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Title: Summer of the Oak Moon
Publication date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Laura Templeton
Rejected by the exclusive women’s college she has her heart set on, Tess Seibert dreads the hot, aimless summer ahead. But when a chance encounter with a snake introduces her to Jacob Lane, a black college student home on his summer break, a relationship blooms that challenges the prejudices of her small, north Florida town.
When Jacob confesses that Tess’s uncle is trying to steal his family’s land, Tess comes face to face with the hatred that simmers just below the surface of the bay and marshes she’s loved since birth. With the help of her mentor Lulu, an herbal healer, Tess pieces together clues to the mysterious disappearance of Jacob’s father twenty-two years earlier and uncovers family secrets that shatter her connection to the land she loves.
Tess and Jacob’s bond puts them both in peril, and discontent eventually erupts into violence. Tess is forced to make a decision. Can she right old wrongs and salvage their love? Or will prejudice and hatred kill any chance she and Jacob might have had?
Thanks so much for having me on the site today!
When did you start writing?
I started writing fiction when I was in college—many moons ago. It quickly became a passion for me, and I changed my major from Business Administration to English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I didn’t start writing seriously, though—that is with a real goal of publication—until about six years ago.
What makes you want to write?
For me, it’s all about having a creative outlet. Despite my change in major, I’ve worked in business for years. So, my day job is quite analytical and logical. Writing gives me a way to use a different skill set. Also, quite simply, I write because I love to read. The desire to write was born out of a crazy obsession with books.
Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it?
I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block. I’ve had times in my life when I didn’t write...because I didn’t want to write then. I was too busy or had other interests. But whenever I establish a writing habit, the words usually flow. I think the key is forming the habit—your mind needs to know when to slip over into creative mode. If you train it, it tends to perform. At least that’s true for me.
Do you have a special way of going about writing?
I usually write very early in the morning, so I make a cup of tea, light a candle at my desk, and settle down to write in a blissfully quiet house. (Unless, of course, my basset hound decides he absolutely MUST go out at 4am...which happens all too often!) After that’s taken care of, my MO is to try to get a first draft done without too much rewriting. That first draft is sort of a creative dump—it gets the story and major themes out on paper. After that work is done comes the hard part—lots and lots of rewriting and refining.
Do you have any works in progress?
I have several actually. In particular, I’m working on a second young adult novel (working title is The Secret Name) set on the Georgia coast. It’s in a similar Southern gothic style as Summer of the Oak Moon, with romance, mystery, and an intriguing (I hope) setting.
What are your hobbies?
Reading fiction. Reading nonfiction. Reading vegan food blogs. (Are you noticing a trend?) Also, I’m a big gardener (like Tess in my novel), and I love doing anything outdoorsy—walking, hiking, kayaking. And I ice skate...badly.
How did you choose the character names for Summer of the Oak Moon?
That’s tough because it’s hard to pinpoint—it’s sort of a creative juggling act of what feels right and what the name actually means. For Tess, I originally thought of Celeste, which seemed suitably dreamy and mysterious. But it felt like too much name for the character that developed, so I shortened it to Tess. For Jacob, I wanted a Biblical name and Jacob seemed right.
Who is your favourite character in Summer of the Oak Moon?
Definitely Tess. I’m a character-driven writer, and it was the character of Tess that formed the creative impetus for the story. I started “hearing” her voice, and the story developed around her. I enjoy watching her grow into a much more mature young woman than the girl who, in Chapter 1, storms out of the house yelling at her mother.
How did you get the idea for Summer of the Oak Moon?
In the year or two prior to writing the novel, I had done a great deal of reading about the civil rights era. At the same time, we moved to a new county, a more rural area than anywhere I’d lived before. I learned that there was an unsolved lynching of two black couples in the county in 1946, so I read about that, too. As I read and thought about my own experiences growing up in the South in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, I knew I had to write about the subject. A layered story that examines racial prejudices in both the 1980’s and the 1950’s seemed to fit the bill.
What was your favourite part of writing Summer of the Oak Moon?
I enjoyed writing about the setting. The area of North Florida where the story is set is quite beautiful. Over the years my family has visited there frequently, and I’ve developed a big crush on it. I hope I’ve succeeded in bringing to life some of the area’s charm, mystery, and beauty.
What are you currently reading?
I’m usually reading two books at a time, a novel and something nonfiction. Right now, it’s Karen White’s A Long Time Gone (I love Karen White!) and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, a fascinating take on organization with a decidedly Japanese twist. I’m already plotting a major housecleaning this summer so I can practice her recommendations!
What is your favourite book?
It’s impossible to pick one! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is one I still love after many, many readings. More recent favorites include Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and All the Light We Cannot See.
Who is your favourite author?
Anne Tyler. I’m looking forward to reading her latest, A Spool of Blue Thread. And it was The Accidental Tourist that prompted my very first attempt at a novel. That was when I learned it’s a whole lot easier to start a book than it is to finish one—or even to sustain a middle!
What is your favourite film?
I love classic movies, so I’d have to say it’s a toss up between The Sound of Music (I know every song and an alarming amount of dialogue) and White Christmas (ditto). As many times as I’ve watched them both, I still enjoy every viewing.
What is your favourite TV show?
Um, I don’t really watch TV at all...I love movies, but TV not so much.
Chocolate or ice cream? Chocolate
Paperback or ebook? Ebook (they’re so easy to hold...and to read in the dark!)
Dogs or cats? Both! (I can’t choose...I have multiples of both)
Go out or stay in? Stay in
Summer or winter? Summer
About the Author
Laura Templeton lives near Athens, Georgia, with her husband, son, and a menagerie of animals. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening, learning to figure skate, and taking long walks on the quiet country roads near her home. Something Yellow is her debut novel, and her creative nonfiction has appeared in various publications.