Jonathan Herbert is an award-winning writer who grew up in Englewood. His
novels, Banyan Street and Silver King, have won multiple literary awards,
including recognition from the Paris Book Festival. You can follow him on
Twitter @herbertnovels or on the web at herbertnovels.com.
November/December 2018 GASPARILLA ISLAND 53
triangle ensues and tests their marriage to the
fullest. Enter Roberto, a charming lawyer with
major connections, who leads the couple to chance
encounters with casino figureheads, gangsters and
ultimately, a meeting with Fidel Castro himself.
Accomplished author Frank Foster did not
originally plan on using a pseudonym for this novel.
“Actually, the decision to use a pseudonym came
after I produced the work and therefore did not
influence the development of the female
protagonists,” he said. “Instead, the story dictated
the book be written from a woman’s point of view.
I did my best to pull that off and the reaction to
the book so far, thankfully, seems to suggest I did. “
He continued. “The pseudonym approach was an
industry trend I read about in an article in The Wall
Street Journal. Of course, the approach has been
around for years, beginning with female authors
using initials instead of first names – P. D. James and
J. D. Robb being notable examples. But the article I
read identified the trend of male authors using
opposite-gender first names for purely marketing
purposes, since 68 percent of book buyers are
women, higher for fiction. And that was my reason.
But Ashley Morgan could indeed be a man.
Remember Ashley Wilkes, the character in Gone
with the Wind?”
The impetus for using Cuba as the focal background
was explained by the author.
“My parents were frequent visitors to pre-Castro
Cuba. My mother started it all by going there with
one of her best girl friends whose father was a Pan
Am executive. Later, she and my father went often
and even brought friends home to visit. I remember
meeting one of them whose name was ... yep,
Roberto. So Cuba became a natural platform for a
story involving a young, not-particularly-well-heeled
Southern couple who loved to party in Cuba.”
This story idea comes from a familiar place for
Foster. “If you’re going to write fiction, you have to
have an active
imagination. And A Lady
in Havana was a product
of mine, plain and
There was a lengthy
pause in the conversation while
Castro undertook the most ritualistic
process of lighting his enormous
Cuban cigar. While this was going on, Roberto
lit my Lucky for me and Celia lit a new cigarette with
her old one. With the first blue plume of cigar smoke
on its way to the ceiling, Fidel spoke again. “I agreed
to Roberto’s suggestion of dinner tonight for two
reasons. One is that I always like to be in the presence
of beautiful women.
But the other is the rare chance to get the
perspective of an ordinary American citizen on our
revolution.” He paused and just looked at me, puffing
on the cigar.
Reactions from friends and family have been well
“As with most authors, my wife is always my “first
reader,” and she counts this one as her favorite,” he
said. “I did have some of my other family read it.
They were initially taken aback as they jumped to
the erroneous conclusion that the book was
somehow my mother’s biography. I explained why
it is not and then made a few changes that were
not material to the story. Now they love it. The
most valuable first readers were a few Cuban
friends whose feedback and resounding approval
was greatly appreciated.”
A Lady in Havana is the first work of historical
women’s fiction from Ashley Morgan. A Florida
native, Morgan splits time between homes in
Central Florida and the mountains of North
Carolina and enjoys traveling, opera, and fine wines.
A Lady in Havana will be released in late 2018 and
can be purchased in bookstores and on amazon.com.