Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guest Post from Wendy Wax, author of TEN BEACH ROAD

Today I have a special treat for you -- a wonderful guest post from Wendy Wax, author of TEN BEACH ROAD.   I'm so honored to have Wendy here on the shores of A Sea of Books to  rhapsodize about her favorite beach. 

The Beach I grew up on…
Wendy Wax

I was one of those lucky people who grew up on a beach. In my case it was St. Petersburg Beach, that comma of land that curves into the Gulf of Mexico on the west central coast of Florida. It was beautiful all year round, but the summers were especially wonderful. We spent most days on Pass-a-Grille at the southernmost end of St. Pete Beach, at the Rellim Hotel, which was owned by family friends, where the moms played cards and the children, well, romped. 

Some of my earliest memories include holding my breath. Family lore has it that I learned to swim before I could walk. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but I do remember standing on the edge of the deep end where I would wait until people were watching (I guess I’ve always loved an audience) and then throw myself into the swimming pool and swim underwater to the other end where I’d come up for air to adult gasps of relief.  I could and did spend hours in the pool doing handstands and trying to talk underwater clearly enough to be understood. Then there were the summersaults — how many you could complete without having to come up for air was a matter of pride. I’m happy to report that it looks like not breathing while ingesting large quantities of chlorine has had no long term effect.

Those long, hot summer days were spent eating ice cream sandwiches and racing across the sand between the hotel’s freshwater pool and the salty gulf with occasional stops to build sand castles or dig for coquinas. Other days we’d cartwheel down the hard packed sand near the waters’ edge for what seemed like miles.

During the school year, I went to the aptly named, Sunshine Elementary, where we had a fish broil every fall and art class and P.E. sometimes took place on the beach. You can see documentation of all of this at the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum on Pass-a-Grille, where Pass-a-Grille’s 100th anniversary is being celebrated.

My mother used to say that people who lived there had ‘sand in their shoes.’ I thought she meant this literally; after all there was sand everywhere—and not just in our shoes!

It took me a long time to realize that she was referring to the pace at which everyone and everything moved—or didn’t. I grew up assuming that everyone lived across the street from the beach under the shade of palm trees and spent hours perfecting their underwater summersaults. And by the time I’d finished high school, I couldn’t wait to leave for somewhere more exciting. It took going away to fully appreciate how lucky I’d been to grow up in such an incredible place. I’ve searched out sandy spots around the globe, and never found a beach I liked more. 

Which may explain why when I began writing Ten Beach Road, the story of three women who lose their life savings to a Ponzi scheme and are left with only co-ownership of a derelict beachfront mansion, I spent a long time envisioning the house and about two seconds deciding on which beach it would sit.

The locations in Ten Beach Road, on sale May 3rd, are a mixture of real Pass-a-Grille spots that I’ve loved all my life and fictional streets that may confound some of the locals. Bella Flora, the once-fabulous Mediterranean Revival style mansion at the heart of the story sits on the non-existent ‘Beach Road’ (actually 1st Avenue) at the southwestern tip of Pass-a-Grille. (This wasn’t easy as I had to mentally move a condominium building so that Bella Flora could command its spectacular view of the pass and Shell Island.)

Most nights my characters Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant drag their weary bodies out back to toast the sunset and search for at least one good thing to say about their day. In the process, they bond and become friends, working to reclaim their own lives even as they rebuild Bella Flora.

Like me, Madeline, Avery and Nicole know exactly why St. Petersburg Beach has been named ‘the sunset capital of Florida.’

Thank you, Wendy, for sharing your reminisces with us. I've never been to St. Pete's, but I hope to visit some day. (Though I did really like St. Augustine on the opposite coast!)

I hope you'll all check back here tomorrow for my review of Wendy's lovely book, TEN BEACH ROAD.  You can click here if you'd like to read an excerpt.

Click here to visit the author's website.


bermudaonion said...

That does sound like a wonderful way to spend your childhood. I'd love to live on a quiet, secluded beach.

Mary said...

Great guest post. I think that in another lifetime I lived at the beach. If hubby and I ever win the lottery we'll be moving, haha. I really enjoyed Ten Beach Road.

holdenj said...

I enjoyed the post very much. I actually just read the book and like it a lot.

Zibilee said...

St. Pete does have some great beaches, and whenever I take my family on vacation here in Florida, that is where I head. This was such a great post! Thanks for sharing it with us!

SusieQTpies said...

I'm ready to move to a beach at any time! love it.

Thanks for stopping in and entering the Blog Bash Giveaway on my blog! I appreciate it and am following your blog. xoxo SusieQTpies

Nay said...

I've been *dyin'* to read this book:)
Following you back!
Thanks so much for stopping by my humble lil bloggy!