Julie Carrick Dalton returns to The Spotlight to chat about her latest book, The Last Beekeeper

Author Name: Julie Carrick Dalton

Book Title: The Last Beekeeper

Book Genre: Literary Suspense/Women’s Fiction/Dystopian

Release Date: March 7, 2023

Publisher: Tor/Forge, Macmillan

Welcome back, Julie! Please tells us about your latest novel.

The Last Beekeeper is a near-future story about the tenuous relationship between a beekeeper and his daughter as the world’s pollinator population collapses. It’s about found family, secrets, speaking truth to power, redemption, and hope in the face of crisis. For fans of Station Eleven and Migrations.

What inspired the idea for this book? 

Several years ago I lost tens of thousands of bees all in a single day, for reasons I wasn’t able to explain. They simply dropped dead. It was devastating. The following year it happened again. I’ve come to believe my hives were inadvertently poisoned by a neighbor’s lawn chemicals. I was furious and sad but the poisonings made me wonder what impact our chemical addiction is having not just on honey bees, but on all pollinators. The more research I did, the more concerned I became. Those anxieties manifested themselves in the plot of The Last Beekeeper.

How has your real life (day job, hobbies, etc.) informed your books?

My experiences farming, managing a forest, and keeping bees, have made me sensitive to the quiet impacts of climate change. We are, sadly, growing accustomed to hearing about disastrous wildfires in the western US and hurricanes in Texas and Florida. All of my novels explore smaller, quieter impacts of our changing climate, such as the way a slow-burning rise in temperatures can change a community over decades, or how long-term over-use of agricultural chemicals affects our soil, our pollinators, and our food security.

What’s your favorite part about writing/being an author? What do you find challenging?

I guess I have three favorite things, in no particular order. First, one of my absolute favorite parts of being an author is the writing community. I found my people, the ones who think like I do, understand my fears and obsessions, and share my passions. Writing can be lonely and isolating, but because of the community of other writers I’ve discovered, I’ve never felt so supported. Second, I love the connections I’ve made with readers. It may seem like a small thing, but receiving a short note from a reader who loved my book can be the fuel that powers me through a tough day of drafting new material. Interacting with readers via in-person readings, Zoom events, or on Instagram and Facebook, never fails to leave me with an infusion of joy. And who doesn’t need more joy these days? And third, I just really love writing. Some days it’s a slog, it can be painful. But the payoff is so worth it! When I’m in the zone, it’s like watching a movie unfurl in my head. I can’t get the words out fast enough. It’s a fantastic feeling to be so in love with a story and its characters. I’m feeling that way right now about the new book I’m drafting. I can’t wait to finish it, mostly because I want to read this book! As for the most challenging part? It’s the exact opposite. I hate feeling outside of my writing. A writer friend recently described it as trying to jump between the jump ropes in double Dutch, which is a fantastic analogy. You have to wait, find the rhythm, and make the leap. Sometimes I feel stuck on the outside of the ropes, unable to find the rhythm and jump into a story. It’s a difficult feeling to work through.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on now?

I’m currently working on a new novel that focuses on three multigenerational women and their connections to a piece of recently deforested land. It explores our need for connection — both to nature and to each other — and what we lose, personally and collectively, when we lose a forest and the generational wisdom that inhabits it.

Where can readers find you?

I love hearing from readers! Please visit my website at juliecarrickdalton.com, or find me @juliecardalt on Twitter, @juliecdalton on IG, @juliecdalton@writing.exchange on Mastodon, and @juliecarrickdalton on FB.

Thank you, Julie! The Last Beekeeper is OUT NOW.

Julie Carrick Dalton’s The Last Beekeeper is a celebration of found family, an exploration of truth versus power, and the triumph of hope in the face of despair.

It’s been more than a decade since the world has come undone, and Sasha Severn has returned to her childhood home with one goal in mind—find the mythic research her father, the infamous Last Beekeeper, hid before he was incarcerated.

There, Sasha is confronted with a group of squatters who have claimed the quiet, idyllic farm as a way to escape the horrific conditions of state housing. While she feels threatened by their presence at first, the friends soon become her newfound family, offering what she hasn’t felt since her father was imprisoned: security and hope. Maybe it’s time to forget the family secrets buried on the farm and focus on her future.

But just as she settles into her new life, Sasha witnesses the impossible. She sees a honeybee, presumed extinct. People who claim to see bees are ridiculed and silenced for reasons Sasha doesn’t understand, but she can’t shake the feeling that this impossible bee is connected to her father’s missing research. Fighting to uncover the truth could shatter Sasha’s fragile security and threaten the lives of her new-found family—or it could save them all.

Sasha’s journey is a meditation on forgiveness and redemption and a reminder to cherish the beauty that still exists in this fragile world.

“Dalton’s passion and love for the natural world vibrates gloriously off every page. The Last Beekeeper is not only an intriguing mystery but an important reminder of what we stand to lose.” —Charlotte McConaghy, New York Times bestselling author of Once There Were Wolves

“Dalton’s second novel, The Last Beekeeper, buzzes with as much emotion and urgency as her debut, Waiting for the Night Song. It is so much more than a tale about bees: it’s a story about humanity, determination, and honoring the delicate world in which we all live.” Sarah Penner, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Apothecary

“Filled with meditations on the fragile beauty of nature and the power of hope and resilience, this heartfelt novel will keep readers turning the pages late into the night.” —Angie Kim, internationally bestselling author of Miracle Creek

“Dalton weaves an intricate story of friendships carefully made and tended when mere survival would seem to make such bonds impossible. The Last Beekeeper is ingeniously plotted, both clever and tender on every page. I couldn’t put it down.” —Rebecca Scherm, author of A House Between Earth and the Moon

Author Bio:

Julie Carrick Dalton is the Boston-based author of The Last Beekeeper and Waiting for the Night Song, which was named a Most Anticipated 2021 novel by CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, Parade, Buzzfeed, and others, and was an Amazon Best Book of the Month. She is an alum of Tin House, Bread Loaf, and GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator. Mom to four kids and two dogs, she is an avid skier, hiker, and kayaker. She also loves digging in the dirt, growing food, tending bees, and experimenting with new vegetarian recipes.