We’re so lucky to be a part of the Wild Swans blog tour today! We adore Jessica Spotswood and are incredibly excited to be able to share a bit about her inspiration for WILD SWANS, her upcoming new release!
But first – how about all the details about this amazing new story!Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Wild Swans
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Family, Multigenerational, Romance, Social Themes, Young Adult Fiction
The summer before Ivy’s senior year is going to be golden; all bonfires, barbeques, and spending time with her best friends. For once, she will just get to be. No summer classes, none of Granddad’s intense expectations to live up to the family name. For generations, the Milbourn women have lead extraordinary lives—and died young and tragically. Granddad calls it a legacy, but Ivy considers it a curse. Why else would her mother have run off and abandoned her as a child?
But when her mother unexpectedly returns home with two young daughters in tow, all of the stories Ivy wove to protect her heart start to unravel. The very people she once trusted now speak in lies. And all of Ivy’s ambition and determination cannot defend her against the secrets of the Milbourn past….
One of the first seeds of inspiration for WILD SWANS was planted when I read April Tucholke’s BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA. In that novel – which is one of my favorites – setting is vitally important. The Citizen Kane, the family’s crumbling mansion by the sea, functions almost as another character in the story. I love books where setting plays an important role, especially summery, beach–set books like Aimee Friedman’s SEA CHANGE, Leila Howland’s NANTUCKET BLUE, Sarah Ockler’s TWENTY BOY SUMMER, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s WHAT I THOUGHT WAS TRUE.
So, I set out to write a setting-heavy book of my own. I knew right away that the beach wouldn’t be the Atlantic or the Pacific, though; it would be something a bit closer to home. WILD SWANS is set on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Cecil, the beautiful, sometimes-stifling college town where Ivy and several generations of her family have been raised, is a mish-mash of two Maryland towns I love: Chestertown, the college town on the Chester River where I lived for four years while I attended Washington College; and St. Michaels, a small town on the Bay where I’ve vacationed half a dozen times.
WILD SWANS contrasts the summery, beachy setting – bonfire parties at the cove, first kisses down by the docks with sailboats bobbing against the shore, swimming in the Bay – with sometimes-suffocating small-town life. There’s an influx of college students, but there’s also a deeply rooted community in which many families, including Ivy’s, have lived there for generations. Everybody knows – and feels entitled to know – everybody else’s business.
Gossip in small towns is insidious. And Ivy’s family has historically been responsible for some of the most scandalous gossip: her great-grandmother’s affair and murder, her grandmother’s suicide, her mother running off and abandoning her when she was only two. People in town expect her to be brilliant, but selfish. Troubled. Wild. Everything she does is weighed against her family history and judged, whether it’s something a Milbourn girl would do or whether she’s deemed different from all the rest. She never has the freedom to just be herself, free of those expectations.
I grew up in a tiny, one-stoplight-small town in south-central PA. It was wonderful in a lot of ways. But there is something unique about that kind of small town, where people know your family and your history, where they can make assumptions based on your last name. I went to the same high school my parents and all of my uncles had attended, where my granddad had been a teacher and then a beloved, championship-winning football coach. When teachers called roll the first day of class, and called out, “Jessica Emanuel,” it was often followed by: “Is Coach Emanuel your granddad? Which one of the boys is your dad?” My dad and granddad and uncles were all enormously sporty, and while they all attended my plays and band concerts with good grace, I wonder sometimes what it would have been like had I been an artsy, bookworm boy. What would the expectations have been? What would it have been like not to meet them?
I hope that, with WILD SWANS, I’ve captured something of what it is to be an ambitious girl in a small town – the comfort and familiarity of it, but also the yearning to get out, to be more and do more, along with the question of whether it’s disloyal to even want that. I hope readers will relate to Ivy. I certainly do!
Thank you so much Jessica – we certainly can’t wait to add WILD SWANS to our bookshelves and revel in the setting you’ve created!
3 Finished Copies of WILD SWANS (US Only)