Historical author Marian Tomblin wrote “The Mystery at Hotel Ormond.” Now, she’s working on a comic book.
BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Marian Tomblin loves local history. But she’s got no patience for long, boring lectures.
It was with that spirit that the now-self-published author got to writing mystery books based on her hometown of Ormond Beach.
“I (wrote my first book) out of self-defense,” she said, explaining that when she relocated back to the city from Maryland (she grew up here) in the early 2000s, her daughter, an avid reader of Nancy Drew novels, was unhappy with the move.
So Tomblin got to work. She thought that if she could write a compelling story that took place in Ormond, the story would, in turn, warm her daughter up to her new city.
Turns out, it worked. But the story appealed to more than only Tomblin’s daughter.
In 2004, “The Mystery at Hotel Ormond” was chosen by the mayor for a state literacy program and, soon, it was turned into a textbook distributed to 26 different schools throughout Volusia County. It has even been adapted locally for use in numerous high school plays.
“There’s so much more to Florida than Disney World,” Tomblin said. “And the more knowledgeable (you are), the more you’ll care for it. And that’s my goal: to create better stewards.”
Since the publishing of her first book, Tomblin has written and printed five more history-based stories, with her latest, a graphic novel based at Matanzas High School, in Palm Coast, currently in the works.
But Tomblin never just tackles one project at a time. She’s also in the process of looking for sponsors to back the printing of an 18-page curriculum piece she wrote, called “Hidden History, FL.,” which focuses on the state’s upcoming 500th birthday.
She hopes to one day see the insert in every elementary classroom in the county.
“I grew up on John Anderson Drive; didn’t know who it was named for,” Tomblin said. “I was the least enthusiast student at Seabreeze High School. So make it fun! The places we drive by every day — who are they named for?”
Initially, “Hidden Histories” was planned as a 14-episode TV series. It even had a preview video commissioned by PBS station WUCF, to help connect young readers with their community. But funding was tight, so now the scope is changing toward print.
No matter the shifts in medium, though, Tomblin’s vision remains the same: She wants students to gain an appreciation for the history in their hometown. “We’re older than Plymouth Rock,” she said of Florida. “We preceded the pilgrims … the witch trials.”
And if she has to trick kids into learning all that, well, that’s more than OK with her.
For more, or to sponsor the Tombln’s education packet, email [email protected].