Wednesday, November 28, 2012

{Book Tour} Whirlpool by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts--Review and Guest Post

Only in Niagara Falls
I had been writing for a long time before I actually started to tell people that I was a writer. Now that I have two published novels, and a dozen published stage plays, I am finally willing to say “yes, I’m a writer.” There is a downside to claiming to be a writer, and the downside is the fact that almost everyone has a story idea that they want to give you. Unfortunately I don’t think I will ever have time to write someone else’s story idea because I already have too many of my own characters walking around in my head and interrupting my thoughts. Some of the strongest characters try to insinuate themselves into stories that don’t belong to them. Perhaps they are afraid that I’ll never have time to write their story so they try to get in on whatever story I happen to be writing.

And sometimes it’s not a character; sometimes it’s a place. My novel Whirlpool is about a woman who is determined to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Evangeline is a very determined character and she wanted her story told, but more than the story of Evangeline and her ride to the brink of the Falls, I wanted to write of the Niagara River itself. I am an immigrant to the United States. I came here from England and Niagara Falls was on my list of places to see. Nothing had prepared me for the journey along the Niagara parkway from Buffalo; seeing the mist in the distance and beginning to hear the roar of the Falls. I can only imagine what it was like for the first settlers who had no idea what awaited them just around a bend in the river. Standing at the Falls and watching the green water sliding smoothly over the brink is hypnotic. I can see how a suicidal person could be tempted to jump, but the question I kept asking myself was “who would think of a barrel?” Why would anyone think that they could survive in a barrel? I spent a summer directing one of my plays in the Niagara region, and that was when Evangeline first started to talk to me and tell me that she had a story to tell; and the more I wrote about her, and the more real she became in my mind, I realized that her story had to be more than a story about stubborn ambition; it had to be a story about how the quest for fame can replace the quest for love.
Niagara Falls is now closed to daredevils, and barrel riding is strictly illegal, but in the 1920s the town was a mecca for all kinds of people seeking fame by risking their lives. As soon as I set Evangeline and her ambition down amidst the carnival atmosphere and introduced her to Joshua, the one man who could offer her the best chance of survival, the story began to write itself. It is a story that could only happen in one place; Niagara Falls. 

My thoughts:
Whirlpool is an adventure in a novel.  It's not only the adventure of someone going over the falls in a barrel; it's the adventure of finding romance, a woman coming out of her shell, gambling and double cross, and even the women's movement.  Very adventurous indeed.  I really enjoyed this book.  Ms. Hodgetts definitely knows how to tell a story.  The characters were real and I genuinely felt part of the story.  I can't believe that people used to go over Niagara Falls in barrels.  Were they brave, or just crazy?  Hodgetts gives some good insight into what would motivate a person to take that kind of chance.  Whirlpool is an interesting book and definitely worth a read.

About the book:
The year is 1923 and the jazz age is in full swing. Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, is recruited by the Women’s Freedom Movement to represent the spirit of modern womanhood by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Evangeline eagerly embraces her opportunity to achieve fame and fortune, until she sees the power of the River and begins to understand the risk she is taking. Joshua McClaren, an enigmatic battle-scarred veteran of World War I, and the best boatman on the river, reluctantly agrees to launch the headstrong Evangeline. Joshua has seen hundreds of bodies surface in the Whirlpool below the Falls, and has faced death on the battlefields of Flanders and has no respect for the charming, impetuous Mrs. Murray, and her desire for fame. Before the barrel can be launched, each of them will have to face their own demons, painful secrets will be revealed and the Niagara Rivers will claim two more lives. Inspired by true stories of the Falls, Whirlpool is a romance, an adventure, and the closest that most of us will ever come to taking the fateful plunge over the Falls.Whirlpool is a fiction that is based on reality. Seven people have tried to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Four have succeeded and three have died. The first person to make the attempt was Annie Taylor, a middle aged school teacher from Michigan who made a successful journey in 1901. Barrel riding at Niagara Falls is now forbidden by law, but at the beginning of the 20th century Niagara was a haven for daredevils of all types, and many of their exploits are included in the novel.

About the author:
Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is the author of Whirlpool. She is a much traveled writer. Brought up in England and Wales, she has also lived and worked in South Africa and Uganda and now makes her home in Pittsburgh, PA. Her life experiences allow her to use exotic backgrounds for her novels and to understand how an adventure can begin with just one small incident. For ten years she directed a humanitarian mission in East Africa and is also involved in a Ugandan Coffee Farm. Much of her writing reveals not only her great fondness for the British Isles, but also her British sense of humor which still sees the funny side of most situations.

In addition to writing novels, Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is also an accomplished playwright with a number of national awards to her credit. Her novel, Whirlpool, began life as a stage musical playing at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1993 the Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY, proclaimed the summer of 1993 as Whirlpool Theater Days in honor of the production.

The author’s award-winning courtroom drama Titanic to All Ships will open at the Comtra Theater on April 13 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The drama, created under a Fellowship Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a dramatic re-telling of the Senate Hearings into the tragedy. The play has won several national awards.

Find out all about Whirlpool at Goodreads:

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book for having me on the tour.


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