2018-11-30 / Front Page

Local attorney publishes second novel

By Anita Baker


Brian Boger (l) with his family Brian Boger (l) with his family Local attorney Brian Boger recently published his second novel, Champagne Friday. The novel tells the story of a young attorney, Maxwell Cooper, and the challenges brought before him by a cast of characters representing all levels of society in the historical city of Aiken, South Carolina.

Boger was inspired to write Champagne Friday while working in Aiken. As he enjoyed coffee one early morning at the New Moon Café just down the street from the Aiken County Courthouse, Boger observed an older man in front of him at the counter paying for his cup of coffee with an aged one hundred dollar bill. Boger wondered where the man found the money. He then continued to observe as the man sat down and was approached by a young lady who was attending a polo match that weekend. This sequence of events at the New Moon Café set in motion the writing process that led Boger to publish the novel.

Boger’s main character is newly widowed Hugh Buncombe, a retired Savannah River Site employee who stumbles upon thousands of dollars in one hundred dollar bills abandoned on condemned federal property adjacent to the Savannah River Site. Other characters include: reporter Mandy Alexander, who befriended Buncombe at the New Moon Café; and Quentin Cleveland, a homeowner about to lose his home to foreclosure even though he took in tenants to pay rent to help him try to keep his home; and Carla Robeson, the wealthy and successful daughter of Leland Brunswick, one of the wealthiest men in Aiken who was recently tragically injured in a car accident.

As the story progresses, Mandy Alexander and Hugh Buncombe begin to have coffee each day at the New Moon Café. However, Buncombe never shares his secret about the money he is discovering daily on Rhodes Field in the abandoned town of Ellenton, S.C. Buncombe and the young journalist develop a father-daughter relationship over their daily coffee. They are also joined by a lively group of retirees who call themselves Champagners 1836. This group gathers at the New Moon Café every Friday to celebrate life memories with champagne.

Boger says Champagne Friday “is really about loss…loss of life, home, and even reputation.”

Each of his characters is grieving a loss, and their relationships and interactions are produced out of the needs developed in the grieving stages of their lives. Quentin Cleveland is about to face the loss of his home. His tenants are also facing the loss of a place to live. Hugh Buncombe is a recent widower. Maxwell Cooper recently lost his father. Wealthy Carla Robeson, who has traveled to Aiken from New York, is facing the potential loss of her father while hiding her true burden, the loss of her professional reputation.

Boger wants readers to see that “loss is tolerable and acceptable.” He crafts the stories of each character so “their life losses resolve in a joyful way.”

Boger also highlights the history of Aiken, unique from any other city in South Carolina. While working on Champagne Friday, Boger met with Judith Burgess, a local expert in Aiken history. He and his family met with Burgess and were given a historical tour of Aiken and the beautiful mansions in the Southwest area known as the Aiken Winter Colony.

In the late 1800s, Aiken became the destination spot for wealthy northerners, many known as the “robber barons” of that era. These wealthy northerners traveled by rail car to Aiken for its warm climate and “sandy soil over clay base” which was ideal for training and raising horses. Renowned polo enthusiast Thomas Hitchcock and William C. Whitney, Secretary of the Navy under President Grover Cleveland, were the first to travel to Aiken to establish a place to enjoy the warmer weather during winter months. They built huge mansions and developed acres of recreational land. Members of the Vanderbilt, Bostwick, Eustis, Astor, and Pinkerton families, among others, brought tremendous development to Aiken during that era that still exists today. ( Historical information provided by Judith Burgess) Another historical era highlighted by Boger in Champagne Friday is the Cold War which occurred in the second half of the 20th century. Over 38,000 federal employees resettled in newly built towns near Aiken in the 1950s due to the building of the Savannah River Plant. This was a dangerous time between the United States and the Soviet Union. In response to the growing Soviet threat, the United States government began large-scale efforts to develop nuclear technology, and the Savannah River Plant in Aiken was a large part of their plan.

Boger’s desire to write a novel began when he was in middle school. Boger was raised in North Carolina and Virginia, and he graduated from the University of Virginia. Then he came to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina School of Law and says he and his family now call South Carolina home. His practice at the Boger Law Firm includes work in real estate, consumer claims, foreclosures, and debt collection.

Boger’s first novel is Southern Fate, which took years to complete. He said he wrote hundreds of pages in longhand and then became discouraged and put his work away. After a friend convinced him to begin writing again, Boger decided to commit himself to finish that novel. He then began a new ritual which he keeps to this day. He wakes up every morning at 4:30 a.m. and writes for an hour and a half. He says he “just did not quit” and finished Southern Fate in three years.

After publishing Southern Fate, Boger began work on his second novel, Champagne Friday. He continued his habit of setting aside time every early morning to write consistently and spent four years on the first draft of his second novel. Boger then submitted it to editors, and after changes were recommended, spent another three years completing the novel. Boger says, “Writing is a creative act. You really can’t put it down. It helps you look at things through a different eye.”

Boger is currently working on his third novel which will be set in Charleston.

Champagne Friday can be purchased online at www.amazon.com and the Barnes and Noble website. A book signing will be held Thursday, December 6, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at 1331 Elmwood Avenue, Atrium. Parking is available in the front and rear of the building.

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