Roosevelt, an old Victorian nestled on the border of upscale Chestnut Hill and middle-class Mt. Airy, is the obsession of two people, Elizabeth Samms and Gordon Roosevelt. Gordon is a realtor who likes to flip properties. Handy man Donovan Smith helps his employer, Gordon Roosevelt eliminate prospective buyers who do not live up to his standards. Protagonist Emma Samms and her autistic son love the house and are willing to fight for it. Will Gordon relinquish control?
“I love writing. I love to write about the ups and downs of life. Most of my stories are fiction with facts loosely weaved in. These facts can come from my own life or from news headlines. My first novel, Getting Roosevelt--a homeowner's nightmare, is a combination of all three. My novels also tend to portray a protagonist with a lot on her plate. This mirrors my own life, I'm always performing a juggling act. I currently write three columns for Examiner.com. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.”
**Your name: Yvonne Mikell
**Your book: Getting Roosevelt—a homeowner’s nightmare
Is this book part of a series? If so, can you give a general description of the series?
When I originally wrote I did not have a series in mind, but from the way I ended it there could be a 2nd book.
Do your characters talk to you? If so, what do they say?
They do talk to me (not in a schizophrenic way). As I’m writing, their words and their attitudes enter my head. I can empathize with them, walk in their shoes, and see things from their perspective.
What was your inspiration for this story?
Originally this story was about my early struggles with my then undiagnosed autistic son. So we are the back story for Elizabeth and Desmond. Those incidents between Elizabeth and Desmond actually happened. It’s like a blur now but when I was going through all of that…
The story of Roosevelt comes from an actual house I’ve been fascinated with for years. The owner refuses to sell so it sits empty. Nice big Victorian house with plenty of yard space it just lent itself to me and my story.
The theft of Kathryn’s home is sadly a reality in Philadelphia. On my blog, I did a story called Plausibility of Plot, in which I explain that for me a story has to have a bit of realism. I provide 5 links to articles concerning home theft in my region. One lady from Philadelphia told a local reporter how she was supposed to get some home improvement work done. In actuality the company went down to City Hall and obtained her deed. She took them to court and the judge explained to her that it looked like she gave the company her house. She did get her house back. There have been numerous stories concerning our City Hall and how its employees cut themselves side deals. For its part, City Hall will now notify all property owners of any changes made on their deeds.
The story line regarding Kathryn Rupurtus is based loosely on rumors I heard concerning a young woman, a mentally challenged woman who inherited her house upon her father’s death. Neighbors befriended her, took advantage and then got her to sign over her house for $1.
How long did it take you to write this book?
The first draft, one month, but because I am a bit of a perfectionist, I kept fine tuning it, tightening it so to speak. Then the outside elements began to occur, the crime of identity theft and lengths people was taking to make their dreams come true, then came mortgage fraud. I began this story in 2005, waited a while, added, waited a while and added some more until I was satisfied with it.
Which character of this book was the easiest to write?
Elizabeth was the easiest because I remembered how I felt going through the early stages of my son’s illness. I was newly separated, couldn’t get my ex-husband to see how our behavior had hurt out son. I was forced to raise him alone. Financially he provided, but I needed emotional support from him and he refused to give it.
Which was the most difficult?
Desmond was the most difficult. I would love to know what goes on in the mind of an autistic child. I know for my son anger is his expression of frustration, but to outsiders he appears to be bad tempered in which a good spanking wouldn’t hurt. Little do they know that spanking only made him escalate.
Who is your favorite character of this book, and why?
I like Donovan Smith. He is a child of the light who shares his faith with Elizabeth. Blood is thicker than water though and that blood pollutes him because he lets it. He loves his fraternal twin, Jonathan aka Gordon Roosevelt, and hangs around him to keep him out of trouble. Yet his being with him draws him into the darkness. Donovan is also going through a grieving period. That grieving is compounded when he sees Elizabeth a dead ringer for his dead wife.
If you could be one character in this book, or in a past book you have written, who would it be?
Kathryn Rupurtus, I wish she had stood her ground and never left Philadelphia. I wish her instincts had kicked in earlier, like when Jonathan showed up on her door step. Not everybody has the ability to see trouble when it enters your realm.
What is the one thing you wish an interview would ask you? And what is the answer?
I wish you had asked what was the message of Getting Roosevelt. The message I am relaying is don’t ignore the warning signs because you want something so badly. Elizabeth let Megan racism’s cloud her thinking. The real estate office was a big clue something was wrong, but she was so incensed by Megan that she ignored all of that when she really should have ran for the hills. Those of us who are stubborn like that will ignore the obvious because we don’t want the other person to think they have the upper hand.
Review 4.5 Stars
The Author does a great job creating her characters. They are very complex and have detail.
The story itself isn't something I would normally read but it is very well written. It has great build and suspense. Leaves you on edge. Great work.