“I’m sorry I haven’t called in so long.”
“I can’t believe how long it’s been, but I follow you on Facebook.”
“I meant to write but…”
I confess. I’m guilty of saying those statements more times than I care to admit. Aren’t we all? The busyness of everyday life makes it so easy to lose touch with those special people in our lives. My typical excuse is work. Sincere, but... Be it writing, researching, deadlines, travel, revisions...the list goes on. And I’m sure yours does too.
The issue of communication is one many families are facing today and I wanted to explore it in my latest novel, THE SUMMER GIRLS. In preparation for writing this book, I extensively researched the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, animals noted for their phenomenal ability to communicate and connect.
A dolphin’s elaborate communication system has yet to be fully understood. Dolphins employ an intricate system of clicks, whistles, squeaks, and the powerful echolocation (sonar). Recent research revealed how a mother dolphins gives her calf a " signature whistle" at birth. This is equivalent to our names, an important discovery that points to their high intelligence and social sophistication. Communication begins at the onset of life in a dolphin family!
In THE SUMMER GIRLS I created three characters--Carson, Eudora and Harper, half sisters who spent their childhood summers together with their Mamaw at Sea Breeze on Sullivan’s
Island. But like so many of us, the bonds of sisterhood crumbled as they
became adults and moved to distant parts of the country. At the story's onset,
they are virtual strangers.
Carson is a loner; she can't maintain a relationship, not even with a condo. Dora is divorcing her husband and struggling to communicate with her nine-year-old son, Nate, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. And Harper connects to the internet but not face to face. Rather, she prefers to watch the world from a safe distance. Each has a major communication flaw that the reader can relate to. And their reunion doesn’t go as Mamaw planned. Heated conversations and inflammatory remarks quickly dig up old family lies and disheartening truths.
What can Mamaw do to help them? What can any of us do to encourage communication in our families in the modern age? What can the dolphins teach us?
Watch this short clip to hear more from me about the major theme of communication in THE SUMMER GIRLS.