Q&A with Kerstin March
What is your connection to the Bayfield, Wisconsin, setting of FAMILY TREES?
Years before I was born, my mother’s family discovered the beauty of Bayfield, Wis., and Madeline Island across the bay on Lake Superior. My grandparents decided to join some of their family members and St. Paul friends by purchasing a summer home on the island, and they visited regularly. It became a home away from home.
My mother eventually married a New Yorker who loved sailing and he, too, fell in love with the Apostle Islands. I have been spending long weekends and vacations there all of my life. I learned how to sail on the lake, have endured more cold water swims than I can count, came to appreciate smoked trout and whitefish, and spent hours with my brother and cousins searching for sea glass on the beach. As luck would have it, I also married a man who loves Lake Superior. Today, four generations on my mother’s side gather there regularly, throughout the year. It is wonderful to see the next generation enjoying the lake as much as we do.
What was the inspiration for this novel?
When I was a college student, a well-known celebrity visited Bayfield and went on a kayaking trip with some friends. A framed news clipping from his visit still hangs on the wall of one of the town’s historic inns. At the time, when I heard about his visit, I wondered what would have happened if someone like him ever met and fell in love with someone from a small town like Bayfield. I imagined their lives would have been dramatically different. Would it ever work? That seed of an idea has been in the back of my mind ever since. Many years later, I finally sat down to write the story.
Did you draw from your own family experiences while creating the scenes and characters in this story?
Absolutely! At times, it was intentional. I drew upon my own experiences when describing setting or the emotions I’ve felt when doing something on the lake –- such as the adrenaline rush of sailing in high winds, the tranquility of sitting on a high rock that overlooks the water, or my fear of falling through the ice.
Other times, it was unintentional. Once the manuscript’s draft was finished and I was working on edits, I began to notice little things that reminded me of myself or my family –- for instance, my mother’s interests in Bayfield’s history, noticing a hint of my husband’s sense of humor within a dialogue exchange, or my father’s respect for the lake. I also began to see how certain aspects of my personality and experiences were reflected in several characters, both men and women. I found those discoveries to be fascinating.
What can you share about the sequel to FAMILY TREES?
After boy meets girl, life doesn’t always end in a fairy tale. This is a story about love and heartbreak, broken branches on a family tree, and ultimately, the power of hope and returning to one’s roots.
BRANCHING OUT begins approximately two years after the conclusion to FAMILY TREES. While the first book took place primarily in Shelby Meyers’ home town of Bayfield, Wis., most of the second novel will take place in Ryan Chamber’ world –- Chicago, Ill. The novel will continue to explore the obligations and relationships within the Meyers and Chambers families. As the characters' lives move forward, they will experience absolute joy, as well as devastation that will bring them to their knees. These moments will either bind them closer together, or make them question the strength of their relationship. It will be a story of trust, love, and rebuilding. For Ryan and Shelby. A town. A farm. And a family.
In this moving and insightful debut novel set along the breathtaking shores of the Great Lakes, a young woman must decide which dreams are worth fighting for, and which roots to keep firmly in place…
Sensible and self-reliant, Shelby Meyers knows exactly what she wants. She'll never again depend on her errant mother, Jackie, who abandoned Shelby when she was a baby—and is forever searching for an elusive, glittering life. All Shelby needs is her beautiful, windswept Lake Superior, her loving grandparents, and the treasured-but-struggling family apple orchard she helps run—until a new love, Ryan Chambers, opens her heart to chance, and her eyes to a wider world than she ever imagined.
But just as Shelby is looking toward an exciting future, Jackie unexpectedly returns—determined to make up for the past and “help” her daughter get everything she never could. Her confidence shaken, Shelby finds herself at odds with Ryan, and with his wealthy family's overbearing expectations. Now, through wrenching change and sudden loss, Shelby must find a way to see herself, and her mother, in a new light, forge an all-too-fragile understanding—and risk the kind of freedom that brings its own unexpected, enduring rewards…
“Kerstin March writes a captivating story of love, heartbreak and triumph.” --Laura Sobiech author of Fly a Little Higher
“A charming, romantic story of life after loss, filled with lush descriptions of Lake Superior's magical beauty.” –Kristina Riggle, author of the Whole Golden World
“A sweet, heartening story, Family Trees explores love, loyalty, and the growing pains inherent in building a life for oneself.” --Lindsey Palmer, author of If We Lived Here