Ashley Hunter, ECB Publishing, Inc.
“For reasons known only to him, Francis Teague hadn’t told anyone about his adolescent years during the 1940s in Monticello, Florida. But that all changed when his granddaughter, Erica Bass, a Leon County paramedic, decided she wanted to know about them.”
So begins the synopsis of George Encizo's book, Broken Trust.
Encizo, a former military man and retired banker, began writing later in life and said that when he was younger, being a published (and award-winning) novelist had not been on his original list of dream careers.
Now the published author of five completed works, Encizo grew up during the 1940s in a small town in New York with 11 siblings.
When he was younger, Encizo saw himself as an artist and aspired to be a doctor, or possibly an olympian.
But a high school injury resulted in Encizo dropping out of high school before completing his senior year.
A former football athlete, Encizo instead joined the Army (where he completed his high school education).
When he was 21 years old, he left the military, and began working a number of jobs, until he eventually found a position in banking and began taking night classes at college – by this point, he was married and had two children.
“Ten years later, I got my degree in banking and finance,” said Encizo, adding that his wife and children were there cheering him on as he received his diploma.
In 1972, George Encizo and his wife moved their family to Plantation, FL, and would move around before they eventually settled in Tallahassee in 1998 upon Encizo's retirement from banking.
In Tallahassee, Encizo began taking watercolor classes, and found a medium he loved.
The art medium became his passion; Encizo's pieces were in exhibits around Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina. Encizo also became a signature member of the Georgia Watercolor Society – of which Encizo is still a member.
“I was an accomplished watercolorist until 2007,” said Encizo.
It was then that illness and operations caused him to temporarily put his watercoloring on hold, and focus on regaining his health.
Once he was ready to paint again, he found the task no longer as easy as it had once been.
“I couldn't control the brush,” said Encizo, glancing down at his hands, which had claimed by arthritis.
He still paints the Encizo's annual Christmas cards, but the creative outlet he once delved into was no longer an option he could thrive in everyday.
“I needed an outlet,” said Encizo. “So I sat down at a computer and started writing little two-page memoirs of my life as a kid.”
Ultimately, he composed 33 short memoirs, which he plans to eventually compile into a book for his family.
“But then,” Encizo added, “the first book was born.”
In 2010, the inspiration for his first book was sparked, and he delved into the writing process for a novel. “I worked and I worked on it. I'm still working on it,” he said.
The book is still an unpublished project, but through working on that first novel, Encizo became inspired for Blocker's Bluff.
“It wouldn't get out of my head, and it kept bugging me,” said Encizo of Blocker's Bluff. So he started writing the book, and eventually the novel – which Encizo describes as a 'classic whodunit' – was published in October 2013.
But at that point, Encizo had no plans of massive literary success.
In fact, he claims that he only published it in order to get the 20 free copies of the book from his publisher so he could pass it out to friends and family.
Then, a book signing in Tallahassee and Blocker's Bluff landing in the hands of another author resulted in Encizo looking a bit more critically at his published work.
The author gave Encizo some pointers and suggestions on the book, mostly in regards to punctuation and grammar.
“He said, 'George, I'd have given you a five, except you got typos'. So I finally had it professionally proofread, and she found 1,800 typos – mostly punctuation and grammar,” said Encizo.
After fixing the issues, editing his novel more severely and republishing Blocker's Bluff, Encizo said that the inspiration for more novels flowed in. Year after year, the concept for new books came to him, until Encizo is where he is at today – five published novels, and a multiple award-winning author.
As a self-published, indie author, Encizo said he mainly based his novels in fictional towns and counties.
“I decided, you know, I've been making up fictitious places. I want to write about a real place,” said Encizo. “A real place where I can actually go in and do research.”
He lived in Tallahassee, but Encizo decided he didn't want to base his next novel in Tallahassee, so he instead began to look to the area around Tallahassee – and Monticello seemed like a great place to start.
So he drove to Monticello to scope out the town, investigate the history and meet with the genealogical society.
“A wealth of information opened up to me,” said Encizo of the Monticello Keystone Genealogical Society. “They were wonderful over there.”
Within the society, he found photographs of Monticello's past, personal accounts from people who had lived in Monticello and a rich history that begged to be delved into.
“And so, Broken Trust was born,” said Encizo.
Working closely with Dee Counts at the Monticello Keystone Genealogical Society (who is also acknowledged in the back of the book), Encizo began gathering all his information and writing his book in 2017.
Growing up in a small town himself, Encizo says a lot of his reasoning for placing his novel in Monticello was due to his childhood in a small community that was not too much unlike Monticello.
As for the time era – Encizo, who was born in the 40s, has siblings who grew up and remembered life during that era and could provide referencing for the time, should he need details that only someone who had lived through the 40s could recall.
While Broken Trust is a work of fiction, Encizo's novel depicts many real-life locations from life in Monticello's 1940s. Some landmarks and peoples have had their names changed or are no longer standing, but there are some names – such as the Monticello Opera House, Boots Thomas, and even the genealogical society itself which will be recognizable to the residents and natives of Monticello.
“Some of the scores of the football games and the football teams [in the book] actually came from yearbooks and old newspaper clippings,” said Encizo.
But the book, while grounded with a sprinkling of historical facts and names, is still very much a work of fiction.
Broken Trust contains heart break, loss, love, and the charm of a small town in North Florida.
“There's little bits and pieces of places that I poked in there,” said Encizo, but he decided to change some names, add a bit of his own artistic creativity.
Monticello is the location of the book, but the soul is half Monticello and half Encizo's own.
“A lot of the embarrassing times in the books are actually gleaned from real life – they actually happened to me,” added Encizo.
Broken Trust was published in May of this year, and already has seen the beginning of literary success.
Encizo is already an award-winning author for some of his other books (The Farber Legacy was a Gold Medal winner in the 2015 Authors and Publishers President's Book Awards, Baxter House was a finalist in the 2017 Eric Hoffer Book Awards for cover and content, and Descent Into Hell was nominated for an award), but Broken Trust will further his accolades, as it has already been nominated for an award.
He might not have originally planned on this experience as a published and awarded author, but Encizo is here, and bringing Monticello into the light as he himself climbs further into the ring of literary success.
Want to learn more about Broken Trust, or Encizo's other novels? Visit Encizo online at georgeencizo.com. Broken Trust can be purchased from Amazon.com for $15.99 (paperback).