The Gin Club


LUCA HEYWOOD, former chemist and failed family man, is attempting to save the childhood home he hates—a historic farm—with his hand-crafted Magnolia Gin. The gin is his passion; the farm is his purgatory, a constant reminder of the tragedy that stole his best friend.

He's clinging to old-fashioned optimism, but he's flat broke, a groundhog is destroying his botanicals, and his grand distillery opening is a grand bust. His ex-wife could be right: “If you build it, no one will come. Who the hell drinks Southern gin?”

She drops another bombshell when she delivers their anxious, artistically-gifted son to the farm for six weeks: Zander tanked 9th grade. Zander knows why—he’s being bullied—but sharing would take his broken family to DEFCON 1.

Life at the farm falls into a rhythm after Zander saves an abused stray and Luca enlists three lonely, enthusiastic volunteers to help put his gin on the map.

Watching his dad go full geek with his new posse reveals a different side of the parent who leans in doorways as if he needs a handrail to hang onto life. A sketch evolves in Zander's mind of a group of unlikely superheroes called the Gin Club: the Avenger with a movie-star smile that hides a dark secret; the Guardian, a Thor-like lawyer who helps kids at risk; and the Fixer, who's obsessed with finances and humanely relocating groundhogs. At the center is the guy they lean on: the Leaner.

When Zander’s safety is threatened, Luca realizes these guys have the power to save more than his distillery. Maybe they can also help him find forgiveness for his friend’s death, reclaim his connection to the land, and make the farm into the foundation of a new family.


How did I research Luca's passion for handcrafting southern gin? By foraging in the forest with the Piedmont Picnic Project (I ate Carolina juniper berries for supper), interviewing local distillers and farmers, and touring historic tobacco barns. I'm still working on the gin tasting …