Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beginning a New Project

The image above is the beginning of a grand Spanish style hotel built in Homosassa Springs, Florida in the 1920's. This hotel and the arcade across the street were the start of a new planned tourist town the likes of which had never been built in Florida. City plans called for a rail station, expansive streets, sidewalks nine feet wide, and a resort centered around a beautiful clear spring where manatees wintered.

Sarah and I are stepping back into this time as a setting for a new mystery story. For a while now, the two of us have been writing short stories involving two retired army nurses who served in France during World War One. We are thinking of bringing them to Florida during the land boom of the 1920's to look at a property in Homosassa Springs that they could use as a winter retreat.

Our big decision now is what length story. We both have a passion for short fiction, but are considering a traditional closed room mystery novel for this plot. Lots of wealthy investors were being lured to Florida by developers. Before the land bust of 1926, property on Florida's Gulf Coast attracted sportsmen, industrialists, the idle rich, and gangsters.

The idea of writing "Murder on the Mullet Express" has a certain appeal. There is one problem: from October of 1925 to May of 1926, Florida railroads placed an embargo on passenger trains. The demand for Florida produce in the North, and building materials in the South had increased rail traffic to capacity. Developers in Homosassa Springs resorted to bringing potential customers into Jacksonville by train, then transporting them to the hotel by limousine. A seven passenger Packard wouldn't have room for enough suspects for a novel. We would have to set this story earlier than our previous stories or make it a short story plot. Writing it after the embargo was over is not an option. By the time the embargo was lifted, the real estate market was in decline.

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