Blog Tour: Swept Away by Michelle Dalton | Guest Post | Giveaway

Welcome to our stop on Swept Away tour for Michelle Dalton. This tour is hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club Tours.

Swept Away
Sixteenth Summer
Author: Michelle Dalton
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Released: May 5th 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Beachfront love blossoms in this refreshing summer romance, in the tradition of Sixteenth Summer and Seventeenth Summer.

Mandy Sullivan isn’t exactly looking forward to the summer months as tourists invade her seaside hometown on the coast of Maine. Her best friend, Cynthia, has abandoned her for camp and her older brother just announced he’ll be staying at college taking classes for the summer, leaving Mandy with nothing to do and no one to hang out with. Hoping to keep herself busy, Mandy takes a volunteer job at the Rocky Pointe Lighthouse. On her very first day, Oliver Farmingham asks for a private tour. A new—and incredibly cute—face in Rocky Pointe, Oliver seems more interested in Mandy than the lighthouse and its history.

Without her best friend at her side, Mandy is scrambling to act the right way and say the right things when Oliver is around. Cynthia—not Mandy—has always been the confident, flirtatious girl that everyone wanted to be around. As Mandy and Oliver spend more time together exploring the coast, biking through the woods, and attending the local summer festivals, their budding friendship becomes much more. But with Mandy’s insecurities creeping to the surface, can she open her heart to someone who will only be in town for three months?

A Tale of Two Stoningtons or Where the Heck IS Rocky Point, Maine?

Don’t go looking for the town of Rocky Point on any map of Maine, because it exists only in my imagination. But it was inspired by a real place. Two real places, actually. And in a delightful coincidence, both of those places are named Stonington.

In addition to being a writer, I’m also an actress. One recent summer I was lucky enough to be cast in a play that was going to be performed on Deer Isle, Maine in a little (very little) place called Stonington. A working fishing industry still operated there, alongside the 19th century opera house that presented live theater, films, and lectures, as well as several art galleries. Most mornings I was awakened at 5 am by the mouthwatering smell of bacon and coffee wafting up from the diner just below my apartment because that was when the fishermen would be heading out for the day. In the afternoon I’d pass by the always-open door of the three (yes, hunky) fishermen who lived downstairs who taught me how to play Guitar Hero.

When I started thinking about writing Swept Away I immediately thought of Stonington. But I also knew my town had to be bigger – and also more accessible to kids on bikes. (In the real Stonington, Maine, you need a car, since it’s not really a self-sufficient community. I did my grocery shopping at a 7-11.) And Stonington, Maine was missing a crucial element that I was determined to include in my story – a lighthouse. 

I’m the kind of writer who does total immersion research as much as possible. For me, it’s always better to experience what I’m writing about, rather than relying solely on books – especially for locations. Not only does this help me when I write descriptions, it also gives me ideas for the characters or the plot that might not have occurred to me. The problem with wi-fi and cell phones, for example, is a very useful problem for me to give Mandy and the others in Swept Away, and one that I thought of because in Stonington, Maine the only place I could get internet access and cell service was at the library.

Maine has plenty of lighthouses. But they were awfully difficult for me to get to. So I started looking for more convenient lighthouses, in places like my imagined town. I scoured maps and focused on Connecticut (which also has its share of lighthouses) and discovered Stonington, CT.

It had everything I was looking for – including a lighthouse museum run by an historical society, and when I visited it was staffed by a high school girl during her summer vacation. It’s located right near Mystic Seaport, the recreated living history village, where I was able to learn even more about lighthouses and lighthouse lore – and get lots of ideas for future books!

I drew maps of the geography and the town layout based on both Stoningtons. The two piers in 
the book are straight from Maine (and, yes, that’s where the booths and the  bands set up for the Lupine Festival and the 4th of July events), while the lighthouse exhibits and the library at the edge of a lovely town square are borrowed from Connecticut. There really are lighthouse and art gallery tours in Maine, nature preserve islands that are ferry rides away, and oh those blueberries! As for the rowboat parade – that’s also based on a real 4th of July event I went to. Only that one was in Cape Cod – another story entirely!

I’m a lot like Oliver (though I share Mandy’s aversion to seafood). I love to research, and I view history as a collection of stories. The best thing about being a writer is that I get to combine so many things I love – learning, history, research, travel –  with one of Mandy’s favorite pastimes. The fun of making things up!

Michelle Dalton is one of the many names Carla Jablonski uses when writing. Her two YAs written as Carla Jablonski (published by Razorbill/Penguin), Thicker than Water and Silent Echoes, were included on the NYPL Books for the Teen Age list, and her graphic novel trilogy Resistance (illustrated by Leland Purvis, published by :01 Books) has won several awards, including the Sydney Taylor Silver Medal. In addition to writing novels she is an actor, playwright, and former trapeze artist. A native New Yorker, she is eternally grateful to her friends who invite her to their beach houses.

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