"Some of you may not know this, but I wrote Alabama Skye as a stand-alone novel. I wanted to tell the story of the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter―one that closely resembled the one I shared with my Mimi. It wasn’t until readers began to tell me that they didn’t think the story―particularly Noah’s― was finished did I even think about making Alabama Skye the first book of a series. Come to find out, there was a lot more story to be told. You readers are pretty smart. If it hadn’t been for you, A Skye Full of Stars would never have been written, and neither would the upcoming Under a Southern Skye. Let this be proof that authors are always paying attention to those of you who are invested in our books."
This is what I wrote on the Acknowledgements page in the new Gannon book I just finished over the weekend. I hit 'publish' late Saturday night, and am waiting for Amazon to finish their review of the files. This book came as a surprise to me. Up until a few months ago, I didn't know I'd be writing it. An author's brain, man. It's a mysterious place. Even - or especially - for the author.
Every book has a story behind it. This one isn't any different. Although it turned out completely different than I thought it would when the first idea hit me.
I had written a lot for A Skye Full of Stars that didn't actually make it into the book. Most of what got cut was written about Noah and the relationship that was forming between her and Keene. I wrote that book differently than the others. There were two story lines - Meara/Cheney and then Noah - and after I'd combined the two, then read through the first draft, it felt much heavier on Noah's side. I didn't want that to be the case, so I did some cutting.
I'm glad I did. As I stated above, I never had any intention on writing Stars. That seems crazy to me now because it's one of my personal favorites, but it's true. I love the way Stars turned out. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Apparently, I still felt that way even after deciding to use what I'd cut for a short story in the series, because once I started writing, the story took on a whole different direction than I'd imagined it would. Instead of being focused on Noah and Keene, it took a bit of a turn. The more I thought about it, the more I decided it was Guthrie that I wanted to write about. Noah and Keene are still there - but they aren't the main focus. No ... Guthrie and her lovable stuffed sloth, Noodle, wound up taking center stage.
If you aren't familiar with The Gannon Family series, I don't want to give anything away. I really dislike spoilers, so I'll try to be careful here. At the beginning of Alabama Skye, the first book in the series, Greer, one of the main characters, is three months pregnant. During the course of the novel, she gives birth to a baby girl named after her grandmother, Sarah Guthrie Gannon.
The more I thought about the story brewing in my head, the more it became about Guthrie, and what she meant to her parents, Greer and Jimmy. Of course, that made me think of my own kids, and the fact that there is nothing in this world I wouldn't do for them. A plot began to weave itself together, and I started to get excited. Something was forming, and I was liking it. I was liking it a lot.
This one was emotional - as all of the Gannon novels have been. Those of you who are fans of the series know that going in, right?
I've cried while writing every one of these novels. This one was no exception. This is a novella ... it finished up at just a tad bit under the 30K word mark. I knew it would be a shorter story from the beginning ... but I think, while it's smaller, it's also pretty big, too.
This one is dedicated to Maya and Scott, my kids and two of the most incredible, special people I've ever known.
"Because of the two of you, I’m lucky enough to know what it is to be a mom. It’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced, and by far the one thing I’m the most grateful for in my life. Elements of both Maya and Scotty’s personalities can be found in Guthrie. Sweet, sassy, intelligent, funny, kind and brave. It was them I drew from while writing her. I know Jimmy and Greer well… I am absolutely familiar with the knowledge that a parent will do anything in the world for their child. Without question. I have some experience with the bad guy, as well. Thank goodness neither of my kids do.For those of you who may be wondering … yes, there really is a Noodle. Okay, he isn’t a sloth, he’s a leopard, and his name isn’t Noodle, it’s Spot … but, well, you see what I did there. Just like Noodle, Spot was freed from a lifetime of sitting in a gift shop at the zoo, and he was loved … oh, how he was loved."
|Noodle the sloth|
I pulled out all the stops for this novella. I had a 'be a character' contest, throwing all the names of the readers that left reviews for Alabama Skye and/or A Skye Full of Stars into a hat and drawing the winning name. I actually chose two ... it's so hard to have just one winner. Misty Nickels became one character - a spunky beautician and a good friend of Noah's - and Graham Griffiths played the part of Santa Claus. I'm also having a launch party on Facebook, hosted by the amazing Samantha Soccorso, on December 16th and 17th. We're giving away a big box of prizes to one lucky winner - just one this time, unfortunately.
You can check out my street team on Facebook to find out how you can win this assortment of goodies. There's lots of prizes here ... and even your own Noodle!
I'm glad I wrote A Warm Winter Skye. I'm proud of this story, and I hope you all love it just as much as I do.