Finally, June first, the actual release date for Before the Storm, is here (well, it will be tomorrow), so I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts about this book.
The idea for Before the Storm initially came to me in two parts. I was thinking about a story idea involving a teenager who appears to be a hero but who may or may not be heroic in reality. At the same time, I took part in an annual event on Topsail Island called the Authors’ Moveable Feast, sponsored by Quarter Moon Books. (side note: this was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve ever particpated in. Akin to “speed dating”, authors move from table to table at a luncheon, taking ten minutes to tell the diners about his or her book). Once I saw Topsail Island, I knew it would be the setting for my next book. So immediately, I began to think about my teenaged “hero” and how his or her story would fit into that setting.
I wanted my teen’s heroism to be a surprise to the town’s people, so I needed to figure out why that would be the case. Thus, Andy Lockwood, a boy who is a simple, concrete thinker due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, was “born.” In my long ago career as a clinical social worker in the maternity unit of a hospital, I learned how drinking during pregnancy could impact a child, and later, when I worked with teens in my private practice, I saw some of those children and witnessed their struggle to fit in with their peers as well as to achieve in school. I also witnessed their considerable charm. Andy grew into a charmer in my mind, and I think you will come to like him very much–even as you wonder about his suspect heroism.
I’d like to say that I “gave” Andy a sister and a widowed mother, but my writing often seems out of my control, and that was the case here. Andy’s sister Maggie and his mother Laurel simply appeared. As a matter of fact, as Maggie began telling me about herself, starting with the statement “My father was killed by a whale,” I knew I was in danger of her hijacking the entire story. Anyone who’s read the story will understand why I used the picture of the humpback above as my desktop image while I wrote Before the Storm.
I’ve discussed much more about the writing of, and research behind, Before the Storm here on my website, so I won’t go into more of it now. Instead, I’d like to say how much the story means to me. Living with these fictional people for a year made them part of my heart. They feel real to me–as real as the affection and empathy I have for them. I hope your experience of them is similar, and I hope you find the story engrossing, suspenseful and rewarding.
If you’d like to discuss Before the Storm here on the blog, I welcome you to do so. But if your post might “give something away”, please begin it with the word SPOILER, so those who haven’t yet the book will be able to enjoy any surprises for themselves.