When writing a novel, especially one with a historical setting, it is imperative to do research. So, when I was toying with the idea for the book that would become The Rum Runner, I came across a web page that gave details of 250 ships seized by the government in the New York area for smuggling alcohol during Prohibtion… rum runners, if you will
The list is fascinating, including ships purported to be owned by Al Capone, and one named after Presidential Candidate Al Smith. One of the first things I noticed was that two of the boats were from Perth Amboy.
Now, I planned to set my story in my own town of Woodbridge, and that didn’t come up on the list, but Perth Amboy is the next town over. I figured if boats from Perth Amboy could be involved in the smuggling, so could boats from Woodbridge.
The other thing I saw was that three of the boats listed were Scallop boats. Now, that could be an interesting twist, said I to myself. My rum runner could have a day job as a scallop fisherman.
A little research on that front and I found that scallop fisherman go out for up to two weeks at time. I found how they process their catch, and even what a modern fisherman would stock to provision his boat for the days at sea.
So Hank became a scallop fisherman and a rum runner and although there’s no proof that any scallop fisherman from Woodbridge were actually rum runners, there’s nothing to say they couldn’t be.