Authors Showcase: Jazz Baby by Beem Weeks and Voodoo Child by Janice Horton
October 26, 2013
Caleb Pirtle III
The Book: Jazz Baby
The Author: Beem Weeks
The Story: While all Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, a sudden orphanhood casts its icy shadow across Emily Ann “Baby” Teegarten, a pretty young teen.
Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, Baby Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that brings church ladies to righteous tears and makes angels take notice. “I’m gonna sing jazz up in New York City,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. ’Cept that Big Apple—well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she used to call home.
So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all sorts of shortcuts, Emily Ann soon learns it’s the whorehouses and opium dens promising to tickle more than just a young girl’s fancy that can dim a spotlight…and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out.
Jazz Baby just wants to sing—not fight to stay alive.
About the Author: Beem Weeks is the 46-year-old indie author of several short stories, poems, essays, and the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel Jazz Baby. A divorced father of two grown children, Beem has lived in Florida and Georgia, and is currently calling Michigan home. Among his literary influences he counts Daniel Woodrell, Barbara Kingsolver, and Stephen Geez. He’s been writing since childhood, having co-authored a play he saw performed by and for classmates and staff during his time in fifth grade. As a teenager and young adult, Beem wrote concert and record reviews for a small publication. Journalism had been his intended field from an early age, but all that changed with the publication of a short story that eventually led to his first novel, Jazz Baby. Beem enjoys indie films, loud music, and a well-told story. He is currently hard at work on his second novel—though that’s a slow go at times.
Review by S. Rose: Jazz Baby reminds me of the time when I, as a small child, peeled open my very first pomegranate. Hidden beneath the unassuming skin I discovered a treasure of sparkling, edible ruby-red jewels that felt smooth to the tongue and when bitten, burst into a luscious sweetness with a tart, sassy edge. So too with Jazz Baby!
In the interest of disclosure I offered to review the novel for author, Beem Weeks, and was forthwith gifted a paperback copy (since I’m an old fogy who hasn’t broken down and bought a Kindle or other reading devise). I hefted the small book-only 205 pages-in my hand, admired the cover and commenced to reading. From the first pages, the voice of protagonist/narrator, Emily Ann A.K.A. Baby Teegarten demands your attention with the raw power one would expect of a character who is a natural born vocal artist. It is easy to imagine her belting out soulful tunes to the accompaniment of various rag-tag “colored” jazz musicians, who more than make up in spirit for what they lack in musical training.
The novel is set in the deep South during prohibition, in a backwater place called Rayford, Mississippi, with forays over the river to New Orleans where drinkin’, druggin’, whorin’ and the occasional murder are inextricably entwined with the jazz scene of the speak-easies. The language is so southern that as I read, I could almost feel the heat and humidity rise, and swear I smelled a hint of swamp water wafting in. Perhaps it’s due to the languid climate, or maybe it was something in the water, but for Emily Ann, just about everyone she encounters (`cept maybe Aunt Frannie) – from the Choctaw Indian boy who works in the garden to the colored help, a girl about her own age– whips up a lust in her loins. I declare, belts come a-loose and panties flutter to the floor like magnolia blossoms in a stiff breeze.
There are moments when Mr. Week’s writing danced with its back to an erotica cliff, one foot over the edge and the other on an oil slick; truth be told, I think he fell off more than once, but that’s for you to decide. (If you have curious children about the house, you might want to stash the paperback in your sock drawer and read it after they go to bed.) In any case, I can just about guarantee that you will not be bored. The tempo is steady and throbbing as a hot jazz tune; the characters and their adventures are as wild and dangerous as a swamp full of alligators (oh yes, there is a scene with a gator!) I couldn’t stop turning the pages and finished it the second day.
In the final analysis, apples are good for leaving on the schoolmarm’s desk, but pomegranates, well…they’re for something else altogether, so go ahead and drink in the sumptuous juice of Jazz Baby.
The Book: Voodoo Child
The Author: Janice Horton
The Story: Voodoo Child is the third book in the voodoo romance series of novellas by bestselling author Janice Horton. The first book in this series is How Do You Voodoo? and the second is Voodoo Wedding. Each novella is approximately 66 pages or 20,000 words in length.
In Voodoo Child, ex-celebrity UK fashion model Nola and her handsome Haitian husband Louis are expecting their first baby. But as one precious life begins another is about to end. Louis’s beloved old Uncle Sid is dying and has declared his last wish is to see Louis and Nola’s new baby baptised on St John’s Eve – the most important event in the voodoo calendar. The voodoo isn’t over for Nola or for Louis!
Bestselling novelist Janice Horton is also the author of full length novels Bagpipes and Bullshot and Reaching for the Stars as well as the non-fiction title How To Party Online.
About the Author: Janice Horton escaped a city-chic lifestyle and a career in corporate brand placement to live in a remote cottage on the side of a hillside in Scotland. Previously traditionally published and now writing as an Indie, Janice writes fiction with humour and heart and a hint of tartan. When not writing novels, Janice writes lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s ‘Write Here Write Now’ incentive. Janice is a regular blogger and you’ll often find her partying on Facebook and Twitter. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and a Featured Author and Associate Editor at the innovative online magazine Loveahappyending Lifestyle.