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 also flat broke, a groundhog with a taste for gin 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. Besides, the parent who leans against walls as if he needs a handrail to hang on to life has enough to worry about. Zander's plan for the summer? Ignore his dad's pepper spray of questions about school.

Luca's every attempt at father-son bonding ends in a door slam …  until an abused stray arrives at the farm. And Luca enlists three lonely, enthusiastic volunteers to put his gin on the map.

As Zander helps the dog heal, he watches his dad go full geek with his new posse. An idea forms for a sketch of unlikely superheroes called the Gin Club. The Avenger, an actor and teacher, has a movie-star smile that hides a dark secret; the Guardian, a Thor-like lawyer, helps kids at risk; and the Fixer, a retired banker, is obsessed with finances and humanely relocating groundhogs.

At the center is the guy they rely on: the Leaner.

When Zander’s safety is threatened, Luca realizes the Gin Club has the power to save more than his distillery. Maybe the guys 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 …