Wednesday, January 4, 2012

GUEST AUTHOR POST: 10 Things you didn't know about Key of Sea by Mary Stella

10 Things You didn't know about Key of Sea by Mary Stella

Thanks so much for inviting me to do a post for Waiting on Sunday to Drown.  I have to say that the topic’s fun and intriguing to me at the same time.  What can I reveal about one of my books that will entertain both the person who’s already read it and the reader who might want to give it a try?

Here, in totally random order are ten things you didn’t know about Key of Sea.

1)    I never expected the original publishing house to keep the title.  Since my first book was called All Keyed Up and both books are set in the Florida Keys, I wanted to include Key in the title of the second book, but I couldn’t come up with something that fit.  I finally put Key of Sea on the document so that I could refer to it as something other than “My next book”.  It grew on me, but I was positive that the publisher would change it.  Imagine my surprise when they didn’t!  Once they told me that the title would remain, I went through the manuscript and wove in a few things that would tie the title a little more to the story.

2)    The opening of the book was inspired by a conversation I had one night at dinner with a close friend.  Many restaurants down here in the Florida Keys have at least one mounted fish or fish replica hanging on a wall.  Over dinner I studied the mounted tarpon – which is a large sport fish – on a wall and asked Marilyn, “Wouldn’t it stink if a woman suddenly realized that she meant less to her husband than his trophy fish?”  Mar agreed that it would indeed stink and I was off and running with the opening scene of Key of Sea.

3)    Like my heroine Dora Lee, I loathe land crabs and once dueled with one in my backyard.  My weapon of choice?  A long-handled pooper scooper!  I’m happy to say I won the battle, but it wasn’t easy.  FYI, pooper scoopers make effective weapons when necessary.  I have also used mine to vanquish a scorpion.  I told the story of battling the land crab to my friend Heather Graham and her family.  They insisted that I had to include it in a book one day.

4)    I named my hero after two men I’ve had big time crushes on at different times in my life.  Bobby was a neighbor many, many years ago.  Daulton is the last name of a former major league catcher that played for my favorite baseball team, the Philadelphia Phillies.  Other than the borrowed names, any resemblance of any character to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.  Really!

5)    In each of my two books, there is a restaurant or bar inspired after one that I like in the Keys.  When a bartender I know read Key of Sea, she figured that out immediately!

6)    The first half of the book took me several months to write.  When the original publishers contracted for it, they asked me if I could deliver it in less than two months.  “Absolutely!” I promised.  I’ve never written so much so fast.  I got up an hour early each day, said no to a number of social invitations, but delivered on time – and even had a few days to spare to go over it for some revisions and tweaks.

7)    More than one writer cautioned me that readers would not be sympathetic to a main character who had been a trophy wife to an older, wealthy man.  I was convinced that readers would grow to love Dora Lee, flaws and all, and end up rooting for her to succeed.  I’m so happy that reader feedback has been 100% positive about Dora!

8)    When I started writing Key of Sea, I knew that Dora would have a best friend in the story but I honestly didn’t have any preformed ideas about that character.  Jo Jo jumped off the page with her voice, her clothing and her personality in the very first scene in which she appears.  Seriously, that woman practically wrote herself.  (I will admit, however, that I borrowed a little from my friend, author Beth Ciotta when describing Jo Jo’s ability to wear a variety of creative outfits and styles.  Beth used to be a full time entertainer and her fashion sense is inspiring!)

9)    There’s a scene where Dora visits her older friend Ruby’s dolphins at Dolphin Land.  The experience of playing with a dolphin really happened to me.  Yes, sometimes real life inspires our writing.

10)  Readers often think that we authors know everything there is to know about our characters and story before we write.  I knew a lot about Dora Lee and what I hoped to represent with her.  I reread the book for the first time last year, prior to putting it up for sale in e-format.  I have to say that there are things that Dora taught me about reinventing your life that I didn’t see as clearly the first time around.  I’m grateful for the lessons!

Key of Sea is Mary Stella's second book.  For more information about the author and her books please check out her personal website at


Michael Meeske said...

Mary: Great post!I think it would be very hard to write about ten things your readers don't know - made me think about my work. You have a wealth of character studies in the Keys to keep you inspired. Interesting reading.

Mary Ricksen said...

They say to write what you know. Or learn to know. There's a lot of stories to be told about a colorful place like the Keys! Good luck with the tour and re-release of both great books!

Alyssa Maxwell said...

I love how you used your own experiences and favorite places, etc. to build your beautiful setting in the FL Keys. You do more than write what you know, Mary, you obviously write what you love, what fires your enthusiasm. Congrats on these re-releases!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

You certainly do work personal experiences into your stories! Your setting details show how much you love the locale.

Robena Grant said...

I loved both of your books. I've only been to the Keys once and that was thirty five years ago. Through reading your stories I got to visit again. Thank you. : )

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