“I don’t always write, but when I do, I go into a trance and write the movie playing in my head #yaquote #MysteryAI goo.gl/HE3eIo” — recent Tweet from Bob Spearman.
INTERVIEW with BOB SPEARMAN
Our discussion on this particular day centered on Bob’s latest release, Shrimpin’ Gold.
I.C.: Bob, there is always a great story behind each of your novels. What was your motivation for writing Shrimpin’ Gold?
BOB SPEARMAN: The motivation to write this book 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.C.: So, you were committed to writing about the Low Country setting as much as about the characters?
BOB SPEARMAN: I’ve lived most of my life in the Charleston area. 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 Low Country, 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 ghosts 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.
I.C.: Mmm, sounds good. And the food is always terrific in Charleston! But I digress. Bob, without giving too much away, give us a kind of summary, a synopsis, if you will, of Shrimpin’ Gold.
BOB SPEARMAN: I’ll give you a verbal blurb, how’s that?
I.C. [laughs]: That sounds perfect. Blurb away, Bob.
BOB SPEARMAN: 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. And that’s Shrimpin’ Gold.
I.C. [applauding]: Bravo! Best verbal blurb I ever heard. No poem intended. That was excellent. Would you be willing to read us just a tiny taste of the novel?
BOB SPEARMAN: Oh, sure.
I.C.: Okay, then. We’re listening.
BOB SPEARMAN: I’ll give you a little bit of context. In this chapter, shrimper Joe Ladson is overwhelmed in his trials to save his wife, Cora Lee, who has pancreatic cancer. They cannot afford the treatment to save her life. The doctors will not extend any further credit, and Medicaid demands Joe and Cora forfeit their family property in order to receive coverage. Cora Lee won’t allow that. Time is critical. The couple has been together since they were high school sweethearts. In this passage Joe, sits on the porch, next to her empty chair, and contemplates a future without her.
BOB SPEARMAN [reading from Shrimpin’ Gold]:
“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 low country 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.”
I.C.: Wow. That is beautiful. That’s almost as lovely as the Low Country itself.
BOB SPEARMAN: Thank you.
I.C.: No, thank you, Bob Spearman, for sharing Shrimpin’ Gold with us today. I hope you’ll come back again when your fourth novel comes out. Before I go, though, I want to remind our readers of two other Bob Spearman novels you’ll want to read as soon as you finish Shrimpin’ Gold. Below are those novels and the links where you can get them.
“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.”
Get Hard Road, by Bob Spearman.
“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.”
Get Turf and Surf, by Bob Spearman.
To read more about Bob himself or to get in touch and stay in touch, here are some links for your convenience.
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Spearman/e/B00MCIT57W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0