William

Rawlings

Author of Southern Stories

 

 

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The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes

Returning to my roots as a writer of suspense fiction set in my home state of Georgia, The Girl with Kaleidoscope eyes is a fast-moving tale of deception, intrigue and murder that takes place in Savannah.  The protagonist, John Wesley O'Toole is a disbarred attorney trying to get his life back together after being release from prison.  Having inherited an art gallery from his grandmother, O'Toole is struggling to  make ends meet when he is approached by Abraham Deign, a wealthy local businessman.  Deign wants O'Toole to recover a missing painting, one allegedly taken from his home by his estranged granddaughter, Lucy, and is willing to offer a substantial reward.  Seeing the possibility of financial light at the end of a dark tunnel, O'Toole takes on the quest.  All is going well until Lucy's body is found in a burned out car, and it appears that O'Toole may be the murderer.  Things go downhill from there--for a while at least.  Readers tell me this is one of my best fiction works to date, and it garnered great reviews.   I think you will like it!  Wm. R.


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The Strange Journey of the Confederate Constitution
The Strange Journey of the Confederate Constitution, and Other Stories from Georgia's Historical Past. is a collection of 17 shorter pieces on Georgia and Southern history, ranging from the significance of the invention of the cotton gin and the Great Yazoo Fraud, to the true story of the Lost Confederate Treasure, to the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.  Somewhat more than half of these have appeared in Georgia Backroads magazine over the last decade, but have been reworked for this book.   Two of the pieces ("A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff "and "The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire") were expanded to become full length books.

The Second Coming of the Invisible Empire

The history of the various "Ku Klux Klans" since the Reconstruction Era of the 1860s and 1870s is a complicated one, and often misunderstood by historians and the public alike.  In 1915 William Simmons, a former minister and fraternal order organizer launched a new "beneficial fraternal order" that he named "The Ku Klux Klan," based almost solely on the popularity of the then-current blockbuster movie, The Birth of a Nation.  Started primarily as a money-making scheme, and borrowing the movie props of the burning cross and white-hooded gowns, Simmons's Klan grew from a few thousand members in 1920 in Georgia and Alabama to as many as 5 million members in all 48 states by 1925,  Promoted by a pyramidal marketing scheme, it enriched its founders while attracting members from all social classes nationwide. Attempting to turn its membership power into a political movement, the Klan failed, and was essentially defunct by the 1930s, finally declaring bankruptcy in 1944.  It's a fascinating tale of this vile organization, and one that will surprise you.

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff

A Killing on Ring Jaw Bluff is a saga of two inextricably intertwined tales, the infamous Rawlings-Tarbutton murder case of 1925, and the crash of the cotton economy in Georgia (and the South) of the same era.  Sound like a strange combination?  It's not.  From about 1795 until the 1920s, the entire life of many of the southern states was based on the production of cotton.  Men became rich.  And when it all fell apart, lives were forever changed.  It was a fascinating and little known era.   In this popularly written account, I integrate local and regional history and economics that forever changed the South and Southern small towns in particular. 

Event Schedule
Upcoming events for the next few months are
listed below.  If you or your book or social club
are looking for a speaker, please contact me.  I am available for "virtual" events on Zoom or other videoconferencing programs. 

6/12/21 2:00-4:00 PM
Book Signing "Lighthouses of the 
   Georgia Coast"
Righton Books
Redfern Village
St. Simons Island, Georgia

7/9/2021  2:00-4:00 PM
Presentation: "Lighthouses of the 
   Georgia Coast"
Center for Life Enrichment
Highlands, North Carolina

7/20/21 10:30 AM
Illustrated Lecture "Lighthouses of 
   the Georgia Coast"
The Literary Guild of St. Simons Island
The Casino in the Village, Room 108
St. Simons Island, Georgia

10/5/21  Speaking to a Book Club
   (Private Event)
Columbus, Georgia

12/11/2021 Details TBA
Mercer Univ. Press Authors Luncheon
InterContinental Buckhead
3315 Peachtree Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia

3/22/2022 10:00-11:00 AM
Book Club Discussion (Private Event)
Tuesday Book Club
Holy Nativity Episcopal Church
2200 18th Street
Plano, Texas


News and Notes

There is always something happening.  Here are the latest odds and ends that may be of interest to you:


Book Number 12:  The Columbus Strangler 

One of the things I've discovered about being an author is the inevitable question of "What are you working on next?"  I am getting toward the end of a manuscript on the infamous serial killer known as "The Columbus Strangler."  Between September 1977 and April 1978 an unknown assailant murdered seven elderly women in one of the most upscale neighborhoods of Columbus, Georgia.  Despite an intense manhunt and massive police presence, he seemed to be able to commit his crimes with impunity. The police were baffled.  And as suddenly as this reign of terror had started, it ended.  The case went cold with the killings unsolved and no idea of who the strangler was.  


Six years later in the spring of 1984, a fortuitous series of events led to the identification and arrest of Carlton Gary, then a thirty-three year old black male with a long criminal record.  Gary came to trial two years later in 1986.  He was convicted and sentenced to death, but through a series of appeals and other twists and turns in the saga, managed to avoid his fate for more than three decades.  


This is one of the most complex and complicated true stories I've ever tried to write, but also certainly one of the most fascinating ones.  I believe both readers of true crime and Georgia history will find it fascinating.  The book will be published by Mercer University Press in 2022.