FINDING PALMETTO MOON IN THE ETHER
With Palmetto Moon, I wrote about Round O, South Carolina like I knew it like the back of my hand. I’d never been there before and had only driven through Walterboro, or stopped there to use the bathroom on the way to Edisto Island over thirty years ago. So, before I turned the Palmetto Moon manuscript into my editor, last summer, I decided I should visit to make sure I got the place right.
I was pleasantly surprised and then shocked at one of those ethereal moments. Dana and Bonita Cheney, the nice couple from the Colleton County Historical Society who showed me around Walterboro, offered to show me Round O. To be honest, with the majority of the story taking place there, and having never been there, I was more than a little nervous.
I’d sent Dana and Bonita a synopsis of Palmetto Moon, that mentioned Miss Mamie’s Boarding House. When we got to Round O, which really is a crossroads community (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a crossroads with a few houses, maybe a church, a little store,) Dana asked me if I’d like to see Miss Mamie’s Boarding House.
There on the corner was a dilapidated two story clapboard home that very well could have been Vada’s home in 1947. I was amazed. Then he asked me if I wanted to see what it looked like in 1947. He eased down the road about 100 feet and there was the EXACT house I’d pictured when I was writing the book. I know this picture is a little cockeyed but I was completely stunned.
A few weeks later, I approached Dick Elliott, the owner of Maverick Southern Kitchens, and nationally renown SNOB in Charleston about contributing recipes for the book. I wanted to use them in lieu of Reader Questions. Turns out the executive chef at SNOB’s name is Frank Lee and my hero’s name is Frank Darling. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m tagging it as a gift from the ether.
Thank you, Kim for stopping by today!
Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.
Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.
As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.
Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
For More Information
- Visit Kim Boykin’s website.
- Connect with Kim on Facebook and Twitter.
- Visit Holly’s blog.
- More books by Kim Boykin.
- Contact Kim.
June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.
In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.
For More Information
- Palmetto Moon is available at Amazon.
- Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble or IndieBound.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
- Read Chapter One here.
June 20, 1947
“Murrah?” Rosa Lee’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head at me like I’ve forgotten the rules, but I haven’t. Since before I was born, my parents forbade the servants to speak their native tongue in our house. Offenders were given one warning; a second offense brought immediate dismissal. I say the Gullah word again, drawing it out softly. “Why are you crying?” The hands that helped bring me into the world motion for me to lower my voice.
Rosa Lee’s husband, Desmond, told me my first word was murrah. It was what I called Rosa Lee, until Mother made me call her by name. “My own murrah.” The forbidden words bring more tears. I press my face into the soft curve of her neck and breathe in the Ivory soap Mother insists all the servants use, mingled with Rosa Lee’s own scent—vanilla and lemongrass.
She holds me at arm’s length, trembling, and I know I’ve done it again.
“You got to tell them,” she pleads. “Make them see you can’t go through with this.”
I point to the door that leads to the elegant dining room where my parents are eating their breakfast. “I have told them. Mother refuses to listen, and I’ve begged Father. He says I have to do this.” She looks away. Her body rocks, sobbing violently on the inside. “Rosa Lee, please don’t cry. I can’t bear it.” She shakes her head and swipes at the tears that stain the sleeve of her freshly pressed uniform. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”
“When you’re asleep, your heart takes over. You got no control, and it’s gonna kill you.”
She’s right. Since I graduated and moved home from college two weeks ago, I’ve been sleepwalking like I did when I was a child, but these outings don’t land me snuggled up in the servant’s quarters, between Desmond and Rosa Lee. Most of the time, I wake up and return to bed without incident, but last week Desmond found me trying to leave the house. He said I was babbling about sleeping in the bay, which might not have been so disturbing if I hadn’t been wearing five layers of heavy clothing. I knew what he thought I was trying to do to myself and told him not to worry.
Since then, Rosa Lee has insisted on sleeping on the stiff brocade chaise in my bedroom. Of course, my parents don’t know she’s there or that she’s so afraid I’ll walk to the bay or step off the balcony in my sleep, she’s tethered my ankle to the bedpost with three yards of satin rope she begged from Mrs. O’Doul.
“Maybe it will be different after the wedding.” I love her enough to lie to her. “Father says I’m a Hadley and once it’s over with, I’ll fall in line the way I was born to.”
“But what if Desmond hadn’t caught you?” She threads her fingers in mine and kisses the back of my hand. A part of me wishes her intuition hadn’t sent Desmond to check on me, that he hadn’t found me. “And what are you gonna do when we’re not there?”
“Don’t say that.” My knees buckle, and I melt into a puddle at her feet. Justin has made it clear he’s happy with his staff and has no plans to add “two ancient servants.” But living under his roof and not having Rosa Lee and Desmond with me is unthinkable, another high price of being the last Hadley descendant.
“You think it’s not going to get worse after you’re married? Who do you think’s gonna be there to save you? Mr. Justin?” She hisses the last word. “You think long and hard before the sun comes up tomorrow, because I’m afraid down to my bones that you won’t be alive to see it.”
She collects herself and heads into the dining room to check on my parents. They won’t look into her beautiful brown face and see she’s been crying any more than they see this wedding is killing me, or at least the idea of being yoked to Justin McLeod is. Not because he’s eight years older than me and, other than our station in life, we have nothing in common, and not because of his good qualities, although no one can find more than two: He is a heart-stoppingly beautiful man and the sole heir of the largest fortune in Charleston.
For over a hundred years, Justin’s family and mine have built ships. And while two world wars made us rich, a prolonged peace threatens to weaken our family fortunes considerably. Somewhere in all that, my father convinced Justin a Hadley-McLeod union would position them to take over the world, at least the shipping world. And Father is certain nothing short of a blood union will keep Justin in the partnership.
Rosa Lee pushes through the swinging door and pours the coffee down the drain, her signal that breakfast is over and my parents are no longer close by. I smile, trying to reassure her I’m okay, that I’m going to be okay. She shakes her head and starts to wash one of the breakfast plates in slow motion, barely breathing. I hate those things, and after tomorrow, I’ll own twenty-four place settings of them, part of my dowry. I don’t give a damn about thousand-dollar plates, but I do care for Rosa Lee.
“I can do this.” I say from behind her. My voice sounds sure, steady. “I will do this.”
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