How the real jailer’s daughter inspired The Bloody Shoe Affair.

By Joy York

  • A Jail
  • An innocent man with an entire town baying for his blood
  • Two young girls, one fearless and one shy

Can they save the day?

My inspiration for storytelling came from listening to my Mama Leavie tell fascinating stories to me and my cousins in the evenings while sitting on her porch in rural Alabama. She sat in a swing telling tales to her wide-eyed audience of grandchildren gathered at her feet, all of who hung onto every word. My cousin, who was the same age as me, sat alongside me soaking up the adventures. When I began writing years later, Julia, the real jailer’s daughter, became my muse.

Although the characters and locations in my book are fictitious, the inspiration came from my visits to see my cousin in rural Alabama when I was growing up in the 1960’s. She lived in brownstone house that was connected to the county jail. My uncle was a deputy sheriff and the jailer. My aunt assisted in the operations, along with planning and preparing the meals for the prisoners.

My cousin was indeed the fearless, adventure seeking prankster like Lily in my story, and I was the shy, fearful, scaredy cat like Christi. My cousin was outgoing, personable, and determined. She talked to the prisoners, snuck them candy and cigarettes, played checkers, and listened to their stories. We talked to the deputies, watched prisoner checked ins, heard them scream threats, and even played jailer and prisoner in the empty cells (guess who got locked up.). We often visited the woman trustee who lived in a little apartment converted from a jail cell located in the very spooky and unused basement. All these things terrified me which seemed to embolden my cousin’s mischievous side even more.

One evening when we were going down the stark dimly lit stairs to the basement to visit the female trustee, Julia told me the evidence room was located down there. She said there was a pair of women’s bloody shoes from a brutal murder and late at night if you listened carefully you could hear the voice of the woman calling out for her shoes. A plot point was born.

 They say to write what you know. These impressionable experiences were so rich with possibilities for characters, locations, ambiance, and stories … how could it not inspire me to write The Bloody Shoe Affair. The sequel, The Jailer’s Daughter’s Revenge will be coming soon.




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