Linda is here with her latest book AL CAPONE AT THE BLANCHE HOTEL. It rocks!




Linda Bennett Pennell is here today talking about her new release, AL CAPONE at the BLANCHE HOTEL and it is a cool read!


I have to ask what drew you to write about the period of the 1930’s, and most particularly, Al Capone?

I love anything with a past and I have always found the first part of the twentieth century fascinating. I suppose all the stories I heard from my older family members who grew up during that time drew me in. As to Capone and gangsters in general, that’s an easy one. Both the TV show and the movie based on Elliot Ness, The Untouchables, have been longtime favorites.

 What was the catalyst for your novel and did Al Capone actually visit Lake City’s Blanche Hotel?

The Blanche Hotel has stood on Marion Street in Lake City, Florida since 1902 and is home to the state’s first elevator. It is purported to be haunted by a woman who killed herself over love gone wrong and children who died while staying there. It is said that one can hear the sounds of children’s laughter and a woman weeping when all is quiet. I’m not sure about that, but here is what I do know. Al Capone really did stay at the hotel in transit from Chicago to his Miami property.  I have always been interested in the hotel’s history, especially from its early days. Knowing that Capone stayed there got my imagination churning and Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel is the result.

 I’m curious if you’ve visited this place, and if you did, what was your reaction to it? Did you see any of the ghosts that are supposed to reside there?

When my parents and I moved to Lake City, the Blanche was still operating as a hotel and we stayed there for a few nights until our furniture arrived. In the years that followed, we ate many a Sunday dinner there after church. I am sad to report that I didn’t hear or see the ghosts. As to my reaction, the hotel as such was in a period of decline when we stayed there. I remember large rooms with dark Depression era wallpaper, worn carpets, and Art Deco era furniture. The bathroom was much as one would expect – claw foot tub, old fashioned pedestle sink, small black and white octagonal floor tiles.

Your protagonist, Liz, is a professor at a university and also a writer and I know that you’re a teacher and a writer, so are her passions related to your passions?

On a personal level, Liz’s passion for bad boys is based on my observations of young women and their sometimes skewed perspective of what romantic relationships should be and what they want in a man.  Liz is very accomplished professionally, but the cost of achieving professional maturity is that she has neglected her inner life.  She doesn’t know herself or what she really needs very well.  Of course, this is her personal journey in the story.

Professionally, there are times when I wish I had completed the path toward a Ph.D. in history and taught at the college level, but my career in public education has been very rewarding, so I have nothing to complain about.

Sometimes you gotta love the bad boys!

In the beginning of your book, one of Liz’s assignments is to generate interest in the flagging enthusiasm of young people for history at her university. For those of us who love history, that’s a very sad commentary. Do you think historical novels can regenerate interest in history?  

I absolutely believe that novels can stimulate an interest in history as long as they are well researched and the reader is not led to confuse fiction with fact.  As a professional reading specialist, I taught reading improvement through novels. My colleagues who taught Texas and US History used novels in their classrooms as well.  Novels can be wonderful teaching tools!

In my own paranormal historical, some of the quirkiest details were actually true facts. Can you tell some of the more unusual facts in your book that might sound more like fiction than actual fact?

Well, I suppose the fact that the Santa Fe River disappears underground at O’Leno State Park and really does suck things underground might qualify. The river surfaces again some several miles from where it descended. Some years ago, a diver thought he would try to follow the river through its underground passage. Sadly, he never emerged and his body has never been found, at least according to what I have been told. 

In your book, the setting shifts back and forth from contemporary times to the thirties. Did you find writing this way more freeing than if you kept the setting to one specific era?

Writing a story with dual time lines was something I wanted to try. I found it fun and, yes, I think I can say freeing as well. It helped me accomplish some goals that I had for the story.  I wanted to explore some points about romantic relationships and personal growth.  Writing from Liz’s perspective allowed me to do that.

Do see yourself writing more books in the 1930’s era?

That remains to be seen.  My historical passion covers most eras, so it is certainly possible that I will return to the 1930’s at some point. Presently, I am working on a WWII novel set in Casablanca.  I’m learning so much about spies and desert warfare!

I can’t wait to read that one!

This is a great book and so can you give a little taste of what AL CAPONE at the BLANCHE HOTEL is about?

Thank you so much for your kind words and this opportunity! Here is the back cover blurb.


Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan’s self-righteous vigilantism. Jack’s older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your book. Could you give the links on how to purchase your book or learn more about you?

Again, thank you!!  I so appreciate your having my on your blog! Here is the buy link: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5    This is the link to my author website:  http://www.lindapennell.com/


Please feel free to post any questions or comments you have for Linda.

Thanks for stopping by.





20 Responses to “Linda is here with her latest book AL CAPONE AT THE BLANCHE HOTEL. It rocks!”

  1. Tiff says:

    Sounds like a great book to check out!

  2. Hi there! I’m sorry if you had trouble making a comment on Linda’s post. I seem to be having technical difficulties. Hope it works now!

  3. Loved the book, Linda!

  4. ronelda says:

    I love your book, Linda. A total enjoyable read. I like the interview as well. Many thanks for sharing.

  5. Rosemarie Kelly-Cunningham says:

    Thanks Brenda, Looks like an exciting read. Great interview! Thanks for introducing the book and author to us. Keep up the good work!

  6. Suezette Cason Wiggins says:

    I am 3/4ths of the way through your book, Linda, and I love it. Great story line – love the back and forth between the different time periods. Great to read a story where I recognize so many of the places in the book. I ate at The Yearling down at Cross Creek years ago. Keep writing!

    • Hey, Suezette! I’ve been keeping up with you through FB. Love the pictures of your family and I am so glad you like my book. I am always a little nervous when I know that someone from LC is reading it. Delighted, mind you, but nervous because I do not want to disappoint the home folks!

  7. What a fun interview, Linda! And the books sounds great! Love that era and am kinda fascinated with the mob!


  8. Janna Shay says:

    Terrific interview, ladies.

    Linda, your book sounds fascinating. I’ve added it to my TBR list. Can’t wait to read it.

  9. I’m so glad you find the book interesting. It was a work of the heart. I hope you will enjoy it.

  10. Excellent interview, Linda! Your book is definitely on my TBR list.

  11. Meb Bryant says:

    Sounds delicious! Love the title and cover. Can’t wait to read the novel.

  12. Susan Muller says:

    This is a great book and a fun read. I love the way you slip back and forth in time, letting us see the similarities and differences in the two eras.

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