You portrayed the military aspects of the book very accurately. Are you a Navy spouse?
A. No. Most of the knowledge I have is passively acquired from living in a Naval port for 23 years. My father was a Navy Officer early in his life, and I dated a few “Navy Men” when I was younger. And, of course, the character of Blaine is based on a Navy Pilot I met during the first Gulf War.
Q. Did you have an alternate ending to the story, or did you plan from the start for things to end as they did?
A. Early on, I struggled with two endings, but reverted back to the ending I eventually used, based on the characters “telling me” what they would do via their personalities and evolution throughout the book. In the end, it was the only feasible way for the story to conclude.
Q. I got angry with Ainsley for her initial response to Chris’ accident and her decision not to make a change in her life after what he did to her. Why did she stay in the relationship?
A. She made her choice in response to what she had experienced with John, and her unwillingness to remain passive in the face of another loss.
Q. I wondered if Chris knew, in the end, things he didn’t admit to knowing, about his family.
A. Without giving too much of the story away to those who haven’t read the book yet, I will say that he received a gift from Ainsley and Ruby, which they never disclosed to him.
Q. None of the book’s advertising or promotional material hints at Blaine’s profession. Some readers might find it shocking. Was that intentional?
A. Men Among Sirens is ultimately about a family, and real families face issues that cross the lines of social norms and acceptability. None of us is immune to human desire, weakness, call it what you will. That includes Blaine MacGearailt, Ainsley Bohan and the rest of us. The book doesn’t condone their actions but instead follows along with them on their journey to reconciliation. I don’t use Blaine’s vocation as a marketing point because I don’t want to overshadow the substance of the book with any kind of sensationalism, especially with what’s in the media right now.
Q. Are you from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?
A. Yes and no. I consider myself a semi-Yooper, because although I was not born there, my mother’s family is from the U.P., and my siblings and I spent two months of every summer—and some holidays—from gestation to our early twenties at my grandparents’ retirement home in a small town on Big Bay de Noc. I still travel there in the summer and winter with my family to get my annual “fix” of pasties, Trenary Toast, blueberries and the lake.
Q. Is Ainsley Bohan based on a real person? Is the book based on actual events?
A. All of the characters in Men Among Sirens are fictitious by definition, although aspects of each are pulled from people I’ve known throughout my life. I will say that many of the events in the book did occur, but not necessarily within my family or in any one geographical region. I interpret the adage “write about what you know” to mean “write from a place of personal perspective.” In the case of Men Among Sirens, that was more about the pathos and evolution of the characters than recording a chronology of factual events. Physically, Blaine was based on a Navy FA-18 fighter pilot I met in Virginia Beach in the early 1990’s who hailed from Houghton, Michigan, believe it or not. Ren Mercer was modeled after a close family friend from Michigan. And, I’m sure some locals from both Virginia and Michigan will recognize bits and pieces of friends and neighbors mixed into the other characters in the book. I will concede, however, that Attila is based directly on one of our family dogs, who died when I was 17. He was every bit as wonderful as Attila was written. His name was Mr. Chips.
Q. Does the Bohan’s Victorian house from the book really exist?
A. Yes, but not in Virginia. To protect the privacy of the current owners, that’s all I’ll say about that.
Q. Where is Makwa Point?
A. In my head! That’s another question I’ll leave to my readers to try to determine.
Q. The book cover is beautiful. What is the sculpture on the cover illustration?
A. It’s a public work of art in Copenhagen Harbor, The Little Mermaid by Edvard Erichsen based upon the Hans Christian Anderson story.
Q. Will there be a sequel to Men Among Sirens?
A. I intended the book as a single title, and I’m currently working on another book, but that question keeps coming up, so I may have to reconsider.