Candice Cox Wheeler
Moving twenty-three years forward in time from my 2021 debut novel, Cradle in the Oak, my sequel, Squall in the Gulf, takes place once again along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, this time in the Roaring Twenties. This was a fascinating time, when doughboys were still coping with shellshock from the Great War and the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transport of liquor, leading to medical prescriptions for alcohol, rumrunning, bootlegging, speakeasies, and jazz.
My historical research led to some interesting connections between the Coast and the cities of Chicago and New Orleans, which inspired me to include all three in my storyline for Squall in the Gulf.
One intriguing connection was the celebrity gangster, Al Capone, whose Chicago empire was rumored to be worth over one hundred million dollars. One of his many homes was located on a bayou in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. From this bayou, Capone and his gang would board a fast powerboat and take off for Cat Island, located a few miles offshore, to supervise their rumrunners. I took this information and let my imagination run wild over the waves and through the frequent squalls in the Gulf of Mexico.
Located just ninety miles from the Coast, New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz and Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, was dubbed the Liquor Capital of America by revenue agents in the late twenties. At the age of twenty-one, Armstrong, already a budding musician, left New Orleans on a train to Chicago and joined Joe “King” Oliver where he made over sixty records in three years and became one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time.
Both Capone and Armstrong interact with my protagonist, an award-winning female war correspondent who returns from the Great War, having experienced emotional and physical trauma. With the aid of alcohol, she tries to live the rich socialite life her physician husband expects of her, while trying to find her purpose in life and rekindle her journalistic career. In this continuing family saga, you will find a suspenseful tale of blackmail, rumrunning, Coast Guard encounters, and deadly backwoods bootlegging, along with journeys to the magical Isle of Caprice, where you can test your luck at the roulette table, enjoy a romantic dinner for two, and dance the night away swinging to the sweet sound of jazz.
I’ve been asked, since Squall in the Gulf is indeed a sequel, if Carrie Burns and David Tauzin from Cradle in the Oak are returning. Yes, they are, and their presence is important to the story, but it’s the second generation that takes centerstage in Squall. It was both fun and challenging to put the offspring, who Cradle in the Oak readers knew as teens or young children, into situations as adults where they had to make difficult choices. And because so much wonderful Biloxi history was layered into the backdrop of Cradle, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to blend the backdrop of Roaring Twenties-era Biloxi with the fast-paced suspense of Squall.
I can’t wait for you to read the new book. Order signed copies at dogwoodpress.com, and on the site you’ll find my event schedule. Thanks so much for your interest!
A fourth-generation Biloxi, Mississippi, native, Candace Cox Wheeler is a partner in the law firm of Wheeler and Wheeler, PLLC, where she has worked alongside her husband, David, since 1981 and raised two sons. She is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi School of Law. Squall in the Gulf is her second novel and will be available at dogwoodpress.com on August 1, 2022.