It is with great pleasure and excitement that I am featuring author Erica George with her debut YA nove, WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY. I had the honor of reading an arc of this amazing story and I am sharing my review here:
A sweet and thoughtful YA story where past and present converge, and poetry bridges the gap.
Narrated by two teenage girls – Leta from 1862, and Michaela from present day – who use their passion for poetry to discover greater truths around them.
Set on the shore of Cape Cod, this is a story that celebrates love. Love of family, love of the sea, love of poetry and the emotional connection it creates, the love one person has for another. A teen romance that is so much more, this book is highly recommended to anyone who has a passion for a time, feels connection to a place or era of history. The author takes us on a journey we will not soon forget.
Erica was kind enough to answer some questions about how this story came to be.
How did the story come about? What was your inspiration?
Believe it or not, this story technically began back when I was in eighth grade. Every year, my family and I would go and see a production of A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey, and on the ride home that night, I was thinking about change—who was capable of change, and who wasn’t, and why. That’s when the character of Benjamin Churchill appeared. When I got home, I climbed into bed and took out my journal, and began outlining who I thought he would be. He’s stayed with me for over twenty years. The rest of the story came about only a few years ago, and I couldn’t get the idea of two timelines converging out of my head. I love thinking about how the past can hold us back and push us forward all at the same time.
What was it like writing from two POV’s in two different time periods? How did you handle each story line while you wrote?
I’ve always loved writing both historical and contemporary characters. With Mack living in the present day and Leta living in the 1860s, the time periods helped influenced their voice, certainly, especially when I was writing their poetry. I allowed Mack to write more modern sounding poetry, while Leta’s was heavily influenced by Emily Dickinson’s work. But truthfully, the two girls had so much in common despite the almost 200 years between them, and that’s what drove the story.
The poetry adds a layer of richness and depth to this unique love story. Did you decide on using poetry from the beginning?
Honestly, I knew I wanted to write about poetry, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to write my own! I don’t at all consider myself a poet, and writing the poems was daunting to say the least. I had help from my advisor at Vermont College of Fine Arts, the talented and generous Liz Garton Scanlon. The poetry was eye-opening in exploring the characters. It helped me dive into their inner lives, and their wounds, their insecurities, and their triumphs.
The setting almost feels like a character in the book. What factors determined your setting for this story?
I’m so glad to hear this! Cape Cod is my heart. It’s the place where I feel most at home. I’ve spent all of my summers there since childhood, and my family has a house there, as well. And it’s the perfect place for 19th century poetry and whaling to meet! It’s a place that really lends itself to art—the ocean and the cliffs are so dramatic and timeless. Not to mention it has such a rich history of whaling, and now, for conservation and stewardship.
Erika will give away a signed copy of this amazing book to one lucky reader drawn at random from those who leave a comment below. It’s a wonderful opportunity to own a very special book by a gifted writer.
Here’s the pre-order link as well: www.ericageorgewrites.com/preorder
Erica George is a writer of young adult fiction. She is a graduate of The College of New Jersey with degrees in both English and education, and is currently an MFA student at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She resides in scenic northern New Jersey, but spends her summers soaking up the salty sea air on Cape Cod.
Many themes in Erica’s writing rotate around environmental activism and helping young people find their voice. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring river towns, whale watching, or engrossed in quality British drama with her dog at her side. Erica is also a member of the Class of 2K21 Debut Group.