Word Count 494
A Story At French Lick
by G. Ackman
I am a writer. Most people think that means I make up my characters and manipulate them to do what I want them to do. However, the reality is that, most of the time, I am merely a conduit. My stories write themselves. I see an image in my mind and from that image comes the story. Sometimes I think it is going to be about one thing, but it turns out that the story wanted to be about something else entirely. That is what happened with Anna. One Sunday morning, I saw Anna, sitting in a garden, wearing a long yellow and white dress, frilly hat, white gloves, holding a white lace parasol. I knew the perfect location for this garden, and I began packing. A few days at the historic French Lick Inn would be the perfect backdrop and inspiration for what I thought would be a romance novel set in the late 1800’s. But Anna had different ideas.
French Lick was named for local salt licks put out for animals and the fur traders (mostly French) who settled in that area of southern Indiana. The resort was built in 1845, and instantly became the Palm Springs of the Midwest. The rich and famous flocked there to take in the healing mineral waters, to be pampered by the attentive staff, and to see and be seen. I intended for Anna to arrive in early summer, a time when the weather is warm but not yet filled with stifling humidity. She would have accompanied her parents there to spend a month at the famous resort. Although a beauty, Anna would not have a steady beau. She was not willing to settle for just anyone, even though her father “encouraged” her to take a few decidedly wealthy gentlemen under consideration. Anna wants more. She doesn’t care if she ever gets married. But she would meet a totally unsuitable young man (a porter), fall in love, and run away to be with him and work as a maid for the rest of her life. That was my intention. But Anna had different ideas.
Walking the manicured grounds and immersed in the architectural details of the hotel, the story was born. I transferred it from my internal hard drive to my laptop in less than a month, sent it off, and now it is on its way up the bestseller ladder. Anna’s unsolved murder and her connection to Al Capone, who often stayed at French Lick, became a hit. The obscure red door elevator, the jail in the basement, and the lookout loft for the gangster’s henchmen all became pivotal elements in Anna’s story. I even have a call from a movie producer wanting me to sell the rights to the novel. Perhaps I will. Anna wants her story to be told, you see. Maybe we will even find out who strangled her on that moonless night in 1932 and put her body in the lake.