Tell me about yourself! How old are you, and where are you from?
My name is Clare Blando. I was born and raised in Houston, TX but I’ve lived in Kansas City since graduating from Mizzou in 1982 and moving to Kansas City where I met my husband. I’m 58 years old and have been married for 35 years. We have four grown children and two grandchildren.
Give us a summary of your book!
THE BOOTLEGGER’S FRIEND is based on the true story of Johnny Lazia, a gifted politician who is loved and respected in Kansas City. Lazia embodies rough-and-tumble politics in the 1920s. He meets Giovanni Blando, recent immigrant from Sicily and nephew of Lazia’s mentor. Giovanni becomes a bootlegger and Johnny’s closest friend despite their outward differences. Giovanni is large and loud. Johnny is small, soft spoken and dapper. The men discover shared interests in liquor, poker and politics. For a decade, the friends live decadent lifestyles in Kansas City, defy Prohibition and ignore election laws. Convinced Prohibition will be short-lived, Giovanni begs Johnny to pursue honest endeavors, but Johnny’s association with the underworld leads to the infamous Union Station Massacre, and he conspires to help one of the thugs escape the city. Johnny is blind to the danger and Giovanni is distressed to be involved in the conspiracy. The criminal gets away, but Giovanni fears for his friend’s safety and pressures Johnny to quit the criminal activities that are crumbling the world around them. It begins to work until a shocking crime changes Kansas City forever.
What inspired you to write this book?
My inspiration was a desk. It started when the liquor company the family owned, and my husband works for, sold and was moving to a new building. We inherited my father-in-law’s desk, which had been in the office since Prohibition. I asked my father-in-law where his dad had obtained the desk (thinking he’d say some furniture store). He explained that it belonged to a man named Johnny Lazia who was a political boss and ran the Northside Democratic Club. After Lazia was assassinated, his father and Jimmy Balestreri went to clear out the political club’s offices and brought the desk back to his office at the liquor company.
The story compelled me to learn more. I began studying books that covered that period in history. I was stunned to learn how important and prominent Lazia was in Kansas City. I couldn’t get it off my mind and decided someone needs to write a book and it might as well be me.
If you could pick one song to describe this book, what would it be?
“Just a Job to Do” by Genesis
Have you written any fiction novels as well? If not, would you and what genre?
My book is Historical Fiction but although it contains mostly historical events, it is fiction nonetheless. I would be open to writing one that is purely fiction, but wow that would take a lot of thought. I might continue The Bootlegger’s Friend through the Depression up to World War Two.
What are two of your favorite books? Least favorite?
My absolute favorite is Gone With The Wind (better than the movie but the movie is incredible). After that, I like anything by Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl) and Erik Larson (Dead Wake, Issacs’s Storm)
The least favorite is, without hesitation, The Road by Cormack McCarthy. That was the worst book I ever read and only finished it because I was hoping something would happen but it never did.
Do you have any other hobbies, or businesses that you would like to share?
I used to enjoy sewing but gave it up because I lost dexterity in my hands and because my eyes are getting worse with age. I owned a shop at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for 11 years selling children’s costumes. I sold that when my youngest child started high school.
Do you have any upcoming book specials/giveaways or events?
II will continue to give away free books periodically through Amazon Kindle. I can only offer them every 90 days and one just ended so I can do that again after June 3. I’m looking into other offers too but haven’t decided on any yet.
How can readers keep up with you? Post your social media usernames!
Link to Kathy Quinn Forum feature: https://fox4kc.com/?s=2019-06 (The story about my book begins about 12 minutes into the show. If the link doesn’t work, I think it’s still available on the Fox 4 website)
Anything else you would like to share?.
My husband, son, and three brothers-in-law still work in the liquor business. My son is the 4th generation to carry on the tradition. They are very proud of their history.
Chanel, thank you so much for doing this. I am one of those authors who knows how to string words together but could use some help marketing so I appreciate your involvement. If any of the links don’t work, let me know and I’ll try and figure it out.
Pick up a copy of her book available on Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/Bootleggers-Friend-Johnny-Lazias-Story-ebook/dp/B07PBKPVCJ/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_2?keywords=clare+blando&qid=1553778522&s=gateway&sr=8-2-fkmrnull
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