Florida was not always beach resorts, bluehaired retirees, and The Mouse. For centuries, it was a sparsely-settled outback with few towns and an impressive collection of predatory animals. The brave (or batshit-crazy) Americans who lived there mostly worked cattle, popping cows out of the palmetto scrub. But Seminole Indians roamed there too, and before long the place started looking like a subtropical game of Cowboys-and-Indians. But the bullets were real, as was the blood.
QUINTO does not shy away from the nasty facts of the Sunshine State’s genesis. But it also celebrates the bold, foolhardy, ingenious men and women who dared to blaze trails across its swamps and flatwoods. The title characters, Nat and Lucy Quinto, are passionate exemplars of all that could have gone right in Florida’s formation--and all that still could go right.
My name is Jim Chapin. I’m 27 years old, and a lover of Florida’s land and people. I’m a refugee from higher education, and have spent more of my adult life in the state’s flatwoods than in its classrooms. Most of QUINTO was written while I worked in a small-engine repair shop. This is a roundabout way of saying that I have no shiny awards or MFA degrees to show you—all I have is this book, which has been the main focus of my waking life for two years.
I’d love your feedback, reactions, shouts, murmurs. QUINTO is a finished 130,000-word manuscript that is open to your review. I am aiming at a rollout that would eventually bring the book to two occasionally-overlapping groups: 1. residents of Florida and the Southeast who would be excited to read about the strange and little-known history of their own land; and 2. people who like well-written literary fiction from unexpected quarters, wherever they may be. Your suggestions in shaping this book along those lines are greatly appreciated.