One of North Florida’s best-loved writers has released yet another literary visit to her hometown of Chattahoochee. This is the 7th published work for Rhett DeVane.
Food and area restaurants figure prominently in many of Ms. DeVane’s writings. So it seemed all together appropriate that this interview to discuss her new book took place at Tallahassee’s Hopkins Eatery at Lake Ella Plaza. The name of that book is “Parade of Horribles” and the first question was if there was any connection with the phrase “Basket of Deplorables” uttered by candidate Hillary Clinton before last year’s presidential election.
“No it didn’t, but I’ve had a number of people ask me that,” DeVane laughed. “It actually originated from a friend of mine who is a mental health counselor. And we were talking back and forth and she said, ‘Rhett, you’re like most people; you take a set of pretty unrelated incidents and turn them into your own private parade of horribles.’ And I said, ‘You know, that would make a great book title.’”
DeVane pointed out that the characters who populate this novel will be familiar to those who have read her early works.
“The set of characters within ‘Parade of Horribles’ is actually the exact same set as in my very first book, which was ‘Mad Hatter’s Guide to Chocolate’ and it’s the continuation of their story,” she said. “But they’ve been in bits and pieces of the other books. You’ve seen them all along, but now I’m coming back full circle to put them in other situations and highlight them again.”
Another connection to previous DeVane novels is the fact the tiny Gadsden County town of Chattahoochee is the scene of so much pivotal action.
“I Love Chattahoochee; it’s a great little town!” she exclaimed. “And I’m looking forward to going over and doing a book signing at the Rutabaga Café. They actually gave me permission to use them to set scenes in the book in the Rutabaga Café, so Chef Billy and I have been talking back and forth and he’s read the scenes. He’s very excited about it!”
So what is the novel actually about?
“’Parade of Horribles’ is actually about the nature of fear and how sometimes we build things into something we can fear; it’s an emotional type of thing and then there are those things out there we don’t even see coming that we have to fear.”
And most importantly, DeVane added, it explores how to not let that fear become all-consuming; a challenge made even tougher, she said, because so many threats today are beyond one’s control.
“There’s cyberstalking in the book (involving) a child that’s in danger. The main character in the book, Jake Witherspoon, is a victim of PTSD from a hate crime that was actually in the first book and when he starts to receive these text messages, he’s very frightened and thinks that somebody’s after him again. So it is mainly about the nature of fear and how to not let that take over your life.”
Since, as she mentioned before, there are connections between this book and her two earliest novels, DeVane said they’re essentially being born again.
“I’ve had a lot of people who have asked them to be released in paperback again because the little publisher out in Texas that originally did both of the books – the ‘Mad Hatter’s Guide to Chocolate’ and ‘Up the Devil’s Belly’ – has since gone under and we’re actually putting those back into print with new covers, so we’ll have the second edition of both books out within the next year.”
As to the availability of DeVane’s books 3 through 7, of which the latter is “Parade of Horribles”… “Here in Tallahassee of course at My Favorite Books – I love them; that’s where I had the book launch – and all of the titles are available online through online vendors (like) Amazon. Just put Rhett DeVane in and they come up and you can read about them or go to my website and read about them.”