By now, maybe you’ve guessed who the major character of Treasure Beach is going to be. The first installment of the “novellini” went up on Tuesday, to be followed by many more. Each Tuesday, right through July, a new part will debut. Timewise the story fits snugly between Fortunate Harbor and Sunset Bridge, at the very end of summer, and features the women of Happiness Key.
I’m not ashamed to say Treasure Beach is in part promotion for the series. If you haven’t read Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor yet, I hope you’ll want to after reading Treasure Beach. Then I hope you’ll run right out and buy Sunset Bridge the moment it hits the shelves of your favorite bookstore in July. All three novels are quintessential beach books, set on Florida’s gulf coast in a small, rundown beach community. They feature four very different women who are sure, right from the beginning, that they have nothing in common, only to discover that friendship is the greatest equalizer.
There is a “fifth” female in the community, too. Olivia Symington, age eleven and granddaughter of Alice, appears in all the novels. While some of the other characters come and go, Olivia is in every book. When I began to think about stories I hadn’t had time to tell, I thought about Olivia and knew Treasure Beach should be hers.
Once upon a time, Olivia had a larger role in the series. She even had a point of view in Happiness Key, and we saw scenes through her eyes and heard her thoughts. But as I so often do, I overwrote. Happiness Key was too long, even by my standards. Before I submitted the manuscript, I knew it had to be cut. And while Olivia’s scenes offered depth, they did not move the story forward. So sadly, Olivia’s point of view disappeared in my final version.
And darn, I missed it.
Olivia has suffered a number of losses in her short life, and she suffers another at the end of Fortunate Harbor. Her best friend Lizzie moves away without a word. And while Olivia seems to take this in stride, I remember how devastating this can be in real life. Don’t you? At eleven, a best friend is one of the most important people in a girl’s life. And Olivia is an intelligent, sensitive child who carries a lot of baggage.
Since Treasure Beach was written after I completed Sunset Bridge, I knew what was awaiting Olivia in the final book. I decided that I had been given a golden opportunity. I could provide the transition for her, let my readers experience her thoughts and feelings in more depth, and set up some of the action in Sunset Bridge. I could, at long last, give Olivia a voice.
Of course Olivia doesn’t exist in a vacuum. She’s loved and watched over by all the women of Happiness Key. So, of course, each of them appears in Treasure Bridge and is heard, as well. We even get some hints of what’s to come. And trust me, it’s never a chore to write from Wanda’s point of view or to think about her pies.
I fell back into the community of Happiness Key as if I’d never been away. Treasure Beach was as refreshing for me as a gulf breeze. I hope you find it just as refreshing.