Annie, after many years teaching, delved wholeheartedly into writing. Her novel Castles in the Sand won the 2012 Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest and received the B.R.A.G. Medallion for excellence in indie publishing. To date, she has penned forty short stories and has won, or been short-listed in, several contests. Annie’s short fiction appears in literary magazines and anthologies in Canada and the United States. She has also recently released a picture book titled The Many-Colored Invisible Hats of Brenda-Louise.
Annie is a member of the Federation of British Columbia Writers and the Writers Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador. She lives in British Columbia.
Hi, Annie! Thank you for visiting with me today to talk about your latest B.R.A.G. Medallion! First, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG?
Happy to be here! Thanks for the invite!
I discovered indieBRAG on Twitter when another author tweeted that she had received the B.R.A.G. medallion. I followed the indieBRAG link and, impressed with what I read, I submitted my novel, Castles in the Sand, for consideration. Castles in the Sand became a B.R.A.G. medallion honoree. Due to the numerous benefits of indieBRAG—Amazon and Goodreads ratings, tweets, Facebook feature, Pinterest posts, Stickers, and an interview with Layered Pages—I was eager to submit my current release Of Sea and Seed for indieBRAG recognition. I am thrilled to have received the honor a second time.
I must say, I adore your book title and cover. Please tell me a little about your story and the inspiration behind it.
The Story… Of Sea and Seed is set on the island of Newfoundland in the early twentieth century. At its helm is Kathleen Kerrigan, in life a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and storyteller. In the afterlife she is set adrift, doomed for eternity like some ancient mariner to atone for mortal sin by telling repeatedly, in the same order, without hope of altering the outcome, the story of her life. This she does both as watcher and through the eyes of her children, Kevin and Clara.
The Title… Throughout, the sea is a metaphor for Kathleen, the seed is a metaphor for her offspring.
The Inspiration… The story sparked during a phone conversation with my father who remembers the earthquake and ensuing tsunami of 1929. He told me the following: a little girl was on the second floor of her house when the tsunami took that house out to sea. On the returning wave, the ocean planked the house down a few hundred yards from where it was supposed to be. The little girl survived.
I was hooked.
The research began.
Who designed your book cover?
Since Of Sea and Seed has at its core the tsunami that hit the Burin Peninsula of Newfoundland on November 18, 1929, I envisioned an image of the sea for the cover.
When I finished Book I, I realized that each of the three point-of-view characters had experienced a life-or-death situation in a small, traditional fishing boat, called a dory*.
*Wikipedia: The dory is a small, shallow-draft boat, about 5 to 7 metres or 16 to 23 feet long. It is usually a lightweight boat with high sides, a flat bottom and sharp bows. They are easy to build because of their simple lines. For centuries, dories have been used as traditional fishing boats, both in coastal waters and in the open sea.
I hunted through tons of pictures and chose the cover image from Shutterstock (© Andrejs Pidjass .) From there, I worked with the design team at Create Space.
The traditional dory, as depicted on the cover, has a yellow base and dark green gunnels. When I asked the design team to make the green more visible, they reversed the colors, putting the green on the bottom. No can do! Why? The traditional Lunenburg dory is painted yellow on the bottom because the yellow is visible against the water; the gunnels are dark green because that color is visible in fog. When I explained that to Create Space, they were more than happy to change the design.
Please tell me a little about Clara. What are her strengths and weaknesses?
Of Sea and Seed follows Clara from age six to age twenty-two. Although Clara is limited by the rules of religion and a male-dominated world, she is strong-willed, free-spirited, and adventurous. Her weakness, one which she fights throughout, is her selfishness: she wants her daughter and cannot claim her.
What is the mood or tone your characters portray and how does this affect the story?
One way in which an ominous mood is portrayed is through the use of the Atlantic Ocean as character. (“It begins, and ends, with the sea.”) The residents of the rugged island of Newfoundland are at the beck and call of the sea, which is ever-present, all powerful, and, as stated on page one of the novel, both “matriarch and murderer.”
Of Sea and Seed has three Point of View Characters:
Kathleen (a joy to write, by the way) is poet, storyteller, and historian. She is also victim and conqueror. Although she has no limits of language in the afterlife, she is limited by the way she must tell her story, repeatedly and in the correct order, “like some ancient mariner.” When she says, “Heaven does not open its gates to women of my ilk,” she immediately sets in motion the mood of mystery which pervades the novel.
Clara (Kathleen’s daughter) overcomes the limitations of a church-dominated and male-dominated world. She is a source of optimism, determination, and hope.
Kevin (Kathleen’s son) believes that “the job of a man is take care of his own.” Faced with the devastating loss of his home and family, he rallies, relying on his faith and his surviving child to see him through. An underdog, a diligent worker, a loving father, Kevin represents uncertainty, a life on the cusp.
How long did it take to write your story and where in your home do you like to write?
The story took root in 2009. However, I did not write it immediately. I completed another novel and a children’s book, all the while doing research for Of Sea and Seed.
I like to write at home. In my writing room, there is an armoire which opens to a desk. The beauty of that is, when it’s time to take a break, I close the armoire, lock it, and hang my “Sorry Closed” sign on the door.
Please tell me a little about the period and setting of your story.
The Kerrigan Chronicles are set on the island of Newfoundland in the 1920’s, at a time when Newfoundland was not a part of Canada, but an independent dominion within the British Empire. Although the characters are totally fictional, they are walking through or affected by historical events: the Irish potato famine,
the 1929 tsunami, Prohibition/rum running, all of which are dealt with in Of Sea and Seed.
The next book of the series will deal with World War II. When WW II began, the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave territory in Newfoundland to the United States. In return, President Roosevelt gave Great Britain fifty warships. On the land given to them, the U. S. built military bases. One piece of land (and this is true…my father worked there) was the community of Argentia where the fictional Kerrigan family lives. Almost overnight, their homes were burned and bulldozed to make way for a strategic U.S. naval base.
What is an example of the undercurrents of suspense in your story?
This is a tricky question…no spoilers here! But I can say the following:
- Hinted at, and unraveled, in Book I is the mystery around the death of Kathleen’s baby, Jimmy.
2. Hinted at, and unanswered, in Book I is the dubious nature of Clara’s husband, Robert. Is he hiding something? If so, what? (Stay tuned!)
What is your writing schedule like?
My philosophy is Write First and I do that six days a week. I get up around 4 a.m. and, after coffee, crossword, strength-and-stretch exercises, and walking my dog, I set in. My goal is three hours on my work-in-progress. All else—twitter, FB, Goodreads, Blog, business—is relegated to later in the day, as time and energy permit.
Where can readers buy your book?
Of Sea and Seed is available, in print and e-book, at Amazon
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to Annie Daylon who is the author of, Of Sea and Seed, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Of Sea and Seed, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.