Unknown said...

I have been fascinated by the 1920s ever since my grandmother taught me to do the Charleston when I was six years old. I'm looking forward to Book 3!