by Jenny Chissus
Maggie contacted me about a brand new book she has written hoping that there would be plenty of “Seldovians” who would enjoy her fictional story set in ‘Otter Bite’, based on her experience here in Seldovia! I had the opportunity to interview her regarding her new romance novel, and she has sent me two copies – one of which I have donated to the Seldovia Public Library!
Jenny: You say that the fictional town of Otter Bite takes after your summers spent in Seldovia. When did you spend time here, and what inspired you about our community to build a story set in this location?
Maggie: I was in Seldovia during the summers from 1986-2006, and then sporadically after that. I was living and working in Anchorage and my hubby (at the time) and I had a home on MacDonald Spit and a boat in the harbor. My ex still has that home and the “Maggie C” still has a slip in the harbor. I’m in Arizona now, but return to Anchorage every year. I was last in Seldovia in 2014 to scatter my mom’s ashes in Kachemak Bay. She was from Illinois but she loved Seldovia and she always looked forward to visiting. I mention Seldovia in the “acknowledgments” section of the book.
In regard to inspiration, what can I say? Some places you just love. Seldovia is the quintessential Alaskan seaside village–mountains and ocean. Couple that with no road access, and you have a setting that is unique to those in the lower 48. Love the eagles and the gulls and the otters! Love the fishing boats and the small planes. LOVE the temperamental weather. Love the independent spirit of the residents. And there’s a nice mix of people, from “old-timers” to youngsters. I always felt very welcome, and loved to come into town for a latte or a bowl of chowder and a bit of shopping at the tribal store (wild blueberry jam!). When the Mad Fish restaurant was there, my favorite meal was salmon with mango chutney–which is why this is one of Daisy’s specialties. In general, Seldovia, aka Otter Bite, is a setting that offers many opportunities for plots.
I should mention, that the first part of Spooning Daisy is set on the Alaska ferry M/V Columbia. This book is the first in the series and we travel with Daisy as she makes her way to Otter Bite. So, I don’t want readers to start the book and say “Hey! This isn’t set in Otter Bite!” It is, but we have to get there so readers who aren’t familiar with Alaska can appreciate the journey.
Jenny: Would readers recognize “Seldovia” in your story?
Maggie: Readers who are familiar with the area should recognize parts of Otter Bite that I’ve “borrowed” from Seldovia, like St. Nicholas RO church. The Otter Bite Mercantile was inspired by Susan Springer’s shop, and a few other businesses on “Main Street” come from Seldovia’s Main Street. I also mention some favorite Anchorage businesses–Moose’s Tooth and the Artique, plus a nod to Byron Birdsall whose art decorates my Arizona walls. And on page 140, I do mention Seldovia by name as a neighbor of Otter Bite.
Jenny: Were any of your characters based on folks you knew here?
Maggie: Not specifically. However, I do have a town horse in Otter Bite and I vaguely remember seeing a horse in Seldovia once. Maybe Seldovia residents can let me know if I was dreaming that or did someone in Seldovia once have a horse?
Jenny: For someone who has never read your writing before, who is your main audience?
ANSWER: This is a romance so typically my readers are women. Daisy and Max are in their late 30′s, early 40′s so my age group of readers tend to be 35-60. But, of course, I welcome all readers! And this is a romantic comedy so it’s fun with a happy ending.
Jenny: I see you have another book coming in 2017 – Embracing Felicity – is it also set in “Otter Bite”?
Yes, Embracing Felicity is set in Otter Bite and no travelling to get there! The main character, Felicity Ahrnaq is half Alutiiq and she lives on Bobrovie Spit (inspired by MacDonald Spit). In this book, we see a little more of the village and meet a few more of the residents. You can read about Felicity and find an excerpt from the book on my website MaggieMcConnellromance.com
Jenny: Is there any other info about your book you would like folks to know?
There’s a story behind the story. Originally, I wrote Spooning Daisy as a single title (in publishing, that means only one–no sequel), but the publisher (Kensington) loved Otter Bite so much that they asked for two more with the same setting. Truth is, I’m hoping to write even more than that. But it all depends on how well this series of three is received. I would really love to be the “Dana Stabenow” of romance. Yes, that’s pretty lofty, but I love Otter Bite and want to share it with the world. I’m hoping “Seldovians” will help promote the book to friends and family AND to tourists. I’m a new author and it’s easy to get lost in the world of books. I could use a little help. A good review on Amazon
, Barnes & Noble
, and Goodreads would be greatly appreciated. And MANY MANY THANKS to Jenny for this interview. I’m sending her two copies of Spooning Daisy to use as she thinks best. And thanks to Seldovia for some of the best memories of my life! Wouldn’t this be a great setting for a TV series?
Jenny: I’ve always thought so – Seldovia is a magical place! I’m looking forward to reading Spooning Daisy! Thanks for sending the copies our way! Best to you and the Otter Bite series!