Monday, 18 June 2012

Author Spotlight - Q&A with Petie McCarty

STEPH: I don't know much about "Everglades." What's it about?

PETIE: Environmental photographer Kayli Heddon has strong ties to the sitting governor of Florida who asks her to do a controversial and top-secret photo-essay on the Everglades Restoration which the governor intends to use to garner the environmental vote in his re-election bid. An airboat safari is set up with a Seminole airboat guide to take Kayli and her entourage deep into the River of Grass for her pictures.

Unfortunately Kayli's scheduled guide gets side-tracked and begs his cousin -- half-Seminole, half-Cuban sugar plantation owner, Skye Landers -- to take the tour in his place. To further complicate matters, Kayli's ex-boyfriend Clay Jameson finds out about the airboat tour and decides to tag along. Jameson and Landers are at immediate loggerheads, and Kayli is caught in the middle, agitated with Jameson and beguiled by Landers.

Kayli is in charge of the expedition and insists on calling the shots; Landers is used to giving orders not taking them. When Kayli finds herself stranded alone with Landers, she learns that trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass, and a skilled partner can make all the difference in your survival.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

PETIE: Everglades took about a year to write, much longer than any of my other manuscripts. I wrote a large part of the story while taking care of my mother when she was under Hospice care. The story provided a much needed outlet for emotions during the minutes I could spend writing while my Mom slept. This manuscript is closer to my heart than any of the others, and I am very thankful Desert Breeze agreed to publish it.

STEPH: How much research did you have to do?

PETIE: Tons. Once the story popped in my head, I knew I didn't want to misstep either with the existing restoration effort [known as the CERP, or Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, and co-managed by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers --] or with the venerable Seminole Tribe of Florida or with the sugar plantation industry. The research for Everglades is the main reason the story took so long to write, and I probably spent the better part of two months studying books, articles and web sites on the various factors before I ever started filling in my scene bullets.

STEPH: How does the cover reflect the story within?

PETIE: The cover is shows a tree hammock in the Everglades like many of those described in the book. Indigenous and unique hydrology, endangered species, and climatic conditions create a sensual backdrop for the story. The Everglades ecosystem functions like Cupid's arrow for two perfectly suited people who would otherwise never have found each other.

STEPH: Kayli is the heroine. What are her strengths? Weakness?

PETIE: Orphaned at a young age, Kayli is determined to carry on her parents' legacy of fighting to protect the famous River of Grass and jumps at the chance to complete the governor's assignment. She, like her parents before her, blames the sugar plantation owners and farmers for polluting her beloved Everglades.

Raised by an absentee aunt, Kayli has learned to take care of herself and to depend on no one else. She has no fear of new challenges, yet trust comes hard to her, and she has a habit of choosing boyfriends who need her to take care of them rather than vice versa. That is, until she meets Skye Landers.

STEPH: What does Skye find appealing about her?

PETIE: Kayli is the first woman Skye has ever met who cares as much about the River of Grass as he does. Her devotion to the Everglades forms an immediate atraction for him and also keeps him at arm's length for he knows if she finds out who he really is, she will hate him. Circumstances force Kayli to trust him, and with that trust, he earns her loyalty and an airboatload of guilt for not coming clean about who he is and what he does.

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

PETIE: Never pre-judge a book by its cover. Likewise, people are not always who they seem. Never ever lay out rules or templates in your head for selecting the love of your life, for your heart will surprise you every single time. True love finds its own path to happiness, and it doesn't consider income or career choice.

STEPH: As a writer, where do you draw inspiration from?

PETIE: Some writers have muses. I have always thought of my stories as "one of those God things [a saying my family has] ." I had never felt the magic urge to write when I was younger…or even when I was older. There came a day when I wanted a new job, and I decided to let God pick my new job rather than searching for the wrong one on my own. So I said, "God, please find a new job for me, the one you want me to have." Two months later, I started writing the story that wouldn't get out of my head. Until that day, I had never considered writing a book or even a short story -- I didn't think I could. For a while after that, writing was just something I had to do. And along the way, I fell in love with writing. My stories are not there one minute and the next minute they are there from start to finish, and I spend a day speed-writing scene bullets. I'm only allowed to wind my way in between, and I'm lucky enough to see the movies running in my head.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

PETIE: I was given a Nook for my birthday this year, and I didn't really want one, loving the feel and yes, even the smell of books. But my darling husband reminded me that if I didn't have a Nook I'd never get to read my own book. So on my release date, I got to put my book in my Nook. ☺ So I could look at my book in my Nook whenever I took ….oh never mind, there's no more "ook"s.

STEPH: Fun question: Any summer vacation plans? Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean? Why?

PETIE: Where am I going this summer? I'm going to Disney World…oh wait, I go there every day. I work there -- at the happiest place on earth. ☺

Seriously, we have a second home in Crossville, Tennessee on the Cumberland Plateau, so I'm headed there in July for a book signing at the Art Circle Public Library. The director was happy to have a book signing for an E-pub. Yea! Crossville is also the golf capital of Tennessee so I will get a few rounds in as well.

Find me on the web link:

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  1. What a fascinating story - both your own and the book. My in-laws live near Crossville and we're near Nashville. Let us know when your signing is - might be able to get there!

  2. Petie, writing can be such an outpouring of emotion when you really need it. Everglades sounds like it has a nice mix of adventure and romance. I'm looking forward to reading it!


  3. What a neat setting for a story! I never would have thought of it. It's nice to hear about your writing journey. :)

  4. Petie!!!! What a fantastic interview. I am now heading over to Amazon to pick up this book. I love the sound of it, my cup of tea.
    Great interview, great story! Woot!!!

  5. Petie,

    The story dropped me smack in the middle of the Everglades. I swear I could hear the roar of the airboats engine as they skimmed across the river of grass. Aside from alligators and snakes, the villians kept me on the edge!

    Good luck with your unique story!


  6. I'd love reading this story. For some reason I have always had an avid interest in the Everglades.

    When my daughter was so ill, I also used writing to take me to another place. Best of luck with lots or readers. :)

  7. Petie, I love how in faith you asked God for a job and how the adventure came to you! The story sounds wonderful too. Maybe I'll see you in Tennessee!

  8. Petie, I love how in faith you asked God for a job and how the adventure came to you! The story sounds wonderful too. Maybe I'll see you in Tennessee!

  9. Very interesting blog, Petie. I am fascicnated with the setting of your story and I wish you success with this book.

  10. I know what happens when you think you've picked out the type of person you thing you're going to marry. I did that. I wanted a man with blonde hair and blue eyes. But when I met my husband, Danny, before I knew I liked him, I started dreaming about him, and I'd try to change the channel to what I wanted, but every time I tried to kiss what I thought I wanted Danny's face appeared.

    I married him just so my dreams wouldn't go berserk on me... LOL

    Tina P.

  11. Love Fla for a setting. Can't wait to read it.
    Janis Lane
    Sandpiper Affair
    Gone to the Dogs