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Former Brandon Mayor Releasing New Book Series This Spring

Brandon Sun, January 15, 2020

January 15, 2020

As a first-time author, Shari Decter Hirst had an extremely busy 2019, during which she managed to pump out five volumes in her “Bootleggers’ Chronicles” book series about 1920s Philadelphia.

The former Brandon mayor, who served in office from 2010 to 2014, is showing no signs of slowing down with her writing. Earlier this month, Decter Hirst told the Sun she’s planning on publishing another series this spring about the seedy underbelly of Prohibition-era United States, except this time she’s moving the action to the Florida Everglades.

Decter Hirst recently told the Sun that this new trilogy, dubbed “The Rum Runners’ Chronicles,” follows recently widowed Edith Duffy as she tries to establish a speakeasy in a small town located just outside Miami.

But when this strong-willed woman starts a lucrative rum-running operation she attracts the attention of indignant locals who attempt to destroy her.

Just like her previous series, Decter Hirst thought it was important to put in hours and hours of historical research to make sure this new story was as authentic as possible.

“I wanted to capture all of the vibrancy and energy of the ‘20s,” she said. “So much was changing, especially for women, and it wasn’t just the clothes they wore and how they talked … it was access to education and the ability to own property and just that sense of independence.”

However, Decter Hirst admitted that this research portion proved to be a lot trickier than last time, since a lot of the reporting on rum-running in Florida at that time was soaked in sensationalism.

“People were intrigued by the romance of being a pirate and it was hard to get facts,” she said. “So sometimes you had to read between the lines of star-struck adventurers to get the reality of what was actually happening.”

On a personal level, Decter Hirst said putting this new series together has been extremely gratifying, since she notices that the writing and editing process is a lot easier compared to last year.

Part of this newfound confidence is due to her support network, which includes vigorous beta readers and editors who regularly point her in the right direction when it comes to grammar and story structure.

“There’s this romantic idea that the writer is a lone figure sitting in front of a typewriter in an attic somewhere,” she said. “But I have a really good team around me and that is as important as the plot of the story that’s in my head.”

That being said, Decter Hirst mentions that your own individual writing process is still crucial and can either make or break an author’s productivity.

“I always start with an outline so that I know how the series is going to end, as well as each book,” she said. “By the time I sit down and start writing … I’ve got a good solid story laid out and then it’s just a matter of putting words in the mouths of my characters.”

For anyone who is looking to follow in her footsteps, Decter Hirst said the most important thing a prospective self-published author can do is simply start writing and get that first draft out of their system.

While that initial effort will always turn out very rough, it will serve as a valuable roadmap for future success.

“And the second draft is always a lot different, as you refine it and begin to clear away a lot of the rumble to find the real story,” Decter Hirst said.

The first entry in “The Rum Runners’ Chronicles,” titled “Gathering Storm,” is set to be released sometime in March. The following sequels, “Storm Surge” and “Eye of the Storm,” should be published in April and May, respectively.

In the meantime, Decter Hirst can’t think of a better time to debut her new series about Prohibition now that the roaring ‘20s have finally made their return in the new year.
“I think that society is ready for some of that excitement and glamour again, so we’ll see what happens,” she said.

Decter Hirst’s other written works can be ordered on Amazon or purchased locally at Super Thrifty Pharmacy, Lady of the Lake or Coles in Shoppers Mall.

Hirst writes under the pen name of Sherilyn Decter.

» Twitter: @KyleDarbyson