HISTORY IMAGINED: Hank Dempsey, Villain

HISTORY IMAGINED: Hank Dempsey, Villain

Hank Dempsey (Villain)

The antagonist featured in Indigo Sky pens the driving force of his addictions

After realizing his need for drugs, alcohol and money was all he cared about, Hank Dempsey tried to run, but trouble met him at each juncture. His birth, life and death reveal his path of destruction. Addictions controlled his life. Part of my book is loosely based on the real life of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, syndicated columnist, lawyer, art critic and addict.

GI: Where did you grow up and who loved you?

HD: Dubbed Hank Dempsey when I was born on September 11, 1836, in New York City, I was the pride and joy of my father, Reverend Henry Dempsey, abolitionist and my mother Abbey Wells Dempsey. At six-years old, father considered me a bright boy because I had learned to read almost without help.

GI: What influence did your birth family have on you?

 HD: My father was an outspoken abolitionist minister at a time when anti-slavery enthusiasm was not popular, even in the urban North. Father was also a ticket-agent on the Underground Railroad where escaped slaves were safely transported to safe cities. The moral lessons learned at home were principles hard to maintain among my peers, especially when expressed with my father’s exuberance.

GI: How do you feel about your family, and your father who defies most of societies attitudes about slavery?

HD: I tried my hand at haranguing a multitude upon the subject of Freedom, with as little success as most apostles, and with only less than their crowd of martyrdom, because, though small boys are more malicious than men, they cannot hit so hard. These experiences inspired me to write about the ‘truth’ of freedom. Mother was ill for years and died when a few months after my twelfth birthday. My mother’s suffering may have brought out in me an obsession with mortality. She seemed to have an indescribable dread of death, as of the dying itself. Mother had an appalling sense of the fearful struggle, which separates the soul from the body. 

GI: Where did you get schooled?

My literary skills followed me into the Poughkeepsie Collegiate School where I had my debut as editor of the College Hill Mercury, a student publication that showed my creative literary bent at the age of fourteen. I was expelled for insubordination and eventually ended up in Union College, Schenectady, New York. I took some intensive courses in medicine. And in 1857, I had been an anesthesiologist during minor surgery and remember being asked by surgeons for my opinions on the actions of various courses of anesthesia. There, having been asked by the University President, Rev. Nott, to write a song for the commencement ceremony of the 1856 class, I wrote the Song to Old Union. I understand they still sing that song.

GI: What is your favorite occupation?

HD: Writing. I am known as an American author, journalist, and explorer; best known for my autobiographical book that I wrote in 1857, The Hasheesh Eater. I was also the author of many works of short fiction, essays, science reporting and art criticism.

GI: How did you meet your wife?

Leila Osborn Dempsey

HD: Leila and I met at the Catskill Mountain House, in the New York Mountains, when she was only seventeen. In the woods one day, she passed by my group and stopped to listen to the stories I was telling. I said that this was only for children, but the kids hollered to let her stay. Afterwards, I walked her back to the hotel, and found her charming. I pursued a relationship. When I discovered that she had a dowry, and that her father would give her an allowance a husband would handle, I asked her to marry me. I thought my love for her was real, but after thinking it through, it was the money motivation that drew me in, not her beauty. Although I made a good living with my syndicated column, her allowance gave me more luxuries than I could afford on my salary. I depended on that extra money for my busy life and excesses.

What are your excesses?

HD: Already plagued by a history of frailty and ill health, I self-administered one or another treatment of drugs regularly used for relief of pain and various other symptoms. My curiosity, if not my health, was nurtured by these treatments.  It was my friendship with Mr. Anderson of the Poughkeepsie Apothecary that opened the door to active experimentation with a variety of drugs, not for cure but for exploration. But he warned me of the dangers, and to prove it, he showed me one bottle with a skull and cross-bones. He emphasized not to play around with these poisons, that they could kill me. With a disregard to my own safety, I made upon myself the trial of the effects of every strange drug and chemical that the laboratory could produce. Mr. Anderson had no idea of my obsessive behavior. Drugs and alcohol lured me. Time seemed endless, when it was only a fleeting thirty-seconds. I sensed the knowing nods of my audience, who judged that I had merely underestimated the lure. The memory wooed me continually like an irresistible sorceress, as did the occasional drink of alcohol with women of the night. Then with the ingestion of the drugs all became habitual. I shared with my school buddies by supplying them with these horrendous so-called medicines. My friends unwittingly migrated to me like swans to water.

 GI: Who are your best friends?

HD: I thought my best friend was Rork Millburn. He invited me to join him to go across the country to Yosemite. The plan was for me to journal our adventures while he gathered resource material to create paintings when back home in his studio. We were vacationing at the Catskill Mountain House, in the mountains of New York, to rest up for the trip. When we got to the Mountain House, Leila went out for a walk alone. Rork was out painting and heard her scream. He ran to her aid, and saved her from drowning. From that moment on he was infatuated with her. He had no idea who she was.

GI: What did Rork do once he discovered Leila was your wife?

HD: I introduced Rork and Leila before dinner that evening. Then I found out that Rork apologized to Leila if he had done anything offensive when he pulled her from the water. Rork knew I had a drug and drinking problem, and also knew of my relationship with my lady friend, Sissy Lanweihr. Unknown to Leila and Rork, I invited her to the Mountain House. At dinner, Rork was appalled at my blatant flirting with Sissy. His final stamp of disapproval came when I was verbally abusive to Leila. As drugs and drinking took an increasing toll on my life, Leila turned to Rork for comfort. Rork encouraged Leila to divorce me.

GI: When and where were you happiest?

HD: I can’t remember when I was ever happy. Maybe when I was a boy, but I was always in trouble at school. The only friends I had were the druggies, and crazy like me. Maybe when Leila and I married, I could have been happy, but alas, unfortunately for me, I could not give up my habits and addictions.

GI: Do you pay someone back for hurting you, or getting in your way?

HD: I did just that. I shot Rork when he was out for a morning stroll on our visit in New York City, and left him for dead. But he lived. Leila then had compassion for him. It didn’t do much good to shoot him and commit a crime that would destroy my marriage and perhaps even get me hung. That’s when Leila put an ad in the paper requesting a divorce. My lady friend, Sissy, was waiting for me at the St Nicolas Hotel. I sent for her, and we ran. On our way to St Joseph for supplies, we bumped into Rork and Leila at the home of Rork’s friend, Alex Major, who was an acquaintance of mine. When Rork and I argued and got into a scuttle, I pulled out my gun. Alex shot me. As I lay on the ground, Alex said, “It’s only a shoulder wound, we’ll get it fixed up.” Leila had asked me to sign the divorce papers. I begged Leila not to divorce me and screamed at Sissy, who had began to whine and holler about my getting shot, to get out of my life. I said that I first loved Leila and if I could make a choice today, I would choose Leila. Sissy shot me in the face . . . dead.

Author’s Notes:

My book, Indigo Sky, is a story loosely based on the love affair of 19th century Hudson River artist, Albert Bierstadt & debutante Rosalie Osborn Ludlow, wife of syndicated journalist, lawyer, critic, womanizer, alcohol and drug addict, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, who died at the age of thirty-four from drug abuse and tuberculosis. Albert & Rosalie married, they never had children. Rosalie died a few years later from tuberculosis.

Albert Bierstadt worked on immense paintings of the landscapes he had sketched in the new West. One of his masterpieces is his “Domes of Yosemite.” 10 feet high by 15 feet wide. Originally commissioned for $25,000 by LeGrand Lockwood for his country home in Norwalk, CT. The painting was sold when Mr. Lockwood died and his home was mortgaged, his wife sold the painting to a New York Auction gallery for $5100, then sold to Horace Fairbanks for $5000 who trucked the painting to his home and business (Platform Scale) and built a gallery for the work. The painting was hung in the gallery of the St Johnsbury Athenaeum, Vermont in the rear of the building of the library.

Domes of Yosemite Oil by 19th century Hudson River painter, Albert Bierstadt (who is known as Rork Millburn in Indigo Sky) 10feet x15 feet wide

Domes of Yosemite 4×5 feet oil






Indigo Sky Trailer: Preview YouTube video I#36491CE

Indigo Sky for reader who enjoy historical romance! @AmazonKindle http://amzn.to/2nWqbcq Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2j0LXLE
Author page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA


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“A beautifully spun tale of love, heartache, adventure and sinister perils….” – David S.

Indigo Sky book cover

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Listening to the radio

First transistor portable radio

Recently, I wrote this blog for C.D. Hersh’s post at Soul Mate Publishing. The invitation to their blog guest spot came along at a perfect time, when my print book and audiobook are practically on my doorstep. Now, with the changing and the rapid growth of the book business, authors like myself, are looking for fresh ways to capture a new audience.

Listening to the book

Headphones to listen to the books

Readers and listeners have been lured to audio books, but then so have narrators. It’s a, pardon the pun, novel opportunity for actors to perform. Audible.com, an audio company owned by Amazon, has a large pool of professional actors as narrators, and producers who are signing on more and more celebrities. Very often listeners buy based on who is performing. They follow a narrator, like readers follow an author. My actor, Jane Oppenheimer, has brought my book, Indigo Sky, to another level. I like her style and how she interacts with my characters. Here’s her website for your perusal and for contact: Janeoppenheimervoice.com.

Lone Ranger & Tonto

Lone Ranger & Tonto

With the stirring notes of the William Tell Overture and a shout of “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!” The Lone Ranger debuts on Detroit’s WXYZ radio station, 1933. 

Do you remember the old radio programs and the dramatizations, the stories, the mysteries, the comedies? We all sat around and listened. We used our imagination, we made our own visuals. Dagwood and Blondie (the Bumsteads). The Shadow Knows, Great Gildersleeve, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and more. I even listened to tap dancing on the Children’s Hour on Sundays. Storytelling is older than Moses, you remember him, right? People were telling stories long before writing stories.

You can discuss finances with your narrator. You will need to discuss the time frame as well. The narrator provides a sample. It’s quite workable.

So how do you hire an actor to produce an audiobook? ACX.com has a great website with information and narrators. If you would like to work or interview Jane Oppenheimer, you can request her on Audible.

Here’s the direct link to the author page at acx.com.

Print book, eBook, Audiobook

Print book, eBook, Audiobook

Indigo Sky, historic romance, now an Amazon eBook, will also shortly be available in print book and audiobook. Watch for details.

One liner: A dream marriage becomes a trap of addiction, lies and women

Back Cover Blurb: In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.

Get a taste of the story . . . check out the trailer.

Follow Gail:

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1K4GVQA

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Trailer:              http://bit.ly/29xUJ1H

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Visit C.D. Hersh on my blog post last week and discover their work as authors.








Indigo Sky book cover

Indigo Sky book cover

Okay, okay, so this is a pitch for my new book . . . but it’s not out there yet . . . First let me tell you what’s going on—my editor from Soul Mate Publishing released my final draft to the publisher Monday, September 14. That probably means we’ll stay on schedule for the release, Wednesday, October 21, 2015. If you don’t know what writing is about, let me tell you that it’s about rewriting and rewriting again and again. Yup, the whole manuscript got rewritten numerous times to hopefully, a sweet, sensuous and spirited read. This week, my blog was going to be about women’s adventures in the Civil War, instead, I’ll give you a little excerpt of my heroine, Leila, when she bumps into her long lost school friend Cornelia.

INDIGO SKY excerpt:

Certainly her mother had made it clear that Leila committed a serious breach of etiquette by joining her husband on a bachelor spree, and people could talk about her unladylike conduct.

I don’t care what my mother or anybody else says. Leila pouted. Anyway, what’s one more scandal? Rumors surrounding Hank’s excesses and philandering had plagued her marriage from the outset.

She poured more tea and took a sip of the hot brew, casting a glance at Hank. Millburn’s shoulders were twice the width of her husband’s, and he was a head taller than Hank. They seemed well ensconced at the bar. She sighed and contemplated returning to her compartment.


She looked up. A tall woman with blond curls pinned high on her head stood beside the booth. A smile touched the woman’s alabaster face. “Leila Dempsey? Is that really you?”

“Cornelia?” Leila gaped at her friend. She and Cornelia Hancock had attended boarding school together for eight years.

“I haven’t seen you in ages,” she bubbled, taking Leila’s arm. “Oh, do give me a hug.”

Leila rose and was enveloped in perfumed arms. “How wonderful to see you.”

“It’s good to see you, too, my friend.” Cornelia dropped into the opposite seat, smiling broadly. “Where are you going? What are you doing in Albany? Last I heard you were in Florida.”

“Yes, well, we’re back in New York, and now we’re on our way west for business with my husband and his partner,” Leila said, eyeing her warily. Cornelia was part of the social circle and would have heard the latest news. Leila suspected she still corresponded with everyone from their class.

“I’m stopping in New York City to meet a Doctor Brown, who works with orphans, then I’m going on to St. Louis to pursue a nursing career.”

“Cornelia, how wonderful!” Leila was happy to have companionship, and her melancholy dissipated with the news from her friend.


Read more in my book, INDIGO SKY, to be released on October 21, 2015.

At the time of the civil war, Florence Nightingale inspired women to take control of their lives. Society was against women doing anything outside the home. They were thought to be unintelligent and dependent. My own grandmother, Rose, in the early 20th century, in Russia, was a mathematics teacher. Way before her time. But she and her family were driven out of Russia, and came to America in 1922. That’s a story for another time. Women are competent, multi-faceted and are infinitely capable. Leila, my heroine, is an amazing woman. She married a successful syndicated writer, and believed she had dream marriage. But the marriage turned into a trap of addiction, lies and women. She puts up with him beyond acceptable. Follow her struggle in my INDIGO SKY, coming soon, October 2015.

Do you like to read, and what? Romance, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, young adult, women’s fiction, inspirational?

The ebook will be available on Amazon.

Watch for the trailer . . .

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