A former teacher, coach and school counselor, Marilee lives in Washington State and writes full time. Her books include Castle Ladyslipper, a medieval romance, The Rock and Roll Queen of Bedlam, winner of the 2010 Booksellers Best award for romantic suspense, Moonstone, Moon Rise, Moon Spun, Shadow Moon, and Midnight Moon. Marilee is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
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Keeping it Real
One of my greatest challenges as a writer of a fantasy series was how to portray my protagonist, Allie Emerson, as a typical teenage girl who is accidentally thrust into a strange, new world without a roadmap. In the first book, Moonstone, she receives a magic moonstone. Although its functions are a mystery to her, she finds she’s able to perform telekinesis and, if the circumstances are right, hear people’s thoughts. In subsequent books, her powers grow and expand. But, bottom line, Allie is still just an adolescent girl, attempting to deal with typical adolescent problems like homework, her dysfunctional mother and boyfriends.
In order to emphasize the contrast between the normal and the paranormal, I chose to begin each book by firmly grounding Allie in the tiny town of Peacock Flats, Washington. Peacock Flats is a very real place although I’ve changed the name. I drove by it every day on my way to work as a counselor in an alternative school located on the Yakima Indian reservation. It has a post office, a diner and a hardware store, all of which are surrounded by acres and acres of apple orchards, fruit warehouses along with an occasional cow pasture. Tractors chug slowly along dirt roads. Allie describes it as “fruit intensive.”
In Moonstone, the story begins with Allie falling off a ladder face first into a cow pie. Moon Rise finds Allie, dressed as a gypsy, at the annual Halloween party in the gymnasium of her high school. She bends over to pick up a quarter and ouch, she becomes the next victim of a “serial ass pincher.” Moon Spun begins with Allie dressing for her appearance as Fruit Bowl queen, only to find she’s neglected to do laundry. Her only option is to borrow a pair of her mother’s too small panties, an act that results in disaster. Think: Allie riding on the Fruit Bowl float. Big puffy skirt. Windstorm. In Shadow Moon, Allie is at the winter formal with her former archenemy, the newly reformed Cory Philpott. The last book, Midnight Moon, finds Allie once again at school, decorating the gym for graduation along with her misfit lunch buddies. A bit of magic ensues.
In telling Allie’s story, I’ve drawn on many experiences from my former life as a teacher, coach and school counselor. I hope my effort to depict Allie as a typical teenage girl faced with unusual challenges resonates with readers. Even though I’ve completed the series, Allie Emerson remains real to me and will always live in my heart as one of my favorite characters.
Allie Emerson is hoping for a few quiet months to catch her breath after a summer that included the discovery she is not only a twin and of faery blood, but also destined to play a pivotal role in the faery world. School has barely begun when Allie must kiss her hope of a normal year goodbye.
She can’t escape her unfinished business with the fae, the Trimarks, or Junior Martinez whois making it clear he plans to win her back. Signs, portents and whispers are pushing Allie to “find the girl” before it’s too late. Hoping her twin can help her solve the riddle of their destiny, Allie uncovers old secrets and begins a cross-country journey that puts her in more danger than ever before. If she succeeds, she may just find the answers that can save everyone she loves.
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