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Sarah McCoy and Marilla of Green Gables

We’re thrilled to help celebrate the release of Sarah McCoy’s latest novel, releasing this coming Tuesday, October 23rd: MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES! Sarah isn’t just a beloved WU contributor, she is a New York Times bestselling novelist. More from her bio:

SARAH McCOY is the New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author of Marilla of Green Gables; The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee; the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico.

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, Read It Forward, Writer Unboxed, and other publications. She has taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. .

Connect with Sarah on Twitter, Instagram, her Facebook Fan Page, and Goodreads. And learn more about MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES on Sarah’s website, by viewing her book trailer HERE, and by reading the T5 interview with her below.

Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?

SM: A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

SM: Marilla Cuthbert. That’s the woman I’d like readers to finally know from reading this book.

Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

SM: As the author, I didn’t set any challenges before Marilla. She came with her own collection, given to her by Lucy Maud Montgomery, creator of the fictional Avonlea world. I simply flushed them out on the page so we could understand what made this enigmatic heroine tick.

Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

SM: This novel is unusual in that we already know the ending. Lucy Maud Montgomery provided us with the Cuthberts’ finale in glorious dénouement. So we’re working backwards in the storytelling loop, connecting the journey’s end to the start. Imagine it like an infinity symbol, weaving around and through time and place, real and fictional, season upon season. It was a challenge but not all challenges are negative. I found this storytelling challenge quite enlivening!

Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

SM: Meeting Marilla Cuthbert on her own, before Anne Shirley. I’ve always felt that Marilla had a shining light, but it was hidden under a bushel of disappointment, age, regrets, and misunderstandings. Never mind that it’s very hard to see an old match flame when it’s held next to a youthful sparkler like Anne. Discovering Lucy Maud Montgomery’s fictional world anew through Marilla’s eyes was deeply rewarding.

Also, spending October 2017 on Prince Edward Island meeting Montgomery’s relations. Those are memories I will treasure until my last breath.

Readers, enjoy a preview of MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES below!

About

Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in January, 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~40 regular contributors–including bestselling authors and industry leaders–and frequent guests. You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, or join our thriving Facebook community.


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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.