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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Author Guest Post: Duncan Whitehead

cover courtesy of publisher

Inspiration for the book – The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Society

I was inspired to write this book by the actual neighborhood itself, Gordonston. It is a small neighborhood about a mile and a half to the East of downtown Savannah.  I moved there in 2005 and found the place very interesting.

I was a stay at home Dad at the time and I would spend most afternoons walking around the neighborhood, especially the community and private park which was for the exclusive use of the residents.  It was kind of odd, I would walk along these tree lined avenues, and passed these beautiful large houses and I would see no one.  It was tranquil and peaceful but yet sinister as the place seemed deserted as of course everyone was either at work or busy inside.

It struck me that it would make an excellent setting for a murder mystery and I used the community park, which is central to the neighborhood to bring all the characters and plots together.

I noticed several women walking their dogs one afternoon and came upon the idea of a dog walking club, with exclusive membership for those who lived in the small neighborhood.  

That formed the basis of the story:  A group of women with secrets and hidden agendas who, to a stranger, seemed perfectly normal and pleasant.  

What also inspired the story were the large houses in Gordonston……I would often think about what went on behind the closed doors of these beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns…..what secrets the occupants may have.  I thought it would be fun to create a scenario that somehow many of these neighbors were connected by events from the past, causing them to want murder or have killed a fellow resident of the neighborhood.

Once inspired to write about my neighborhood, I used real life events that would become the catalyst or part catalyst for the plot.

There was actually a real alderman living in the neighborhood and I based the character of Elliott very loosely on him, he was, like Elliot, recently widowed and I weaved that into my story, very loosely of course and developed his character to have a back story that would lead back to the neighborhood.

I am also inspired by great TV shows and movies that have plot twists and interconnecting characters, such as Desperate Housewives, Lost, The Usual Suspects, Crash and Magnolia.  I love a story that come together and leaves the reader, or viewer, shocked or surprised by twists or connections.


Something is not quite right in the leafy Savannah neighborhood of Gordonston.

As friends and fellow members of her afternoon cocktail club gather to mourn the death and lament the life of Thelma Miller, not all is what it seems.

As old friends vie for the attention of widower, Alderman and mayoral candidate Elliott, jealousies surface and friendships are strained. An old woman with a dark secret and an infamous uncle plots her revenge for a perceived wrong done over thirty years before, a once successful children’s writer with his own secret is haunted by memories of the past and aspiring model Kelly Hudd has just won the trip of a lifetime.

As secrets are revealed and history, both old and recent, unravel and an intertwined web of deceits and lies surfaces in the middle class neighborhood a killer lurks and is anyone really who they seem to be?

A mysterious European gentleman in South America, a young Italian count parading the streets of Paris and a charitable and kind hearted nephew recently arrived from India add to the remarkable assortment of characters in this story of intrigue, deceit and revenge. What is the secret a recently retired accountant is trying to hide and just why did the former showgirl and attractive sixty two year old widow Carla Zipp really have plastic surgery?

As the plot thickens and the Georgia summer temperature rises we discover who is destined for an early-unmarked grave in the wooded park that centers the tree-lined avenues of Gordonston.

A mysterious organization with links to organized crime, a handsome fire fighter who can do no wrong and a trio of widows with deep hidden agendas compound a story of simplistic complexity.


author photo courtesy of publisher
Duncan Whitehead was born in England in 1967. After a successful career in the Royal Navy where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser onboard some of the world's largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world's most luxurious and exotic places.

Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment. The book, a thriller, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, is set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived.

His passion for comedy saw submissions to many online satire news sites and a stint performing as a stand- up comedian.

He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children's soccer coach.
In 2011 Duncan returned to South America, spending six months in Brazil and a few months in Paraguay before travelling to the Middle-East and Europe before returning to the United States to settle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and lists his hobbies and passions as cooking, the Israeli self defense art of Krav Maga and the pressure point martial art Dim- Mak.

Duncan has written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for an assortment of web sites both in the US and UK.

As well as his other activities he performs volunteer work, as a hospice volunteer visitor and teaches English to refugees arriving in South Florida.

He has penned a further novel; a comedy set in Manhattan, The Reluctant Jesus, which is set to be published early 2013 and is working on the script for a potential sit-com.

Duncan has one daughter, Keira, and lives alone.