Mara Madness Blog Tour: Michelle Hodkin's talks about why Florida

HELLO! I say that in caps because I'm super excited to be a part of Mara Madness Tour. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is one of my all-time favorite books this year and any year. You can read my review HERE. Today's post from Michelle is about why Florida was chosen as the location for the book. Most of you know already if not you will now, I was born and raised in Miami, FL. So this post means a lot to me. The fact that the book is based in Florida and Miami, its one of the number one reason I LOVED it. So I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did when I read it. 

Now that's not all I wanted to tell you though. This tour has a total of 21 stops. Each of the stops has a special letter to complete a important line from the book. You will have to collect each letter and complete the sentence to enter to win. Even if you haven't read the book, you will still be able to figure out the line, so no worries. The last day to solve the riddle is the 30th. The prizes if you win are: Two winners will be chosen from the correct answers entered. Each winner will win a signed finished copy of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. 

Pretty easy right? SO now you can read about Why Michelle chose Florida and then look for the letter afterward with instructions. 

Dear Once Upon a Twilight Readers,

My name is Michelle Hodkin. My bio says that I grew up in Florida. The book that bio was written for was set in Miami.

Coincidence? I think not.

I’ve had people ask why I set THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER in Florida, and in south Florida of all places. My answer is twofold: 1) MARA DYER is a strange book, and I’ve always found south Florida strange, even though I grew up there, and 2) I grew up there.

Which meant that when I wrote the book, I was able to reference things I was well-accustomed to. Like the green and brown anoles that scatter from walkways at approaching human feet. And the seasonless weather, which gave the school year an infinite, unrelenting quality. And the ridiculous traffic, which made me late to class on more than one occasion when I was finally able to drive myself to school.

I also had the chance to write about places I knew well, like The Metro Zoo, which I used to beg my parents to take me to even though it was far from where we lived and blisteringly hot whenever we went, and The Miami Seaquarium, a place I was also familiar with as a kid, but one I became very disenchanted with as an adult.

There are also plenty of locations I never really explored as a child and teenager which I got to explore when I wrote the book. Little Havana is a prime example: a good friend of mine offered to give me a bit of a walking tour in 2009 when I had just begun writing the book. She took me to Versailles, a restaurant on Calle Ocho, and introduced me to mariquitas (plaintain chips) which I am now obsessed with and to Malta (a soda) which I didn’t really like at first but became rapidly addicted to after a few sips. She also took me to a few botanicas in my quest to learn more about Santeria; the description of the botanica in the book was described exactly as a botanica we visited, and when we went to visit it the following day, we couldn’t find it. We were also chased out of a different botanica by two menacing proprietors, which is an experience I won’t soon forget.

Little Havana, where even the McDonald’s has a Spanish tile roof and is adorned by climbing vines, is just a stone’s throw from some of the most exclusive real estate in the country, a smattering of private, gated islands in Biscayne Bay, which are in turn are less than two hours from the Everglades, which resembles no other land in the entire country. When I lived in Florida, I used to see wild iguanas hanging out on chain link fences while I sat in stand-still traffic on the way to school. And in my suburban neighborhood, alligators would occasionally turn up in neighbors’ pools. It’s a place where the natural mingles with the artificial, where the alien mixes with the mundane. Putting it that way, I don’t think MARA DYER could have been set anywhere else.

Thank you Michelle from this post and bringing back all the great memories I have of Florida. It's definitely the perfect place for The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. 

Now are you ready for your letter? 

Now remember to collect all the letters from each stop. Then you can fill out the form for the puzzle HERE. To check out a full list of all the tour stops click HERE

Thanks to Cindy at Books Complete Me for hosting the tour and to Michelle for being just pure AWESOMESAUCE. 

Good Luck! 

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