Guest post: Mary Alice Monroe
I’ve been a fan of Mary Alice Monroe ever since I read Last Light Over Carolina five years ago. I love the way she weaves the environmental issues she’s passionate about into her stories without being preachy. I read The Summer Girls, the first book in her Lowcountry Summer trilogy, last year and loved it, so I’m thrilled that the next book is out! Here’s what Mary Alice has to say about it:
Book release day! It’s exciting to see this time come so I can finally share THE SUMMER WIND with everyone. It’s the second installment of The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy and the follow-up to last year’s bestseller THE SUMMER GIRLS. If you haven’t read book one though don’t worry. THE SUMMER WIND stands alone.
I’m on book tour right now, and one of the common questions I’m asked is what inspired the story. For me, nature is my source of inspiration, and living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina means I’m surrounded by natural beauty and all of its inhabitants. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, commonly spotted off shore and in the saltwater creeks, is the backdrop for the trilogy. For years, I had wanted to write a story with a dolphin in it. And I was compelled to do it now after learning from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that nearly half of the resident dolphins in South Carolina and Florida are sick or contaminated.
Dolphins are excellent in communication and have strong family bonds. So I created a dysfunctional family and each character has a unique communication problem, such as autism. The parallels of nature and human nature help raise awareness to the real issues plaguing dolphins through the power of story. It also enriches the plot, characters, and metaphors throughout the novel.
THE SUMMER WIND is about three young women–estranged half-sisters Carson, Dora, and Harper–and their strong, wise and a bit wily grandmother whose lives are changed by the presence of one wild dolphin during their final summer at “Sea Breeze”, Mamaw’s beach home on Sullivan’s Island. Each book focuses on one woman, and all the characters’ stories move forward in each novel toward a final climax.
THE SUMMER WIND is mainly about Dora, the eldest, who feels like a failed southern belle. She’s lived her life under the pressure of too many expectations and “shoulds.” She is unappreciated and feels like she never measures up to her sisters or the standards set by her mother and society. Who can, really? Dora’s world crumbles–her marriage fails, her son has special needs, and the only reason her house is standing is because the termites are holding hands!
I love Dora because she is in many ways “every woman.” I think a lot of readers will identify with the character and cheer her on, as I did, as Dora struggles to shut out the critical voices and listen instead to her own heart.
The other question I’m often asked is what are you working on now? I’m currently writing book three of trilogy, THE SUMMER’S END, which will be out in June 2015. I am excited to weave all the threads and tie all the knots so the readers will hopefully sigh with contentment on closing the final book! And, they’ll realize they’ve enjoyed learning a lot about dolphins in the process.
I’m on the road this June and July celebrating the release of THE SUMMER WIND. I may be coming to a city near you. View my book tour at www.MaryAliceMonroe.com. I’d love to see you!