Blood on the Moon: A Novel of Old Florida


 Blood on the Moon (Quality Publications, Brooklyn OH, 1990) took longer to write than I ever would have guessed, and in its early stages the book was downright awful.  Ultimately, however, I think it turned out to be quite respectable.  Judging from reader’s responses, that sentiment seemed to be shared by a broad cross section of the reading public.


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This novel would have made a great movie back in Hollywoods’s costume epic days.  Putting Blood on the Moon on the silver screen today would cost of the order of 100 million dollars, by the time the locations were found, the sets built and the costumes rented, skipping as it does from location to location in Florida during Seminole War days, then onto Louis Napoleon’s court in France and Maximilian’s doomed palace in Mexico.  Therefore, I think it’ll be a while before we see it on the big screen. In fact, the novel has been long out of print, and to tell the truth I don’t even remember where the complete reviews of the book are stashed.  However, here are some excerpts from a poop sheet I found when cleaning out a closet the other day.  If you really want a copy of this book (or other) rare books department might be able to locate one for you.

 “A book which even the most serious historian should enjoy. . .   A good story,” Florida Historical Quarterly.

“A good job,” the Orlando Sentinel.

“The fascination of the book is in the human conflicts among the Seminoles, the slaves, the United States government and the plantation owners, as well as in the glimpses of the royal courts in France and Mexico and how they affected the United States,” The Hays (KS) Daily News.

“A fast-paced read,” The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

“A tempestuous love story (set) among the actual events in the Second Seminole War,” The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“A historical novel (quite) different from modern-day Florida,” Florida Magazine.

“We learn much about the history of both Florida and Europe during the years before and just after the American Civil War.  We get bloody descriptions of battle and massacre during the Seminole Indian Wars in 1840s Florida.  In the France of the 1860s, we meet Napoleon II, his assorted courtiers, sycophants and minions.  We even get a glimpse of the forces which predisposed France to defeat in its disastrous war with Prussia in 1870,” The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union.

My favorite notice, however, was not published in any newspaper or magazine.  It came from the family that runs Smallwood’s Store on Chokoloskee island in the far southwest corner of the state.  The family progenitor, Ted Smallwood, opened the store as a Indian and frontier trading post a hundred or so years ago.  The establishment stayed in business as a commercial enterprise until 1983 when Aunt Thelma gave up the ghost.  For a few years the store sat empty then the family decided to open the doors as quasi-museum, quasi-tourist attraction along about 1990 about when I dropped in for the first time.  I can kick myself for not getting there a few years earlier when Aunt Thelma was still running the place.  By the way, the real-life Mr. Watson, who became famous thanks to Peter Mathiesson’s novel, was lynched almost on the store’s doorstep. 

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:  “Dear Steve,  We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the book, “Blood on the Moon” which you sent us.  We have read it and thoroughly enjoyed it.  We are going to contact the publisher concerning our stocking it next season.  We would be proud to sell it here at Smallwood’s Store.  It has been passed around to various friends, and all are impressed with it as a true tale of Old Florida.  Congratulations on creating such a wonderful story.”

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