THE AUTHOR: Andrea Brunais.
THE EDITOR: Saundra Kelley (content editing).
THE PUBLISHER: Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, an independent publisher in North Florida.
SUMMARY: After a news reporter falls victim to her daily’s downsizing, Janis Pearl Hawk becomes a “backpack journalist” supported by an environmentally oriented foundation. Her mandate is to cover the “green” candidate running for Florida governor, but her path takes a twist when the murder of a campaign worker stymies law enforcement. Investigating the murder prompts threats to her well-being and possibly her life – or has she angered other powerful people with her reporting on the gaming industry, Big Pharma and a ship-channel dredging project at Port Manatee?
THE BACK STORY: As a reporter, columnist and editorial writer in Florida, I saw up close the unconscionable power of lobbyists and the often-subversive tactics of special interests. Meantime, Florida’s fragile environment continues to pay the price as money, power and politics are given more weight in the balance. Another motive for writing the book was to play out an idea of mine that a maverick candidate could win Florida’s governorship by stirring up a populist, rag-tag caravan of vehicles moving northward through the state to the capital, Tallahassee – a scene that could draw CNN news helicopters.
WHY THIS TITLE? I love a teaser, and it tells something about a character while hinting at intrigue.
WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Readers have told me that they love the page-turning quality, they learn a lot – and it gives them laughs as well!
“‘Mercedes Wore Black’ vividly depicts the underbelly of the newspaper industry and the all-too-real shenanigans of those who are ever willing to sacrifice Florida’s natural treasures.” – Joe Guidry, The Tampa Tribune.
“Brunais’s novel is light yet filled with substance, the action provided by a colorful and humorous cast. With an upcoming governor election, a lottery power-grab by JackPot, and an environmental cover-up at Port Manatee to pursue, Janis moves quickly, and the pace of the narrative matches her zeal. In the hands of a lesser writer, the sheer number of storylines might overwhelm the narrative. Yet Brunais deftly weaves them together, allowing each headliner due time for investigation. To those concerned about how voters are informed in today’s media, “Mercedes Wore Black” provides a multifaceted perspective of modern reporting: there is the good, the bad, and the downright frustrating. At its heart, though, “Mercedes Wore Black” is a mystery novel that keeps you wondering, as any good novel should.” – Stephanie Selander, Florida Book Review
“My favorite so far this summer has been Blacksburg’s Andrea Brunais’ “Mercedes Wore Black,” a mystery that involves ‘backpack journalism,'” politics and Florida, a great combo for a novel. – Dan Smith in his blog post “Gratitude: The state of books in this region”
“Whether a reader finds ‘Mercedes Wore Black’ a romantic political thriller or political thriller romance, it’s one of those books that does what the best examples of genre literature do – it teaches you a lot without your even knowing it. For that reason alone, it’s worth your time.” – Scholars & Rogues.
AUTHOR PROFILE: I am what’s laughingly termed a “recovering journalist,” currently working as a director of communications at a university and, ironically, employing all the tools of a backpack journalist. I’ve won many writing awards including from the Florida Press Club and Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and a Robert Kennedy Award for investigative journalism.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: With “Mercedes Wore Black,” I hoped to bring Florida journalism, politics and the environment to life in an entertaining way. Sadly, it came to pass that the dredging project in Port Manatee actually took place, and all damage environmentalists warned about actually occurred – and more. But it’s not a dreary book … there’s also a love interest, of course!
WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Southern Yellow Pine Publishing PRICE: $15.95 or, on Kindle, $4.99