Blood and Whiskey A Scalisi Family Novel #1
by Meredith Allison Genre: Historical Thriller
1924 Chicago is a turf war: the North Side against the South Side. Booze, guns, money, and blood are all currency here.
Prohibition is a breeding ground for the rise of organized crime in America, and for the ambitious, it means building a fortune.
Mia Scalisi, a street-smart showgirl, has big dreams of leaving behind the small-time supper club she performs at night after night. She wants to see her name in lights—and maybe even on the silver screen. And her brother Nick, an ambitious Mafia capo determined to be the next underworld prince, promises to use the spoils of his new liquor deal to make it happen.
With the career of her dreams within her reach and friends like Al Capone and Johnny Torrio, Mia’s future has never looked brighter, and she turns a blind eye to Nick’s criminal activities and morally bankrupt ways…until it all catches up with them.
Too late, Mia discovers ambition always comes with a price, and that price must be paid—in blood.
When her world implodes, there's only one thing she cares about after the dust settles.
Mia walked out of the dressing room, her coat slung over an arm. She’d changed out of her costume into another white dress, a filmy chiffon number with a low neckline and sparkling beadwork down the front. She was chilly, but she wanted Charlie to get a load of her in it before she covered up with a coat.
She spotted D.C. leaning against the wall just outside and rushed into his arms. “I was hoping you were still here!” she exclaimed, squeezing him. “Wasn’t that exhilarating?”
“More people ought to join show business,” he replied with a grin. “They’d forget all about booze after getting up on a stage like that in a place like this.”
“We just might be the new premier entertainment around here,” Mia said. “And our names will be on the marquee.”
“If that crowd was anything to go by, I think you’re onto something. What are you doing now? Got a hot date tonight?” D.C. smirked. “I noticed Charlie sniffing around out here before the show.”
“They’re both taking me to dinner,” Mia said, shoving his chest a little. “Can’t have much of a date with my brother hanging around.”
D.C. looped her arm through his and they strolled toward the lobby. There was a handful of acts left for the night, so the corridors were still bustling with performers, some stopping to offer brief congratulations. “Well, you’re in for a treat for the rest of your life, then, because I don’t see Nick laying off anytime soon.”
“He will if he knows what’s good for him,” Mia retorted. “How about you? You and Mac heading someplace fun? He doesn’t have a gig tonight?”
“No gig. Took the night off special for me. Says he’s got a surprise.” D.C. shrugged and smiled coyly.
The lobby was chilly, as if the door had just been opened and let the cold air in. Charlie was already walking toward her, an appreciative smile on his face to let her know that her dress had been a good choice.
He greeted her with a light kiss on the cheek, like before, only this time, it lingered a breath longer than it should have. “You were incredible, kid,” he said. “The start of a big career here. Nick’s already got big plans for you. You, too, London.” He shook D.C.’s hand. “Both of you knocked their socks off.”
“Oh, go on,” she said, lightly swatting his arm. “But we were pretty good, weren’t we?” Charlie laughed. “Where’s Nick?”
“He just stepped out a second ago. Vinnie came running in, something about the end of the world with the warehouse.” He jerked his head toward the door. “Come on, let’s go save him.” He pulled her coat from her arm and opened it for her.
“I suppose I can help until Mac gets here,” D.C. said, releasing her arm so she could put on her coat.
She was just reaching into a sleeve when the loud screech of tires from a car careening down the street pierced the air. Mia froze.
In the space between seconds, she became aware of her own breathing, heavy and echoing in her ears, as her head snapped toward the sound.
Then, the glass lobby doors shattered, tiny bits of glass exploding toward them. Charlie shouted and grabbed her, pulling her out of the way. Her cheeks stung, letting her know he hadn’t been fast enough, but all thought stopped when she made out the sound of gunfire an instant later. Nick.
Nick had just stepped outside a second ago, Charlie said. He stepped outside.
Meredith Allison has embraced her nerdiness from youth, with minor jaunts of attempting to be "cool" during high school and college. Spoiler alert: she was unsuccessful at fooling anyone. After this dark period, she returned to the light, embracing her bookish nature and penchant for action and horror films, bloody survivalist video games (she's looking at you, Resident Evil and Call of Duty) interspersed with the occasional sweeping fantasy adventure RPG (Final Fantasy, anyone?). Along the way, she developed her knack for storytelling, which began when she was a mere child-person many moons ago.
Meredith is a writer (and reader) of many kinds of fiction, but in particular spy thrillers, military-esque suspense, and historical crime. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she is by proxy a Huskers fan (GO BIG RED!), as UNL is her undergraduate alma mater, and moonlights as an obligatory Blue Jays fan due to completing her graduate MFA studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.
When she emerges from her writing cave, blinking in dismay at having to be exposed to the cruel light of day yet again, she can be found romping with her two Pomeranians, serving her overlord cat, hanging with her husband, battling it out with the undead or practicing a new kind of magery on her PlayStation, or simply huddled in a dark corner somewhere with just enough light to read a favorite book. Other interests include baking, cooking, and blogging about new restaurants.
What inspired you to write Blood & Whiskey?
I was inspired to write Blood & Whiskey for a few reasons. I’ve always loved mafia films and stories—something about the way tradition, honor, and loyalty go entirely against the laws of the land have always been fascinating to me. Even more so, I’m interested in characters who believe in these ideals, but reluctantly. I wanted to write a story about these themes set during Prohibition, which was really the introduction of organized crime in America, but from the point of view from a young woman. What would it be like to be a woman at this time in history having to make these decisions and deal with these things? That’s what B&W is about. Plus, who doesn’t love the glitz and glamour of the 1920s?
What can we expect from you in the future? Blood & Whiskey is the first in a series of novels about the Scalisi Family. Chiefly, the series will explore Mia Scalisi’s entry into organized crime and her rise to power, and the repercussions that come with it, both in a tactile sense and also psychologically. Blood & Whiskey is her origin story. The next book, Princes of the Lower East Side, picks up the action about a year after B&W. It will release late October 2019.
Do you have any side stories about the characters?
I am planning to write a collection of short stories detailing Mia’s childhood with her brother Nick as orphans, and all of the shenanigans they got up to that shaped who they are at the beginning of Blood & Whiskey. I’m really looking forward to writing that! The first novel mentions a lot of the things they went through and experienced as kids, but this collection will be those stories. It’s titled Blood Comes First.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters?
In Blood & Whiskey, you meet the two main characters, Mia and Nick Scalisi who are siblings. Mia’s a local showgirl in Chicago with a fair amount of popularity, and Nick is, for all intents and purposes, her manager. Mia is carefree, a little spoiled and arrogant, and willing to accept her brother’s criminal ways as just a part of their life. Nick is violent, ambitious, ruthless and cunning, but he’s also a very caring brother who would do anything for his sister. They also have an interesting bunch of associates, both in show business and in the criminal organization. I’ve included a lot of actual historical figures from the time, including Al Capone and Johnny Torrio, two of the most notorious gangsters of the era. It was so much fun giving Al Capone a voice!
If Blood & Whiskey were ever made into a film, who would you want to play the lead?
If Blood & Whiskey ever got made into a film—feature film or Netflix would be awesome!—I would cry hysterically, and then I would hope that the role of Mia went to Eiza Gonzalez. She’s probably best known for playing Darling in Baby Driver. Though Mia is Sicilian and Eiza is Latina, she brings exactly the kind of spunk and spirit as well as the seriousness required for the heavier moments. Plus, aside from being drop-dead gorgeous, she can sing, which is a bonus since Mia is a singer.
What’s your favorite movie? The Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. I think this is the best gangster film that explores the psychology of how this kind of life can affect someone. It’s also got incredible acting, amazing music, and beautiful scenery. It’s a masterpiece!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less.
Intelligent, introverted, moody, indecisive, and empathetic.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Lately, my favorite thing has been to enjoy a cup of chamomile tea before bed with the current book I’m reading. At the moment, it’s Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, and it’s fantastic. I also love to do mixed martial arts workouts and lift weights, and nothing beats a good old nap! Unless it’s playing with my two Pomeranians, Teddy and Gatsby. They keep me on my toes!
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I’d like to think I’d be like Daenerys Targaryen, a literary hero of mine (bend the knee!). That is to say, tough, fair, ruthless when necessary, protective, and loyal.
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