When I was a kid growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, summer was my favorite time of year. Those magical days went on forever. I created forts in the back yard, played Batman and Robin in the front, and sang “Hair” at top volume into the fan in the upstairs window because it made my voice sound funny. I helped my mom make macrame curtains (I was a child of the 70s. Shut up!), I brought inventions to life out of cardboard boxes and empty spools of thread, and made butterfly houses. I wrote stories and made art out of stuff I found in the yard. Summer brought the “creator” out of me. It kept my brain in constant motion.
Sometimes my dad took me out on Lake Eerie on his friend’s boat, and we fished for perch. I loved the feeling of the wind whipping my hair, the sun on my face, and the waves rocking underfoot. I played with the minnows in the bait bucket and felt bad for them. We had fish fries, clam bakes, family gatherings in summer. We went to Geauga Lake and Sea World, where I met dolphins and beluga whales and sea lions. Life was so awesome for me as a kid in summer. I never wanted it to end.
Then I grew up.
Summer lost its allure. It’s hot and miserable. The sun gives you skin cancer. You sweat and smell bad. Mosquitoes make a feast of you. Not much to love when you’re worried about paying bills, looking after kids, and figuring out what to cook for dinner. Being an adult sucks sometimes.
The summer of 2006 was a transitory period in my life. I had taught middle school for thirteen years and decided I was done with teaching for good. I lost my direction — my sense of self. A friend was working on her doctoral dissertation and asked if I’d be a subject for her research on something called “The Whale Class.” I was kind of ambivalent about the whole thing, but I said, “Okay, sure, I’ll be a part of your research. Whales might be cool to learn about.”
I had no idea.
I flew up to Gloucester, Massachusetts for the class and got on the boat. Whale blows saturated the air. My heart raced. We got closer. My hands shook. I saw my first whale up close, and I fell apart. There’s no way to describe the thrill, so I won’t even try. I cried. I laughed. I screamed. I jumped up and down. I was completely enthralled.
I not only rediscovered summer on that trip, I rediscovered the lost innocence of youth — that joy and amazement and oneness with the natural world that adulthood robbed from my inner child. And with those feelings came the return of the creative spark I had lost.
A couple years later, the writer kid in me penned a novel. I tried to capture the emotions of what it’s like to meet a whale through my JUST BREATHE trilogy, which isn’t really about whales, though they play a large part. If you like urban fantasy and think whales are interesting or cool, I hope you’ll check out INHALE tomorrow. Maybe it will help you reconnect with nature in some way and help you to see how everything in life is dependent on something else. It’s all about balance. Past and present. Childhood and adulthood. Good and evil.
As summer approaches, the whales are returning to New England. INHALE will take its first breaths in this world tomorrow. I can’t help but think back to those days of light, wonder, and magic and feel energized. I hope that whales and writing will keep me young forever.
What a wonderful life I live!
Huge thanks to Laura Diamond for showcasing me on her blog this week! Today, Trashy’s Treasures reposted an interview with me from a while back. Also, there are a couple of INHALE e-book giveaways going on at Great Imaginations (interview too), The Bookish Babe (awesome review of INHALE as well), and Romance Book Junkies, so check out some of these blogs if you get a chance. Thank you all for supporting me and my books!