Life’s never easy for a good-hearted man who decides crime is the answer to his troubles.
No rain in the summer of 1933 is bad news for Oklahoma farmer Henry Mink. The local banker wants the mortgage on the farm paid and unless Henry comes up with the dough, his widowed mother and four young siblings won’t have a home. Jobs are scarce so he decides to rob a bank. His sweetheart, school teacher Mamie Logan, doesn’t like the idea and neither does Henry’s kid brother Eddie but Henry’s out of options.
He leaves home and robs a bank at nearby Ponca City. When he returns home, he pays off the mortgage but new troubles show up. Mamie is his greatest joy and they become engaged but by fall, Henry has no options left but to rob another bank. If he can pull off one another big job, he figures he’ll be set until the hard times are over but few things in life go as planned. His desperate efforts will either secure his future or destroy it forever.
If Henry’s family survives and Mamie’s love endures, he’ll need a miracle.
Tell me about yourself. What’s a day in your life like?
I’m a mom of three, married, and I live in a small town but I’m from a larger urban area. My day starts early, ends late, and in between writing, editing, and promoting, I try to keep up with the laundry, cook a little food for the family, and keep the house from looking like a total disaster area.
When you were a child, what was your dream occupation?
I wanted to be an author from about the third grade forward. Even earlier I scribbled stories and made up imaginative games.
Describe an incident in your life that’s helped mold you into the person you are today.
When I was thirteen, a tornado ripped through my community and destroyed my home. My father was injured and I owned the clothes I had on my back. It was a devastating moment yet even in the darkest moments, I managed to find hope. I saw the very best of human nature and the worst. I picked through the rubble with the help of family members and friends to salvage a few things. I learned never to value physical possessions over the things which really matter – people, love, and life. I have many things I wouldn’t want to lose but I also know I could survive without them if necessary.
Who are your favorite authors?
Diana Gabaldon, Deborah Smith, Nora Roberts, Laurell Hamilton, and Sandra Brown to name a few – I also enjoy Lila Munro, Cassandre Dayne, Blair McDowell, and KT Bishop’s work.
What are you passionate about?
History, the creative arts, helping others when I can, veterans, kids and senior citizens.
What would I find in your couch cushions?
I’d be afraid to look – probably loose change, crumbs from when my kids eat on the couch (even though they’re not supposed to), a magazine or newspaper or two, and maybe some lurking dust bunnies.
What’s your biggest fear?
One of my great-grandmothers, born in Indian Territory who came to Missouri in a covered wagon as a young girl once told my mother, “By the time you live through the things I have, you won’t be afraid of anything.” My mother, older than I by a generation still fears many things but as my brother once told my daughters who were worried about some calamity, “Your mother’s not afraid of anything.” So although there are things I would prefer not to have happen, I tend to deal with what comes and move forward.
It’s 10:00 on a Friday night. Where are you?
If the weather’s fine, I’m out on my deck looking up at the night sky and sharing a drink with my husband! If it’s rainy or cold, I’m probably watching a favorite movie.
What sets you apart from other writers?
I tend to write about everyday people. Sometimes they’re ordinary folks in extraordinary situations, caught up in larger than life events or interacting with the rich and famous but my characters tend to be similar to people any of us could meet, sit down and have a cup of coffee with some conversation.
We’re in a bar and I’m buying you a drink. What’ll it be?
Depending on my mood, a glass of a good sweet Italian red wine or a glass of Jameson’s fine Irish whiskey.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished “The Tarot Diaries” by Elicia Seawell. I just started “Four Days With Hemingway” and I’m also reading (another) biography of Rudolph Valentino.
How do you deal with rejection?
I accept it and learn from any mistakes I’ve made, then move onward.
Where did the idea for your novel come from?
I grew up on Depression era stories from my grandparents and I always thought one day I would base a novel around some of them.
Do you have advice for aspiring writers?
Learn your craft and be the best you can be at it. Even after you think you’ve mastered it, remember there is always room for learning and improvement. Never give up and grow a thick skin – you’ll need it.
What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as an author?
I think it’s from local people in the small town where I live who classify everything I write as “smut” and “dirty books”. The majority don’t feel that way at all but there’s a small moral minority who do and although my books do include sex, it’s presented in what I feel is a loving, natural way. It’s not deviant and I wish people would read it before they judge it.
What does your main character think about you? Would he or she want to hang around you as their author?
I’m sure Henry thinks of me as the amazing lady who brought him to life and sure, I bet he’d buy me a soda pop anytime.
Who would play the starring role(s) if your book became a movie?
Jensen Ackles would be awesome as my hero, Henry. He’s got the whole protective older brother thing down from playing Dean Winchester on “Supernatural” and I’ve seen him in an episode wearing 1930’s clothes – he was smoking hot. Jessica Stroup would make a great Mamie, same coloring!
If you had to choose one…which song would sum up your story?
Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? 1932 #1 hit by Bing Crosby
If you’d like, provide an excerpt:
They walked behind the house and past the big barn. A foot worn path led into the field, but a fork veered off right. As they drew closer to the spring, the path narrowed and the number of trees increased. Beneath the cover of the trees, out of sight of the farmhouse, Henry put his arm around her slender waist. They managed to walk together down the single file trail to the spring and settled onto the rustic bench near the water. Henry straddled it so he could face her but Mamie sat in a side saddle posture. Before he could lean forward to snatch a kiss, she reached over to rub his cheek with the back of her fingers.
“Tell me you were just being silly a while ago,” she said. “I’ve been worried sick you meant what you said.”
Her touch kindled tenderness, but deep in his crotch Mamie’s fingers lit another fire and he inhaled hard. “I did mean it, girl. When I got back to the house, Richardson from the bank sat there, fedora on his knee, badgering Mama for money. He’s planning to foreclose and take the farm unless we come up with the money by the end of July. We sure as hell don’t have it and I don’t know of any other way to get it.”
Mamie’s eyes darkened almost black. “I could ask Daddy, Henry. I don’t know if he has it or not, but he might.”
“No,” he said, spitting out the word with force. Then he used a softer tone to add, “I appreciate it but I ain’t taking your family’s charity. I’ve made up my mind. I’ll rob a few banks, pay off the mortgage for Mama, get ahead, save some money and then I’ll quit, no harm done.”
“It’s wrong,” Mamie said with a troubled expression. “You know it is, Henry.”
He did, but damned if he’d admit it now. “What’s wrong is people getting kicked off their families’ land where they’ve lived for generations,” he said. “Banks are wrong to wring the last nickel away from folks. It’s not right for kids to go hungry or old people to do without. I don’t aim to get rich robbing banks, just take back enough to get through these hard times. If I can help a few people on the way, I will. And I don’t plan to kill no lawmen or shoot anyone.”
“Oh, Henry,” Mamie said and sighed. “I know almost everybody’s having a terrible time and no one has enough money. I don’t think the banks are being fair either, but two wrongs won’t make it right.”
“Money’ll go a long way toward fixing it,” Henry said.
“There’s not enough money in the world to make up for it if you get hurt,” Mamie said. “Or if some sheriff hunts you down to take your life. You could end up in prison down at McAlester or dead like Pretty Boy’s bandit friend, Birdwell. Your mama would just be heartbroken if anything happened to you. So would Eddie and the girls. Think about them, Henry.”
Mamie might be a smart young lady, but she didn’t understand, not yet anyway.
“I am,” he said. “I’m doing this for them. I can’t let them be put out on the road without a home or go live with stingy old Uncle Ed. And I’m worn out watching them go to bed hungry or do without almost everything. They all need shoes and I don’t think poor little Vi’s ever worn a brand new dress.”
Would you like to say anything to your readers / fans?
I love and appreciate every one of them. They make my day when they offer a compliment or buy my books or just interact with me.
Where link-wise can your readers / fans stalk you?
Facebook: my personal page is Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy plus I just kicked off an author page – From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I
As a writer, it can be difficult to find enough time in the day to get everything done. Would you like to share your favorite ‘quick and easy’ recipe?
I like one-pot meals I can stick in the oven or throw in the crock pot. This is one of my favorites and although the original used chicken, I’ve made it with turkey, ground beef, cubed ham, and ground sausage.
We call this Noodle Bake at my house –
1 can any flavor condensed cream soup (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cheddar cheese or golden mushroom)
½ cup milk
Black pepper to taste,
1 package frozen vegetables, peas work great but corn, carrots, mixed vegs, or a blend can be used too
2 cups (or 1 pound) cooked chicken, turkey, hamburger, sausage, or ham, cubed or browned.
2 cups medium egg noodles, cooked and drained (it works with any kind of pasta too)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs, seasoned or plain (or French fried onions)
½ cup shredded cheese – any flavor, whatever you think will taste good with the meat and soup
Stir everything but the shredded cheese and bread crumbs together and place in a large casserole dish. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbling. Top with shredded cheese and bread crumbs, put back in the oven for about 5 minutes and serve.
Thank you for visiting my website and I wish you great success with Dust Bowl Dreams! :)