Recently, she asked if I would answer some questions about my life and my work for her blog. I was flattered and she asked some great questions, which she titled and posted online as "Literary Road Trip". I selected a few of them for you to see today since they seem to be popular ones that readers often ask me.
Kathy: Please share the story of how sea turtles changed your life.
When I moved to the Isle of Palms I knew I wanted to write a story that included the loggerheads. I began what has become a fundamental of my research –I volunteered. I joined the Island Turtle Team and over the course of two years performed every task from walking the beaches in search of turtle tracks, to moving turtle nests, monitoring hatchings, and keeping records. I was committed to write a novel that didn’t merely use loggerheads as a setting, but rather, to bring an awareness of the plight of this threatened species and to educate the readers as well as entertain them. I wrote THE BEACH HOUSE and its success validated my efforts and green lighted my future books. It helped focus my career as I created my own niche. I’m currently licensed with DNR, I serve on the board of the SC Aquarium, and will always be a “turtle lady” on our barrier islands.
Kathy: I love that your newer books have an environmental message to them. Can you tell us about your involvement in environmental issues?
Each book I write is set against the backdrop of some environmental issue I feel is timely and that my readers were resonate with. My novel SKYWARD is a love story set at the SC Center for Birds of Prey, SWIMMING LESSONS and my children’s book, TURTLE SUMMER, return to sea turtles. For both, readers participate in their rehabilitation and their uplifting and emotional release back to the wild. SWEETGRASS (re-released May 2010) tells the story of a plantation family struggling to hold on to their land and highlights the area’s historic sweetgrass baskets. TIME IS A RIVER is unique in that this story of a survivor of breast cancer learning to fly fish in the mountains near Asheville, NC holds the message of the healing power of nature. My latest book, LAST LIGHT OVER CAROLINA, is the story of a shrimp boat captain and his wife’s long marriage and depicts the clannish and poignant ties found in the vanishing shrimping communities.along the SE Coast. This book has become suddenly very timely in light of the tragic oil spill in the Gulf.
Kathy: I know that your next book is about butterflies. Can you tell us a little bit about it? When will it be published?
THE BUTTERFLY’S DAUGHTER might be my most ambitious book yet. Of all the butterflies, I chose the monarch butterfly because it is the most unique and magnificent of all butterflies, and the most common throughout the United States. Who doesn’t know and love a monarch? This amazing bug is the only insect to migrate like a bird or a whale. Yet, it isn’t the same butterfly that makes the round trip. It is the great-great-grandchild! Long live the king! But the monarch is endangered. This year some 80% died. My novel is a mother-daughter story set against the endangered phenomenon of the monarch migration. In other words, we have an amazing road trip that chases butterflies from Milwaukee Wisconsin , through the Midwest to Texas and finally the remote mountains of Mexico where millions of monarch butterflies overwinter.You can read the complete interview on Bermudaonion's Weblog. Thanks, Kathy for the great interview!
I’ve spent a year raising monarchs and visited the sanctuaries in Mexico. When I stood before millions of monarchs flying around me like brilliant flames against an azure sky, I knew I was breathing rarified air. It was pure joy—and I had to bring that moment to my readers.
I believe I’ve succeeded in my novel. THE BUTTERFLY’S DAUGHTER will be released from Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster in May 2011.