Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Inspiration from a Black Widow

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Inspiration from a Black Widow

Former La Portean Leslie Hummel with her husband in London. Submitted photo

La Porte native writes novel

By Matt Fritz
Staff writer
1-866-362-2167 Ext. 13887
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 5:01 PM CST
It is the story of an "anatomically perfect" Russian gold-digger, a globe-trotting woman of beauty out to nab a Russian oligarch, who gets immersed in London's Russian mafia and finds herself in the middle of an armed conflict.

And it is the latest tale woven by Londoner and La Porte native Leslie Hummel, highlighting the exploits of the manipulative gold-digger Paulina, or "Shebug" as Hummel describes her.

Titled "Shebug Origin: Russia," it is a fictional work inspired by events and people in Hummel's own life, with Shebug being a term she coined herself.

"A Shebug is somebody who will do anything to get what she wants," she said via a recent email, "regardless of the bad taste, or devastation, she leaves in her wake. A Shebug is not only out to get another's money/partner/position/status by dubious means, she is also somebody who steals your ideas at work and claims them as her own."

Born Leslie Hulsbus in La Porte, and raised here until she was eight, Hummel was the first American native of her family, coming from a Dutch father and an Argentine mother.

Among her more cherished memories in the area was her ownership of a three-month-old lioness named "Ory," who was her pride and joy until she bit a mayoral candidate in Terre Haute and was sentenced to the Chicago Zoo.

Hummel said she has faced, and befriended, several Shebugs in her life, but her inspiration for her latest tale was a real Black Widow who rented out the home of a family friend in Belvedere, Texas, and started taking advantage of the neighbors with her charms.

"The pretty brunette dazzled and milked her share of the inhabitants of Belvedere that summer," she said. "But no sooner did the Texan authorities pick up her scent in California, the Black Widow vanished from sight leaving the house a mess and a pile of unpaid bills. It took years before she was finally caught  —thanks to a bounced check. I was given photos of her, a note and recordings. I wrote a novel based on her years back. Now that she's behind bars, I might just dust it off!"

As far as the term "Shebug" goes, Hummel said she developed it to describe the type of character who can really get under your skin.

"Gold diggers are insect-like in every way," she said. "They have been around since time immemorial and can do most anything, they are so thick-skinned."

Writing since she was 15, Hummel said she got into the art of word-smithing when she was given a diary on her birthday. She then got into letter writing when she was shipped off to boarding school, and wrote her first 600 page book after a challenge from her mother. She has been unable to stop since.

"I wrote poetry in the university when life got a bit bleak," she added. "Earning a business administration degree with a math phobia felt akin to climbing a glacier in flip flops some days."

She said her character of Pauline and the background of her novel is based on her experiences in Russia some 15 years ago when the Soviet Union's collapse was still recent history.

"One moment, you could walk past decent people desperately trying to make ends meet," she said, "the next, come face to face with the hardcore newly rich living it up without a care. It was the wild wild west, Russian style."

Residing now in London with her husband, she said the English may speak the same language as La Porteans, but the culture clash is significant.

"The British eat things like bangers and mash, spotted dicks (a type of pudding) and lather their morning toast with a bitter dark goo they lovingly call Marmite," she said. "Potato chips are referred to as crisps, and dessert as pudding. Oh, and aprons are called pinnies. We pray for the Queen in church; if you miss the 10 (a.m.) mass, you can catch a later one, except that it will be said in Latin."

"Shebug Origin: Russia" has been published on Kindle and is available on Amazon.com.

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