Deb Caletti, author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart is here to discuss why she writes stories that take place during the summer!
Why I Write About Summer:
I think we all have a season that’s ours. Not just our favorite time of the year, but the one that makes us feel most like ourselves. Some people feel right at home in the bundled-up, indoor-ness of winter. Some settle into the crispy beginnings-and-endings time of fall. But I am me in summer.
Let’s get the obvious reasons out of the way – the weather, of course. Here in Seattle, summer is perfect – nice and warm, but not too hot. The waters of the lakes and of Puget Sound sparkle and fill with boats. I love that so much – the sparkle and the water and the boats. And then, there’s beach sand on bare feet, there’s swimming, there’s the fact that summer clothes are the easiest – slip on a sun dress and a pair of sandals and you’re good to go. Wait – popsicles (Otter Pops! The orange ones!), watermelon, hot dogs with Fritos on the side… That time of night when the air finally cools; sleeping with the window open. Driving with the windows rolled down. The smells of cut grass and ripening berries… Ahh.
But there’s the less obvious stuff, too. The way that summer will, for me, always – even now – be associated with vacation. Vacation from school, especially. Walking out of the doors of my high school for those three joyful months meant that all of the expectations of who I was and how I should be dropped away, and all that was left was this lovely, spacious sense of freedom. I still feel that, right at the beginning of June. I feel so hopeful in summer. Like anything could happen. I wrote about this feeling in Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, and it’s one of the most often quoted passages of all my books:
“Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. For those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. You can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. Summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
Freedom is always the best feeling, but barefooted, beachy, cotton-dress freedom? Bliss.
I could go on. I do go on, in just about every book I write. Nearly every one (except Wild Roses, a distinctly winter book) is set in summer. A book takes me about nine months to write, and a good three more months to edit. I usually begin a new one when September comes, right when school starts. I usually finish up right when school ends, and summer begins. Do you see the game plan, here? In those nine months of dreary Seattle rain, in those months of bulky sweaters and furnace heat and soup, I get summer. I set my hands on the keys and I’m there. I get to spend those writing months where I most love – on a beach, maybe; or sitting on the banks of a lake, with a book nearby, head tipped up to the sky. Walking in flip-flops on sun-warmed sidewalks.
That’s the beauty of writing, and the beauty of reading, too. We are transported. We are anywhere we want to be.
The rain rolls down the windows. Wind blows leaves to the ground. I hunt for the matching sock. But then my fingers fly, and the top of the convertible is down, and I am driving in bare feet. My shoulders are getting ever so slightly sunburnt. An icy-cold can of 7-Up rides in the passenger seat. I smell the salt water of the ocean. I smile.