Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Putting Yourself in Your Book

By Chester Campbell

I'm often asked how much of myself gets into my books. Obviously an author's ideas fill his or her work, but not much of the writer's personal life winds up in the fictional world. My new book out shortly turns all of that around.

Hellbound is a suspense story that, except for the ending, takes place over a five-day period. The action during that time occurs in settings that mirror almost exactly a similar five days of my life back around 1995. The book's plot involves a busload of seniors from a suburban Nashville church who head down the Natchez Trace on a carefree journey to The Big Easy. By the fourth day they become aware that a Mafia hit squad has been playing a deadly game of tag with them.

Except for the Mafia angle and the hurricane and its aftermath, the bus journey to New Orleans follows exactly the trip my wife and I took with a group from City Road Chapel United Methodist Church in Madison, TN twenty years ago. It includes the tour of the French Quarter we took aboard a mule-drawn carriage, right down to some of the driver's spiel that I taped with a small recorder. I changed the name of the church and created new characters for the driver and bus passengers, although a few resemble actual people.

This book is more personal to me than anything I’ve written. It’s almost biographical in some respects. One of the two main characters, Marge Hunter, lived in East Nashville on Gartland Avenue in a house similar to the one in which I grew up. She attended East Nashville High School in the early years of World War II, as I did. She graduated from the University of Tennessee and moved to Madison after she was married. Same as me.

The seniors on the bus know one passenger as Bryce Reynolds, a retiree who lives not far from the church. He is really Pat Pagano, a successful Las Vegas stockbroker who was lured into handling investments for a New York crime family. After his two grown sons are killed in an attack by a rival gang and his wife succumbs to cancer, Pagano decimates the mob with his testimony in federal court. He disappears, then resurfaces in Nashville as Reynolds, a retired businessman from Oklahoma. But after years of searching, an old Mafia capo tracks Pagano to the church bus en route to New Orleans.

Hellbound is currently available for pre-order as an ebook for the Kindle at this link. It will be available shortly in paperback.

Mystery Mania blog


Jean Henry Mead said...

It's good to have you back, Chester. Your new release sounds fascinating.

Chester Campbell said...

Thanks, Jean. I think it's a great story.

Jackie King said...

This sounds like my kind of book! I'm downloading it, now!

Chester Campbell said...

Hope you enjoy it, Jackie. I enjoyed writing it.