by Susan Wiggs
One of the most frequently asked questions readers ask on my Facebook page is, “What’s the meaning behind the dedication page?” I usually dedicate a book to someone who is important in my life at the time I’m writing it. Sometimes it’s obvious–my parents, a family member, my editor or agent, a fellow writer.
In THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, it commemorates one of the most joyous things that ever happened to me. I became a grandmother for the first time. Clara Louise is named after my awesome mom, and she is showing signs of being every bit as awesome as her predecessor. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the photos!
There are always hints in my novels about things that have happened in my personal life. There’s a lavish wedding in THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, and it has lots of elements of my own.
Like Isabel in the novel, I was happily single and had a happy life, filled with friends and family, adventure and travel and writing. When you think nothing can be better than the life you have, and then suddenly you meet someone and the world shifts, you should definitely pay attention to that. It’s kind of like watching a really good movie, and then putting on the 3D glasses. It’s different. Brighter, clearer, more vivid.
My 3D moment came along as I was working on THE APPLE ORCHARD. On a perfect summer day, he came riding on a bicycle from the ferry terminal to my house to make homemade guacamole and margaritas. (I already know you want the recipes, so I’m including them below.)
What happened after that was a combination of chemistry, magic and timing. The lightning bolt of attraction left me breathless–but family and work obligations kept us apart for weeks. There is a special kind of yearning that takes hold when love is brand new, and you can’t be with that person. Jerry had to leave for a remote surf beach in Tofino on Vancouver Island, Canada, to take his two sons on a long-promised holiday. After that, he had a work meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the U.S., followed by a business trip to Hong Kong and mainland China. In the meantime, I was headed to Melbourne, Australia to give a keynote speech to the Romance Writers of Australia.
As in any good novel, complications ensued. While visiting Australia, I took a young Doberman Pinscher skateboarding (that’s when “adventurous” turned to “foolishness”) and ended up shattering and dislocating my wrist, engendering a trip to the emergency room, a hospital stay, and surgery. It seemed as if circumstances were conspiring to keep us apart.
But like any smitten fictional couple, the heart wants what it wants when it wants it. Despite being in different hemispheres and different time zones, we were determined to get to know one another and see if the magic we found on our first date was the relationship we’d both been looking for all our lives. In a matter of a few weeks, we traded hundreds of e-mail and text messages, online chats and photographs. We talked about our lives, our feelings, our past and our present. Families, kids and dogs. Education, work, ambition, values. And love. Neither of us shied away from talking about love, because we are both true believers.
In one of the many heartfelt or funny or poignant messages I sent, I mentioned that I had declared for myself an official “Year of Yes.” Wanting to focus only on positive energy, I made a vow to myself that no matter what anyone asked me, no matter what the question, my answer was going to be “yes.”
Most of the time it was easy:
Will you come to Australia and give a keynote speech? YES.
Will you write a book about Isabel as a follow-up to THE APPLE ORCHARD? YES.
Will you take a Bikram yoga class? YES.
Will you put on a bikini and go to Byron Beach? YES.
Will you take the Doberman skateboarding? YES. (Some of my “yesses” didn’t work out so well.)
And then he asked me,
Will you meet me in Hong Kong and stay at the Peninsula Hotel for a week?
Um, that would be a YES.
I arrived in Hong Kong with a cast on my arm and a heart full of hope. We had already written our love story, in all those messages back and forth. By the time we saw each other at the most incredible hotel in the world, we already knew everything we need to know.
The emotional truths that emerge for the characters in THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL are that people might not always be in the happiest of places, but love makes everything better. And life can’t always be perfect, but a moment can. In the novel, my message to Isabel is the kind of advice I’d give anyone in the middle of her happy, fulfilling life: It’s true that life gives lessons–but it’s up to you to pay attention to the message. What Isabel realizes in the course of her story is that the best time to fall in love is when life is good. Because that way, you can’t miss love when it comes along.
My other piece of advice–whip up a batch of guacamole, make margaritas for your friends, invite someone new into your life…and say YES.
GIVEAWAY! Post a comment below, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for one of five signed copies of THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL, which will be shipped along with a Sweet Cream & Honey Relish Glass Candle, to set the mood for a great evening of reading. Post your comment by July 7 and the random drawing will be on July 8.
She lives at the water’s edge on a Puget Sound island and finds inspiration in the rhythm of the seasons, and in the emotional dramas of everyday life. She’s been featured in the national media, and is a popular speaker locally and internationally.
A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has received three RITA(R) Awards and numerous starred reviews. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages. THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.
The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, and a passionate supporter of libraries and literacy. She loves hiking, biking, yoga and skiing, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book.
Recipes by Request!
Guacamole by @imakepesto
3 ripe avocados–the Haas variety is the creamiest and more flavorful
2 ripe tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch scallions
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small bunch cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lime, juiced
sea salt to taste
Chop all the ingredients and combine in a nice big bowl. Or put all the ingredients together in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly until everything is chopped but not smooth. Salt to taste. Serve immediately with fresh corn tortilla chips.
Homemade Margaritas by @beachwriter
1 jigger top-shelf tequila, such as Patron or Don Pedro
1 jigger Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 jigger fresh squeezed lime juice
sea salt and ice
Place tequila, liqueur and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously. Pour into glasses with salted rims and serve immediately.
THE BEEKEEPER’S BALL can be purchased in hardcover or eBook format