Flotsam & Jetsam

What set Ellie off anyway? A thought intruded. No, couldn’t be. He checked her profile. Nah. But his mouth formed a hopeful smile, and he leaned back, humming his favorite tune. Flotsam & Jetsam

The dashing Frenchman or the handsome handyman? Who will she choose? For the Love of a Spy

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Welcome Nell Castle and Turning the Tides

Thank you for welcoming me back to your blog, M. S.! I’m excited to discuss my new release, Turning the Tides.

Set on a fictional island that owes heavily to beautiful Anna Maria Island just north of your home, MS, Turning the Tides is about a woman coming to terms with who she is. Adopted from a South Korean orphanage at the age of two, Lee Cooper has struggled her whole life to fit in the mold created by her American family. When her job requires her to defend a mother accused of child abuse, she’s forced to revisit memories and feelings she hoped she’d buried forever.

Her advocacy for the accused mother puts her in direct conflict with Bricker Kilbourne, the gorgeous, profligate guardian ad litem assigned to represent the interests of the child. He isn’t buying Lee’s excuses for the mother’s behavior, but her impassioned defense makes him wonder if there’s more to this open-and-shut case than meets the eye.

This book is a departure for me in some ways. Whether reading or writing fiction, I’ve always prioritized the study of character over plot development. This is the first time I’ve attempted to incorporate mystery into a story. I’m inspired by novels like yours, MS, where you beautifully balance intrigue, suspense, and romantic tension.

Character is still king with me, though. Ever since I was a young girl, I liked to observe the people around me and create my own stories about them. Turning the Tides was inspired by a dear friend of mine whose origins were much the same as Lee Cooper’s. I always wondered about the two unaccounted years of my friend’s life in the orphanage before she was adopted. What are the consequences of growing from infant to toddler without the direct, loving care of a parent? My friend is a true original, with a personality so magnetic you can feel it pull you across the room. Considerate, loving, and generous, she also has a tough side; thick fencing that comes up to protect her when she feels vulnerable. With this character, I wanted to explore the dual qualities of fences that Robert Frost expressed in Mending Wall: “What [was] I walling in or walling out.” I’m grateful to my friend for allowing me to use the bare bones of her biography to inspire the character of my heroine.

Excerpt (G): The Alligator
“You don’t understand,” she whispered into the phone, gazing at the canal. Had the alligator inched closer to the egret?
“Then make me understand, Lee,” Bricker urged. “Talk to me.”
She closed her eyes. How to explain a lifetime of being the outcast, rejected by her birth family, and not quite fitting in her adopted home, either? “My sister. My family.” The words caught in her throat. “I have to tell them what they want to hear. My life is easier when they think I agree.” Lee ground her forehead against her knee. He’d never understand what living a lie was like.
“You have the right to be happy, Lee. Even if your idea of happiness is different than theirs.”
She shook her head. “I owe them everything. I want to make them proud.”
“You moved halfway across the country to get away from them.” His voice was soft but insistent. “Do you believe you’re making them happy? Because you sure as hell don’t seem to be making yourself happy.”
Squeezing her eyes shut, she lifted her face to the sun. Tears burned the back of her throat. “You’re right. When it comes to being the perfect daughter, I’m even a failure at faking.”
“If you’re not making them happy by ‘faking,’ you may as well be truthful about who you are. Try being honest with how you feel. Tell them what you really want.” He paused, his voice deeper. “You could practice with me.”
Her breath caught as she sensed an invitation in the thickening of his voice. She slid her legs down to the sun-warmed planks of the balcony. “What do you mean?”
“Tell me what you feel about me.”
His voice purred through the phone like a sunbathing lion’s. She ran her hand over the back of her damp neck. Every nerve ending in her body stood at alert. She eyed the alligator, as still as a boulder in the canal. Mere yards away, the egret remained oblivious to its stalker. Lee took a deep breath. “I’m afraid of you.”
“Why would you be afraid? All I want is to get close to you.” His words caressed her like warm hands. “Do you want to get close to me?”
Great drops of sweat slid from her neck into her T-shirt. She dug her fingers into her thigh. “Yes,” she whispered into the phone.
A violent splash of water from the canal shattered the stillness. The egret soared into the air, its great wings straining as it raced away over the canal.
The alligator stood motionless on the shore.

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Nell Castle
About the Author:  
Nell Castle grew up in western Pennsylvania and graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia. Since then, she’s lived in Key West, Anchorage, Sarasota, and Virginia Beach. She moved back to northeastern Ohio to raise her kids closer to the family homestead but looks forward to moving back to a gentler climate. Until then, she revisits white powder beaches and mountain streams in her writing. Turning the Tides is her second release with The Wild Rose Press.


Elizabeth Hamilton said...

Thanks for these new insights into the character of Lee and the background of your friend whose biography was the model. I've just started to read "Turning the Tides" and I'm hooked! I served as a guardian ad litem, so it's really interesting to view another person in that role who--at least so far--doesn't fit my sense of what personality type is well suited to it. You really are delving into an array of character studies!

Nell Castle said...

I hope as the story evolves it will become more evident why a gorgeous bartender was drawn to that particular volunteer opportunity. I envy you your guardian experiences, and still hope to train someday as a GAL. Thanks for buying the book, Elizabeth. I hope you enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Just got the book Nell and I've Very excited that it's a rainy day so I can read it all at once. This sounds Fascinating-very much looking forward to getting into details that I've never known. Will post again when I've got it read. Can't wait!!

Charlotte O'Shay said...

Wow ! Powerful excerpt. Gorgeous writing. Congratulations on your release Nell.

Nell Castle said...

I appreciate that Charlotte! Anonymous, I hope it meets your expectations, and I truly appreciate you buying this book!

Melissa Reahm said...

Just finished Turning the Tides the other day. I must say, it was quite a page turner. I have loved both of your books, Nell, and I am excitedly looking forward to the next one!!!

Nell Castle said...

Bless you, Melissa! Thank you for stopping by and letting me know what you thought about the book.

M. S. Spencer said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by! M. S.

Pattie Condelllo said...

I love how the book pulls me into the characters. Between my reading opportunities I find myself wondering how the characters are doing...as if they are my friends and I'm involved in their lives. It pulls you in. I enjoy your writing, Nell! Loved your last book too. So happy you share your stories!