Anna Morrow Hardy (pictured) can check another item off her bucket list, she published a novel. Wildflower Girls is the first novel by Mullen Dale, Hardy’s nom de plum. Hardy, a native of Pike Road, lives in South Alabama now, but came back home to visit and debut her new work.
Hardy works as a school teacher and began her writing on breaks.
“Writing a novel is something I always wanted to do. As my daughter got old enough that she didn’t need me minute to minute. As time opened up I decided to go with it,” Hardy said.
It helped, she said, to write inside a genre that she reads for pleasure.
“I teach English and Literature, that stuff gets pretty heavy sometimes. Though I really appreciate those works for what they are when I am done with that; I like to read a good murder mystery,” she said.
Dale’s mystery in Wildflower Girls follows Chrysanthemum Lincoln. She gets life-changing news over the phone that leads her on a journey involving alternate identities, deceptions and other mysteries. Chrysanthemum’s connection to her group of friends that called themselves the Wildlfower Girls is what keeps her going throughout the story.
As far as character names Hardy says the names of the characters were a way for her to explore her characters. Chrysanthemum’s name reflects her botanical counterpart’s characteristics.
“Chrysanthemums are strong and they are solid. They are a flower, so they are fragile, but as flowers go they are also strong. It’s my favorite flower. You can but it in water and it lasts forever. You can buy them cheap, just like carnations in the grocery store and they last for the longest time in the vase. I mean roses are gone in a week, but Chrysanthemums will last for two weeks and change.
I had this vision of a lot of little girls being friends from the begining helping each other through a very difficult situation,” Hardy says.
This theme of reliance on close friends is echoed in Hardy’s own life.Moving away from home for the first time brought into sharp relief how lonely it can feel in a new place and knowing virtually no one.
“I moved from Pike Road down to South Alabama. When I first moved down there I didn’t have a group. I was very lonesome and very much felt lost. When I started teaching you don’t really have a choice but to have a group at that point. You get very close and you know people are there for one another. My friends and I have taught together for 10-15 years. I didn’t realize that it was unusual for people to have that many close friends, people that they could truly count on. I have to have that,” Hardy said.
More than once Hardy winks at the idea of mental instability in a humorous, friendly way. Like most writers, and for that matter most people, Hardy, when asked to describe herself, sounds dichotomous.
“I am shy but also very social in the sense that I need to have a group of friends I trust,” Hardy said. “This stuff,” she gestures to the reporter and PR setup next to her, “petrifies me. But then I realize this is part of the job and I put my face on and here we are. In fact even writing a book and telling people about it seems weird,” She chuckled.
She says she has been writing dialogue in herhead for so long that there were moments when she actually questioned her sanity. Maybe she was not creating dialogue but hearing voices.
“I run scenes in my mind sometimes until the wee hours of the morning, sometimes making myself laugh. Sometimes making myself cry. So I admit, I’m a little crazy,” Hardy said.
Hardy held a reading and book signing at The Pike Road Butcher Block, 9559 Vaughn Road, last Sunday.
For more information or to purchase a copy of the book visit www.satinromance.com or amazon.com. Paperback and Kindle versions are available.