In the second of my monthly spotlights featuring other writers, I am proud to welcome Bob Spearman, fellow member of Mystery Authors International, and March 2017 Author of the Month.
Writing on the beaches of South Carolina has proven a productive environment for Bob Spearman, and on a breezy, warm afternoon, you may find him sitting on the sand under an umbrella. His favorite Carolina haunts are Edisto Beach, the Isle of Palms shoreline, or on an isolated stretch of Pawleys Island. The relative solitude, the breath of salt air, and the rhythm of the sea provide inspiration for plot lines based in the Carolina Low country.
Bob grew up in rural South Carolina and now lives with his wife, Barbara, in Mount Pleasant. Although a son of this area, he has lived in Georgia, Texas, Florida and Utah while working as an engineer. After moving back to Charleston, he started writing fiction as a hobby. He works with several local writer groups, has written three novels, and several short stories. He is currently working on his fourth novel. He is a graduate of The Citadel and holds a master’s degree from the University of Texas.
I asked Bob to share with me some of the background behind the writing of Shrimpin’ Gold, his third novel.
“The motivation to write this book,” Bob replied, “was, in part, to highlight the life of the local shrimper family and their struggle to survive the current economic tsunami that attacks their business. In the Carolinas, this business spans generations of local families who know no other way to live. The concept to tell the story of this struggle and yet give the main characters a hope for survival popped in my head while sitting on the beach. I was watching a slow-moving shrimp trawler offshore as he plowed his way home to Shem Creek. What if they pulled up a net of Spanish gold? ”
“I’ve lived most of my life in the Charleston area,” Bob continued. “Local family and friends have all enjoyed the privilege of easy access to fresh fish, shrimp, and oysters sold along the creeks of the Low country. One of the most popular landmarks for fresh seafood is Shem Creek. This creek, home to numerous shrimp boats that line its shores, feeds into the Charleston harbor. It has been an icon for the Lowcountry, a favorite haunt for painters and photographers, and a magnet for restaurants and bars. With fuel prices up and the competition from Asian shrimp farms, living has been difficult for the families who have toiled at this labor for generations. Life is changing for the shrimper. Bringing awareness to this situation and the potential to help were paramount to this story. If the shrimp boats leave, the creek will lose the allure, and will become just a muddy creek.
“Oh, and finally, in Charleston, we have fun with pirates and the ghost of these characters from days gone by. Adding a little of that flavor to this story is like the hot sauce on shrimp; not necessary but it sure spices it up.”
Shrimpin’ Gold was released in August 2016 on Amazon, and has achieved a 4.6/5.0 stars rating from reviewers. Bob was kind enough to share a snippet from the novel.
Joe sat on his front porch in his favorite spindle-backed rocking chair. He studied the movements of two brilliant red Cardinals as they chased bugs along a jasmine-covered fence. A cool breeze carried the sweet scent of the jasmine blossoms across the porch. When the breeze stiffened, a squeaky windmill propeller, in his flower garden, waggled around in uneven circles.
His gaze drifted from the birds to the empty rocker next to him, and he sighed. A Carolina Wren, hidden high in the oak tree canopy, tweeted a familiar tune. He looked up and gained solace with the chorus of sounds that nature offered.
As a boy, he had climbed in these oak trees and tossed a baseball with his dad beside the jasmine fence. He had fished the saltwater creeks near his property with his grandfather, his father, and his son. He had rocked on this porch and watched the stars with Cora Lee when they were both in high school.
This lowcountry haven embellished his soul, it was a part of him and impossible to dissect; it gave him peace. He knew he could not leave this place and survive. He knew if he did leave, the smell of pluff mud and the sounds of sea birds would haunt him until he returned.
For now, the empty chair reminded him of what might be lost, the missing complement to his soul, like the song to a bird or the smell to a jasmine blossom. Through the years, each Sunday after church, they ate noon dinner together, and then Joe and Cora Lee enjoyed this simple pleasure of sitting on the porch. They rocked content with what the afternoon offered, blue sky, clouds, or rain. He could no more live happy without her than he could survive without the marshes or the sea.
All three of Bob’s books are available on Amazon.
Turf and Surf (published May 2014)
An idyllic tourist town finds itself home to a dangerous turf war in Bob Spearman’s riveting debut novel, Turf and Surf. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has long been a favorite tourist destination, but beneath the sunny exterior, a dark power struggle entangles locals, summer workers, tourists, and drug dealing gangsters as they fight for control. Among them is Bo Jr., whose run-in at a mob-owned bar turns him into a hit-man-in-training. Best friends, Edna and Evelyn, navigate the perilous world of romance as one falls for a police officer—the other, for a mobster. With a new drug gang riding into town, a serial kidnapper tying up summer workers, and a corrupt police force that looks the other way, tensions come to an explosive climax in this fun new read that will leave readers guessing until the last page.
Hard Road (published February 2015)
You choose suicide, but fail. The man who almost killed you commits to be your savior; but first he must overcome his own demons. It’s a Hard Road, but love may find a way. Laurel struggles through the pressures of a bad marriage, the death of her child, and life on the street. Hank endures a difficult job with a horrible boss and a corrupt parole officer, who together force him to work as a truck-driving courier for their illegal drug business. Beset with this trauma, he strives to help Laurel survive through her recovery from attempted suicide and after her bout with a psychotic episode. Set in the Low country of South Carolina and on the streets of old Charleston, Hank and Laurel share the secrets of their painful pasts. But even with their fortuitous new love, persistence, and good hearts will they be able to survive?
Shrimpin’ Gold (published August 2016)
In good seasons and bad, small family-owned shrimping operations have survived in the Carolinas. Harlin Dodd, a third generation shrimper on Shem Creek, faces the demise of a business started by his grandfather. Long time loyal first mate, Joe Ladson, struggles to pay his wife’s medical bills. Their old shrimp boat is beyond repair. Shrimp are scarce. But just as the financial dilemmas of both families seem insurmountable, their shrimp nets bring up a treasure chest filled with gold. With this prize, their troubles really begin. When pirates return for their lost gold, Joe is tortured, and Harlin’s daughter is kidnapped. Harlin must trade himself to save his daughter. Storms, pirates, gold, and ghostly illusions, all set in historical Charleston, make the shrimpers’ struggle an exciting Low country tale.
Get to know more about Bob Spearman and his novels by visiting his web site.