Literary First Love – Michael Morris

Today’s post by author, Michael Morris | @MichaelMorrisBK

“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call. “

Twenty-three years after stumbling across The Prince of Tides at the library in my hometown of Perry, Florida, I can still recite the opening lines by heart. It is a novel that I love to revisit.

My mom and I fled an abusive household and took refuge with my grandparents. While my mom went back to school to learn a trade to support us, my grandparents went to work on me. They gave me unconditional love, a sense of where I come from and a love of storytelling.

I did not grow up in a family of readers. The Prince of Tides is one of the first novels I read that was not mandatory for school. The suffering of the characters and their secrets of abuse spoke to me, as did the coastal landscape which becomes a character itself in the novel. For me, the heart of the novel is the complexity of the human experience and the hope for redemption. Tom Wingo begins a journey to New York, believing that he will help his sister who has attempted suicide. He ends up freeing the demons of his own past.

Like many writers I had a high school English teacher who encouraged me to write. It was the first time I’d been told I could do anything well related to academics. So I decided that I would major in public relations and write press releases and video scripts — believing that writers lived in New York or Paris or if they were from the South they were eccentric alcoholics who lived in run down mansions. That really was my world view. Pat Conroy helped to change all of that.

The Prince of Tides presented real characters in a time and place I knew well. While I’m not from South Carolina, I am from the Panhandle of Florida and the beautiful scenes of marsh, shrimp boats and the rhythm of coastal tides were my world. So too were the hurts and hopes of the people in his novel. Reading it for that very first time, I felt that I had finally found art that was accessible.

It would take me another ten years until I started writing my own stories — stories inspired by ones I heard as a child in my grandparent’s living room.   But The Prince of Tides first introduced me the power of connecting emotions to beautiful writing, mystical settings and unforgettable characters.

Michael’s latest novel is MAN IN THE BLUE MOON and we’re giving away two copies today! Just leave a comment on this post if you’d like to be entered in the drawing.

“He’s a gambler at best, a con artist at worst, ” her aunt had said of the handlebar-mustached man who snatched Ella Wallace away from her dreams of studying art in France. Eighteen years later, that man has disappeared, leaving Ella alone and struggling to support her three sons.

While the world is embroiled in World War I, Ella fights her own personal battle to keep the mystical Florida land that has been in her family for generations from the hands of an unscrupulous banker. When a mysterious man arrives at Ella’s door in an unconventional way, he convinces her that he can help her avoid foreclosure, and a tenuous trust begins.

But as the fight for Ella’s land intensifies, it becomes evident that things are not as they appear. Hypocrisy and murder soon shake the coastal town of Apalachicola and jeopardize Ella’s family.

Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides, has this to say about Man in the Blue Moon: “Michael Morris has been one of my favorite Southern writers. His new novel is reason for great celebration–a beautifully wrought portrayal of small-town Southern life. Buy it. Read it.”

Michael Morris is a Southern Book Circle Award finalist and the author of the acclaimed novels A Place Called Wiregrass (a Christy Award winner) and Slow Way Home, named one of the best novels of the year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A Florida native, he now lives with his wife in Alabama.

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

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46 Responses to Literary First Love – Michael Morris

  1. Annee September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am a new subscriber of She Reads…would love to win a book!!

  2. Jayne D. September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Man in the Blue Moon sounds like a wonderful story and I would love to read it. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy.

  3. Heather Marsten September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Michael, I am so glad you found unconditional love from your grandparents. I’m also glad your mom was brave enough to help you escape from an abusive situation. My mom enabled my father to abuse me and never chose to escape. She had me believing there was no hope, we just had to stay and suffer. I also lived in books as an escape. I always loved the books I read that were not assigned for classes. Having a book assigned for class was the kiss of death for enjoyment. I look forward to your book and am placing it in my book wish list.
    HM at HVC dot RR dot COM

    Have a blessed day.

  4. Gean September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like a good book – it’s on my list.

  5. Melinda K Taylor September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I can identify with Micheal. I escaped an abusive marriage of many years. I started writing as a path to my healing. I could say with writing what I could not say with my mouth. I wrote poetry, stories about the abuse and the affects it had on me and my children. I would really like to win this book. Thank you Mr Morris.

  6. MariAnne September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Love to read your book ideas – would love to read this newest suggestion!

  7. Tahma Nash September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    The tidal pull of Conroy’s words has swept away many a reader, myself included, and held before us a way of writing, both lush and raw, that entreats the would-be-writer to become a storyteller. If Michael Morris has risen to the challenge, hooray! I would love to win his novel.

  8. Katherine Jones September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    “…things are not as they appear.” Love stories that dive deep. This book’s at the top of my list.

  9. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Welcome, Annee! We’re so glad you’re here!

  10. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    That’s such a hard story, Heather. But I can relate in many ways. I am always amazed how a good story provides peace and comfort and hope. Thanks for stopping by today!

  11. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I’m sitting here, reading all this love for Pat Conroy (my She Reads co-founder, Marybeth, also adores Conroy) wondering if I’ll be excommunicated from the reading world at large if I admit that I have never read anything by Pat Conroy? Clearly I need to remedy that. And I’m assuming I should start with The Prince of Tides.

  12. Linda Anderson September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Ariel, I just read Prince Of Tides this year. Because I kept hearing about it in different places. I don’t know why it took me so long. Micheal’s book The Man In The Blue Moon sounds like a good read. I am looking forward to reading it.

  13. Myra September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I loved Prince of Tides! I would love to read The Man in the Blue Moon. Thanks!

  14. Janet Estridge September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I love to read Michael Morris books. We have them in the church library.
    My husband has family who still live in the Apalachicola area.

  15. McKenna September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to win a new book!

  16. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks, Linda! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who found Conroy late!

  17. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Myra, I keep looking at the cover of his novel, wondering what it must feel like to have your literary hero endorse your book. That must have put Michael over the moon. Pun intended. :-)

  18. Ariel September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Yay, Janet! I’m so glad you’re already a fan. But I have to ask, how on earth does one pronounce “Apalachicola?” :-)

  19. carol September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I am new to this site, but love it. Hope I win !!!!

  20. Rachel Langston September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I have read a couple of reviews of this book and can’t wait to read it!

  21. Tammi T. September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Sounds like I have anothet wonderful book to add to my list of books to read!

  22. Sara Grambusch September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Wow, what an interesting you have and the book also sounds compelling. I’m trying hard to read more male authors so I’m glad I heard about this one!

  23. Carl September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Pat Conroy is one of our favorite writers of all time. If he endorses Michael Morris we’re excited to think we may have found another. Thank you for offering this new book to all of us.

  24. Susan Coster September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    The Price of Tides is one of my all time favorite Southern fiction movies and beautifully portrayed by Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand in the movie version. I think that’s what got me started reading Southern fiction ~ totally sublime.

  25. karenk September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    would love to read this novel…thanks for the chance

  26. Paula Dolin September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I also have never read The Prince of Tides – I’ll definately have to check it out. Michael’s book sounds great – I love Southern fiction too! Thanks for all the great recommendations She Reads!

  27. Evelyn September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I apprecaite Michael’s honesty in telling us a little bit about his story. Would love to win a copy of his book.

  28. Linda McFarland September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Love to win…the book sounds wonderful

  29. JoAnne September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Man In The Blue Moon sounds like a great story! I, too, have come from the background of abuse. So glad Michael had his grand parents to help. Those of us who weren’t quite as lucky are still working things out. In each life episode, I see how those experiences shade every aspect of my life. Would be great to get this book to read as another step on that road! Prince of Tides opened doors for me, perhaps this will also.

  30. Susan G. September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for the opportunity to win Michael’s new book. It sounds like a very good read! I usually only read women authors – I know, I know…so I am interested in seeing if I can ‘detect’ any ‘differences’ as I read “Man in the Blue Moon”. ;)
    Thanks also for this great website!
    Susan G.

  31. Debbie Morgan September 10, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to win a copy of this book. It sounds good!

  32. Pat September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Loved Prince of Tides. The characters were great & it has some of the funniest scenes. Look forward to reading Michael Morris. Thanks for the introduction.

  33. Mae September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    A PLACE CALLED WIREGRASS is one of my favorite books. I have read it three times. I am looking forward to reading THE MAN IN THE BLUE MOON.

  34. Cynthia Robertson September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    Michael’s publicist already has a copy in the mail to me, so I don’t need to be entered in the drawing. But this post has whetted my appetite to read this book I have been hearing such great things about, and I am looking forward to curling up with this story. (I loved Prince of Tides too, Michael — Pat Conroy is wonderful! Here’s a link to a post I did about him awhile back. http://cynthiarobertson.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/going-deeper/ )
    Lovely post, and I can’t wait to read Man in the Blue Moon.

  35. Charity September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I would like to be entered into the drawing. I love books – especially good ones!

  36. Sandy Yoder September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I love, love, love reading and would be pleased to enter this drawing for a book.

  37. Sandy Yoder September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I would love to read this book!

  38. Virginia Winfield September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This book sounds very good. Would love a chance to win.

  39. Kathy September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    “The Man in the Blue Moon” sounds like a great read, especially when Pat Conroy recommends the book. I totally identify with the South and suspect that the small town will bring back memories of my past.

  40. janet h. September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    I too, love this book and still plan to one day visit Beaufort SC! Pat Conroy so vividly describes the locations in his books and I fell in love with Beaufort through this book!! I think I may put it on my reading pile, in this case, my re-read pile!!

  41. Veronica September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds great!

  42. bELLE September 11, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to try this author. His story is one I can understand.

  43. lana September 11, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Nothing finer than rhe emotions of a good southern novel!

  44. Natalie J Vandenberghe September 13, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    I’d love to win this book for my daughter–thanks!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Michael Morris — Man In The Blue Moon » Kimberly Brock Books - September 12, 2012

    […] Michael is featured here by national online book club She Reads, my sister site. […]

  2. Fernandina’s Favorite 500 Books | Amelia Island Book Festival - January 18, 2013

    […] Michael Morris –  ”The Prince of Tides  is one of the first novels I read that was not mandatory for school. The suffering of the characters and their secrets of abuse spoke to me, as did the coastal landscape which becomes a character itself in the novel. For me, the heart of the novel is the complexity of the human experience and the hope for redemption.” Read more… […]

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