From Ice Wagon to Club House: The Life of Jude Mooney

Viola Russell
From Ice Wagon to Club House: The Life of Jude Mooney


Red Rose Publishing
Release Date
August 2013
Mainstream fiction

Probation? No booze? What?

Jude Mooney, the man who began his working career on a horse, is building an empire--but at what cost to his life, soul, and love?

Jude Mooney, the son of poor but proud Irish immigrants, is delivering ice on a horse-drawn cart to New Orleans families with his friend Pete when the novel opens in 1914. When his brother James commits suicide after a banking scandal, a devastated Jude looks for easy money and good times in the notorious Storyville, but his time there is marked by disillusionment an tragedy.

When he flees Storyville and the disapproval of his parents, Jude finds himself in his family's native Ireland. It is there that he meets the fiery revolutionary Maeve, the young woman who will set him on fire and change his life. When he then flees Ireland with a young family, circumstances force Jude to enter the world of bootlegging and horse-racing.

BOOK INTERVIEW on November 2013
Interview by Laura

Hi Viola, welcome once again to The Romance Reviews!

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

The Prohibition Era has always fascinated me. My father actually bootlegged in the 1930's. Like many people in New Orleans during that time, my father Sam and his family were dirt poor. His first wife died of tuberculosis during that time, and my dad decided his family wouldn't starve. He'd do what it took to survive. His mother said, "Your father would roll over in his grave if he knew you were doing anything illegal." Sam responded, "My father would roll over in his grave if he knew we were starving." He and his longtime friend then started bootlegging.

A similar scene takes place between Jude and his mother, and like my dad, Jude and his friend begin bootlegging. I also wanted to look at Storyville and WWI. I'd looked at the WWII era in LOVE AT WAR, but that was a tribute to my mother's era. My father was older than she. He was a young man during the WWI.

Q: What kind of research did you have to do in the course of writing this book? Please share a fun fact or unique experience.

The research was extensive. I'd heard tales of Prohibition and Storyville, but I knew no hard facts. Sam never talked about those things in front of me because he belonged to an era that would have seen such talk as inappropriate in front of a young daughter. Local libraries know me well, and what I learned about Storyville was by turns eye-opening and blood-curdling.

Storyville was the part of town that boasted legalized prostitution (and sometimes drug use went with it). Just about everything went on those streets. Scantily clad women stood in doorways and on balconies. Many respectable people engaged in all kinds of kinky behavior in the homes of many now-deceased madams. These men were respectable judges, doctors, and clergymen. They also showed up on Sundays for church and hid their sins. One very positive element of the whole Storyville experience, however, was that prostitution had been removed from the regular neighborhoods. When the district was closed at the insistence of the Navy in 1917 (they didn't want their sailors contracting diseases), prostitute took their business to the neighborhoods. As I read about WWI and the Irish Uprising, I found the numbers of people who died amazing. Too many people die in war.

Q: Please tell us more about Jude Mooney. What kind of man is he?

Jude Mooney is loosely based on my father. My dad Sam died when I was twelve. I dedicated the book to him: "Sam, I hardly knew ye." He was a larger than life figure who survived through difficult times. Like Jude, his first wife died of tuberculosis during the Depression. My mother was his fourth wife, and I was born when he was fifty-seven. Jude, like my father, bootlegged to save his family. Like my father, he also trained race-horses and prize fighters. Jude is a fighter and survivor--one who possesses a great deal of heart and love. So was my father. They love what is theirs and are willing to fight to protect anything or anyone they hold dear, even if it means defying authority.

Q: What about Maeve? What is it about her that draws Jude?

Maeve is Jude's ultimate dream. Her Irish accent reminds him of his mother and the women he loves. In many ways, she brings him home--not only to New Orleans but also to the Irish roots that call to him. She is like many fiery Irish women who have fought for their rights against Britain and Ireland's enemies. She is the ultimate Irish survivor, very much like Grainne O'Malley in PIRATE WOMAN. Jude is drawn to her fire, her beauty, and her loyalty. She is willing to kill for Ireland and for her family.

Q: What is the most romantic thing that Jude did for Maeve? What is your favourite scene? Why?

Asking a writer to pick a favorite scene is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child; however, one very powerful scene is also a very romantic one. It takes place when Jude returns from fighting in WWI and learns Maeve has given birth to twin sons. Their reunion brought tears to my eyes as I edited. For me, it has power, poignancy, and romance.

Here's an excerpt. Enjoy!

Jude's heart knocked against his rib cage in a mixture of intense trepidation and joy. He moved with Maeve to her mother and held out his hands gingerly, running a hand over the downy red hair covering one small head. With the other, he touched the cheek of the other baby, who sucked its finger. It! He didn't even know their sex. He looked at Maeve. "What are their names?"

Maeve took the red-haired baby from her mother. "This is Daniel, and Paul is his brother." She smiled at him almost shyly, hopefully. "One's named for your father. The other for my Da."

Jude nodded numbly, feeling as if he'd walked into a dream. When he thought that he could have died at the front and never known his sons, his knees almost buckled. It took all of his strength not to stagger. Swallowing hard, Jude took the other baby in his arms. Both babies were undeniably Moonies.

Wrapping one arm around Maeve, Jude whispered close to her ear, "I promise you that I'll always take care of you and our sons. Always." With that, he kissed her long and tenderly. When he looked up, Jude was alone with Maeve. Kathleen had discreetly removed herself from the room.

Q: Which character is the hardest to write? Why is it so?

James and Maureen were very hard to write. In many ways, James is like Jude. They both want the best for those they love, and James is ambitious. What James lacks is Jude's inner strength. When he's caught embezzling, he sees no way out but suicide. Jude, on the other hand, is a survivor. I also found Maureen difficult. She has almost no moral compass, but I had to show the reasons for her cunning and often desperate behavior. Many poor women found themselves in Storyville, and she also is trying to survive in a world made for the rich. She's treacherous but alluring--a true Siren of old.

Q: What scene was most difficult to write, either because of its emotional intensity or level of technical difficulty?

James' suicide was extremely difficult to write. He's like so many people who have promise but whose potential remains unfulfilled. Conveying James' desperation and Jude's horror took a great deal from me. Jude sees his brother commit suicide. That's an image no one can ever forget and continually haunts Jude. Some of the Storyville scenes also were difficult to write. Many young girls were forced into situations that were frightening and destroyed their childhoods.

Q: What is it about writing historical fiction that draws you?

I've always been a fan of history. I love historical novels. For example, I'm a huge fan of Philippa Gregory's books on the Tudors. I also love books and movies on WWI and WWII. I admire the people of those eras. Writing historical fiction allows me to learn about other cultures and times. It also challenges me intellectually, and I'm a researcher. I love delving into old records, etc. I also have written the historical novels to celebrate my family and my roots. LOVE AT WAR was a valentine to my mother's era. PIRATE WOMAN helped me explore my Irish roots. FROM ICE WAGON TO CLUB HOUSE has helped me explore the era that shaped my father. In Jude, I created a character very much like him.

Q: What's up next for you?

I'm currently writing another mystery, and I'm busy with plotting. I also want to write a sequel to ICE WAGON, written from the perspective of Jude's children.

It's a pleasure to have you with us, Viola!


Viola Russell is the pen name of Susan Weaver, a local New Orleans writer. She is a student of history, loves travel, and is happiest at her computer.



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Viola is giving away 3 ebook giveaways of FROM ICE WAGON TO CLUB HOUSE! Thanks, Viola!


For all Featured Book Interviews, TRR is sponsoring a prize!

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Archangel's Legion by Nalini Singh
The Hostage by Carolyn Wren
From Ice Wagon to Club House: The Life of Jude Mooney by Viola Russell
To Love a Highland Dragon by Ann Gimpel
That Pearly Drop by Jianne Carlo
Claiming Tara by Laurie Fitzgerald
Cast Off by KC Burn
The Boys of Summer by Sarah Madison

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