Jackson Speed and the Photo Shoot

You ladies are lucky there's no abolitionist poetry around!

You ladies are lucky there’s no abolitionist poetry around!


A friend of mine, Kate Sherrill, will be painting the cover of the next Jackson Speed book. Kate wanted to put together some photographs of people in period clothing, and she will paint from those photographs.

So yesterday I went out to the Dress Up Box in High Shoals, Georgia, where Mary Delaplane dressed me up as Jackson Speed. Kate found some volunteers to stand in for some of the other characters from the novel. Sam Chafin is our chief Blood Tub bad guy, looking all sinister with a switch-blade comb. Jim Kenaston portrayed a disapproving and jealous Allan Pinkerton. And Leah Morris, a student at UGA, stood in for Kate Warne, the female Pinkerton detective who convinces Speed to hang around Baltimore and save Abe Lincoln’s life.

Leah as Kate Warne and Kate Sherrill, the cover artist.

Leah as Kate Warne and Kate Sherrill, the cover artist.


It took Leah 20 minutes or more to get her hair done and the dress on, and we were done taking pictures in about half that time.

We had all kinds of trouble finding a pair of pants that covered my ankles. Everything Mary gave me was much too short. In the end, she handed me a pair of size 38 pants that were enormous around the waist, and so we slid those pants halfway down my hips to cover my ankles and the problem was solved. I was sort of like a Civil War-era gangsta Jackson Speed with my pants pulled down.

Kate checks to see if I broke her camera.

Kate checks to see if I broke her camera.


While trying to find a pair of pants that fit, I was reminded of a story I heard about Abraham Lincoln. As I everyone knows, Abe Lincoln was a tall man, and especially tall for his time. A newspaper reporter once pointed out to him that he was tall, and asked him how long a man’s legs should be.

“Long enough to reach the floor,” Lincoln replied.

I’ve always gotten a kick out of that story.

John and Sam and I examining the Civil War pistol Mary Delaplane brought to use as a prop.

John and Sam and I examining the Civil War pistol Mary Delaplane brought to use as a prop.


I know you’ve heard tales of the high-society, wealth and glamour lifestyle of fashion models. This being my first foray into that lifestyle, I can tell you that our models were well-paid. My wife Jean baked up a batch of brownies that we took to the photo shoot, and I got everyone’s address so that when the book comes out I can send everyone a copy of “Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs.”

I am working on the final edits of the novel and expect it to be released in a few weeks. In the meantime, if you’ve not yet read “Jackson Speed: The Hero of El Teneria,” I would recommend that you do so. It’s probably the most fun you can have reading about the Mexican-American War.

Our four models portraying characters from the book.

Our four models portraying characters from the book.

Back cover of Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs

While writing about the night of the red ballot last night, I topped 50,000 words on the next Jackson Speed novel. I’m shooting for 80,000 total, and I feel pretty confident that you Jackson Speed fans will be able to put “Jackson Speed and the Blood Tubs” on your Christmas wishlist.

So this morning I’m kicking around some thoughts for the text on the back cover (because it’s all about the marketing, don’t ye know) and I’ve come up with the paragraphs below.

Here’s what I’ve got for the back cover:

Allan Pinkerton called it “the Night of the Red Ballot.” It was the night that president-elect Abraham Lincoln’s would-be assassin was selected among the members of the Blood Tubs. Seated at the head of the room was a sinister Corsican with round-rimmed glasses and a thin, almost weak frame. Ferrandini had sworn that the Black Republican would never live see the White House and took a vow that he would sacrifice his own life so long as it meant Lincoln’s death.

Among those gathered in the room was Jackson Speed, confident that it did not matter whether he pulled a white ballot or a red ballot, he was in no danger. Ferrandini’s plot had foiled Pinkerton’s plans and Ol’ Jackie Speed had nothing to fear.

Or did he?

America’s reluctant adventurer, inadvertent hero and all-around scoundrel is back, and he’s on a mission. Sent by Allan Pinkerton to save Abraham Lincoln and the Union, Speedy can’t keep his hands off one of Pinkerton’s detectives (and any other belles of Baltimore who cross his path) long enough to stay focused on the plotting of the Blood Tubs.

Can Lincoln survive long enough to make it to the inauguration? With Pinkerton Detective Jackson Speed on the case, it seems unlikely.