A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.
In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.
Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.
A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.
Sarah Jio's debut novel, The Violets of March, speaks to every woman who has ever felt a little lost in her own life. Just as Emily Wilson seemed to have it all together, her world starts to fall apart around a broken marriage. In an effort to redefine happiness and rediscover herself, she taps into the power of her past. Taking a break from her new life in New York leads her back to Bainbridge Island, where she dives into vivid childhood memories, and uncovers a family secret. By skillfully weaving Emily's painful present with her family's mysterious past, Jio takes the reader on a beautiful journey and asks the reader to consider the healing ability of the world around us.
TM - What is the background behind the plot of The Violets of March?
SJ- I grew up near Bainbridge Island, Washington, where my book is set, and I spent many happy hours there as a child. I’ve always felt the island had a special quality, so when I sat down to write the book, this was the natural place for me. I’m also a huge fan of 1940s music and movies, so partially setting the novel in this decade worked for me (seriously, I grew up knowing more about Cary Grant movies than Tom Cruise movies!). But, ultimately, the inspiration for Violets came from a very special song I heard years ago on a jazz station in Seattle (KPLU 88.5 FM, in fact!). The song, The Waters of March by the late Susannah McCorkle, absolutely haunted me. I began to imagine a story that would suit the song, and voila, Violets was born. The early title for the novel was actually "The Waters of March," in fact!
TM- Briefly describe your own emotional journey in birthing this book.
SJ- Oh good question! As a mother of three little boys (one newborn!), the novel debut process does feel a little like new motherhood. I feel very protective of the story and its characters. I hope they are received well and loved in the way I love them. Silly, yes, but it’s very true. I always tell new writers that my best fiction-writing advice is to not start writing a story that you aren’t 100 percent captivated by. If you do not love your characters, agents, editors and readers will be able to tell. So just as I love my kids, I love my stories and characters.
TM - What did you learn about yourself as a writer in the process?
SJ- My novels (my second, The Bungalow, will be out in April 2012) tend to include a mix of love and mystery, and this combo really works for me. It keeps me engaged and it gets me emotionally involved with the characters in the way I hope readers will too.
TM - I love how you allow Emily the freedom and courage to find herself in an honest way. Speak to the importance of doing so, as a woman.
SJ - This is such an interesting thing to think about. I really loved showing Emily, an accomplished person and writer, fumbling in life. We all fumble. We all make mistakes and second-guess ourselves. Emily finds that she has to face her demons, fears, and a mysterious past, for her to overcome the issues in her life. That’s something that I can identify with, and I suspect a lot of others can too.