Interview with Eve Marryat (Main character of Sweet Mercy)
by Ann Tatlock
Introduce us to yourself in a few sentences, Eve.
Well, I’m a 17-year-old girl who grew up mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that, since everyone knows St. Paul is a notorious haven for gangsters. I mean, soon as one of them escapes from prison, they make a bee-line for St. Paul because they know they’ll be safe there. Bank robbers, murderers, kidnappers, bootleggers, money launderers—they’re drawn to that city like flies to honey and the so –called lawmen just turn a blind eye and let them stay (for a bribe, of course) as long as they do their business outside the city limits. Well, I guess this is telling you more about St. Paul than myself. But I’m just glad Daddy moved us away from there.
It must have been kind of scary, living in such a crime-ridden city.
Scary is the word for it, all right. I’ll tell you, the scariest moment of my life was when I saw a man machine-gunned to death. Mother, Daddy and I were walking in downtown St. Paul when a big black car rolled past us with the barrel of a tommy gun poking out the back window and suddenly the man ahead of us was lifted up off the sidewalk in a hail of bullets. In the next moment his body landed in a bloody heap right on the front doorstep of a Jewish deli. That’s why I was glad when Daddy said we were leaving St. Paul.
So why did you leave and where did you go?
Daddy worked a long time for the Ford plant in St. Paul but like a whole lot of other people he lost his job after the stock market crashed. So he decided to move us to Mercy, Ohio, to work with his brother, “us” being him and me and Mother. My older sister Cassandra stayed in Minnesota, thank goodness. She and I have never gotten along very well. I guess we’re just too different. I mean, she spent years going to speakeasies and drinking out of hip flasks and partying all night. I’m not kidding when I tell you she used to dream of being a moll. If she could have married a gangster like Bugs Moran she would have. Just for the fun of it. But of course she got pregnant and ended up marrying someone else. Serves her right.
Do you like where you’re living now?
I love my new home at Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge! I love this place and I’m so glad Uncle Cy invited us to come live and work here. The island in the Little Miami River is just heavenly. People come from all over the place to stay at the lodge and to swim, picnic and dance on the island. It’s the sweetest place on earth, and no more gangsters like up in St. Paul.
You have one more year of high school, and then what?
I want to go to college. I study hard and I’m a pretty good student. Every year since Prohibition started, the St. Paul chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union has sponsored an essay contest for high school s students and last year my essay won first prize. Anyway, I’m not sure yet where I want to go to college or what I want to be. All I know for sure is that I want to help people and do something that will make the world a better place. Heaven knows, it sure could use some improving.
What about getting married and having a family?
Cassandra says I’m going to be an old maid and whenever she’s mad at me, which is just about all the time, she calls me an ugly duckling and a mean-faced little rat. Maybe I’ll never get married but I tell her better an old maid than a moll! Secretly, though, I hope she’s wrong because I’d like to be in love one day. Maybe I’m not beautiful like Cassandra, but still, maybe someday someone will love me.
What are you passionate about these days?
I’m passionate about keeping the laws of Prohibition and I think everybody else should be too. The government has said no drinking and they mean NO DRINKING! So what does everybody do? People are making gin at home in their bathtubs and moonshine in a million stills out in the woods. And you know what that moonshine’s got in it, don’t you? Rubbing alcohol, embalming fluid, antifreeze and other toxic stuff that was never meant for human consumption. And people drink it anyway! Of course genuine liquor is being smuggled in over the borders and selling it is what’s making the gangsters like Al Capone rich. You tell people not to drink and suddenly everybody wants to drink! I just don’t understand it.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
You’re probably not going to believe this, but I met Al Capone and the man was actually nice to me. I mean, really nice. Of course, at the time I was just a kid and I didn’t even know it was Al Capone. If you want to find out how I met him, you’ll just have to read my story in Sweet Mercy.
Stunning coming-of-age drama set during the Great Depression and Prohibition
When Eve Marryat's father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve's uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.
Eve can't wait to leave St. Paul, a notorious haven for gangsters. At seventeen, she considers her family to be "good people," not lawbreakers like so many in her neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a "safe haven," Eve soon forms an unlikely friendship with a strange young man named Link, blissfully unaware that her uncle's lodge is anything but what it seems.
When the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. Does she dare risk everything by exposing the man whose love and generosity is keeping her family from ruin? And when things turn dangerous, can she trust Link in spite of appearances?
Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy-Award winning novel Promises to Keep. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her "one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories." Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.
1 winner will receive a copy of 3 of Ann's Books
Sweet Mercy, Travelers Rest and Promises to Keep
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