Please help me welcome debut author, Julie Carrick Dalton, here to discuss her novel, Waiting for the Night Song.

Author Name: Julie Carrick Dalton

Book Title: Waiting for the Night Song

Book Genre: Book Club, Women’s Fiction, Suspense

Release Date: Jan 12, 2021

Publisher: Tor/Forge, Macmillan

Please tell us a bit about Waiting for the Night Song.

When two estranged friends return home to face the traumatic childhood secret that tore them apart, they must confront a hometown altered by a changing climate and truths about themselves they don’t want to see. Waiting for the Night Song is a portrait of friendship, secrets, and betrayal, a love song to the natural world, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.

What sparked the idea for the book? 

When my four kids were younger, I used to take them canoeing and we would pick blueberries from wide swaths of open shoreline. As the kids got older they started asking whose land it was and if we were stealing the berries. The truth was, I had no idea who owned the land. There were no houses nearby, and I didn’t think anyone would mind some children taking a few handfuls of berries from a canoe. But my kids pressed me on it and I found myself inventing excuses to justify why it was okay to take the berries. At some point, I realized I was leaning on conveniently manufactured rules to justify my actions. Taking a few handfuls of blueberries was a benign action. No one else would have picked those berries. No one would have miss them. But was I teaching my kids it was okay to rely on manufactured rules to justify behavior that was not justifiable, even if it seemed benign? Those excuses I invented became the basis for The Poachers’ Code, a code of ethics the characters in my book create to shield themselves from their own questionable actions. I pushed my characters to an extreme limit and forced them to tackle the ethical questions I wrestled with while picking berries with my kids – but with life-and-death stakes.

For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?

I often struggle to get ‘in the zone’ with my writing. I’m not one of those disciplined writers who keeps a schedule or commits to writing every day at a certain time. I’m either 100% on. Or 100% off. When I’m engaged with a writing project, it’s all I do, all I think about. It doesn’t matter where I write or what time of day it is. And when I am sitting at my computer, fully engaged, the writing usually comes pretty easily. For me, the hard part is making the switch from being ‘off’ to be being ‘on’ again. I can go weeks without being able to write anything. I stress about it, worry about. I’ve found the best way to reengage with my writing when I’ve been away from it is to reread my work and allow myself time to slowly reenter the world of my book.

What do you love most about it?

I love the feeling of being immersed in my writing. It’s empowering and invigorating. But it’s really hard on me when I’m on the outside, trying to claw my way back into the writing zone. It can be a battle, but it’s always worth it when I find my way back in. I feel so good, so content and satisfied, when I work out a scene that feels just right. I guess if it was easy, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much. I also find a tremendous amount of joy in the company and community I’ve discovered among other writers. 

If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Waiting for the Night Song?

If you enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing, I think you’ll like Waiting for the Night Song. My book features a protagonist who feels a strong connection to the natural world and is invested in helping other people understand ad protect it. But, like Crawdads, my book is primarily about human relationships — about love, friendship, and hope. There are plenty of topics for book clubs to unpack, as my characters make questionable ethical choices and have to live with their decisions, for better or worse. Waiting for the Night Song tackles climate change, but it isn’t a disaster story. It’s about the slow, quiet ways our world is already changing and how those subtle changes affect individuals, communities, and the world at large.

How does your day job inform your novel writing?

I own a small farm where I grow all sorts of vegetables and fruits. I’m not a particularly good farmer, but I’m learning. I’ve been at it for about eight years now and I just completed a New Entry Sustainable Agriculture program through Tufts University. I have a particular interest in learning more about how to build and maintain healthy, organic soil. Working on my farm had a big impact on my novel Waiting for the Night Song. I notice invasive insects and plants, as well as species that are no longer thriving here. When I started observing how the climate crisis is already having an impact on my small corner of the world, it made me want to write about the quiet, slow-burning changes going on around us. Waiting for the Night Song is not an apocalyptic or dystopian climate novel. It’s a contemporary story about two friends trying to come to terms with a painful secret from their past. But it’s also about a small town forced to confront their changing ecology. It’s about the ways we are all connected to our past, to each other, and to the environment— often in ways we may never recognize.

What are your interests outside of writing and reading?

I love to ski, hike, garden, and kayak. I also enjoy experimenting with vegan cooking. I’m a vegetarian, but recently I’ve been exploring a wider variety of plant-based ingredients and I love the results! (Well, most of the results.)

Are you working on a new project?

I’m finishing up my second novel, The Last Beekeeper, coming out in 2022, which also hinges on climate change. I used to keep honeybees, but they died due to Colony Collapse Disorder, which is killing off so many of our precious bees. I’m fascinated by bees, how they live in community, how they communicate, the geometry of the honeycombs. I can sit and watch them for hours. The Last Beekeeper is set in a near-future US after an unexpected event hastens the collapse of the pollinator population, sending the world into agricultural crisis. The story focuses on a young woman trying to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father, famed for having been the world’s last beekeeper before the collapse. It’s a story about family, forgiveness, and finding hope where there shouldn’t be any.

Where can readers find you?

You can learn more about me and my books at juliecarrickdalton.com, and you can follow me on Twitter @juliecardalt, on Instagram @juliecdalton, and on Facebook as Julie Carrick Dalton – Author. I’m also a regular contributor to The Writer Unboxed. You can find my articles about books, craft, and the writer’s life here: https://writerunboxed.com/author/juliecarrickdalton/

I’d love to invite all your readers to a book launch event via Belmont Books on Jan 28:

https://www.belmontbooks.com/event/virtual-julie-carrick-dalton-conversation-andrew-krivak

Thank you, Julie! Waiting for the Night Song is out TODAY.

A startling and timely debut, Julie Carrick Dalton’s Waiting for the Night Song is a moving, brilliant novel about friendships forged in childhood magic and ruptured by the high price of secrets that leave you forever changed.

Cadie Kessler has spent decades trying to cover up one truth. One moment. But deep down, didn’t she always know her secret would surface?

An urgent message from her long-estranged best friend Daniela Garcia brings Cadie, now a forestry researcher, back to her childhood home. There, Cadie and Daniela are forced to face a dark secret that ended both their idyllic childhood bond and the magical summer that takes up more space in Cadie’s memory then all her other years combined.

Now grown up, bound by long-held oaths, and faced with truths she does not wish to see, Cadie must decide what she is willing to sacrifice to protect the people and the forest she loves, as drought, foreclosures, and wildfire spark tensions between displaced migrant farm workers and locals.

Waiting for the Night Song is a love song to the natural beauty around us, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.