Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview: Donna Marie Seim, Author of Hurricane Mia

Donna Marie Seim, author of Hurricane Mia, was so kind as to answer some questions for The Elliott Review. 
 
Thanks for joining us, Donna!


Thanks so much for asking to interview me. HURRICANE MIA has been an incredible adventure from beginning concept to finished book!

Where did you get the inspiration for writing HURRICANE MIA? How did you decide on the Caribbean as a setting?

 I love to read books that sweep you up and carry you off to faraway places. The setting for HURRICANE MIA is taken from The Turks and Caicos Islands in the British West Indies. I have traveled to and explored this grouping of islands for many years and have fallen in love with its natural beauty, the richness of culture, and the people. That in itself was the inspiration for writing a story. 


I have collected many treasured memories including boat rides, where I kissed the ground when I got back on land! I have traveled to many of the 40 islands and Cays that make up these islands and have had the opportunity to visit with Bush Doctors and Grannies.  I have witnessed wild donkeys, iguanas and barracudas.

The kernel for the core of the story, 'the tea that cures everything,' came from an interest in bush medicine and a story I had heard about a tea that can help fight cancer. This story, combined with researching a Granny from the early 1900's who claimed none of her patients ever died, inspired me to write a story! I planned for the story to be a natural adventure mixed with an emotional one and to bring two different cultures together in the friendship that builds between Mia and Neisha.

In HURRICANE MIA, Mia meets an island girl, Neisha, her own age. What strengths do you think the girls bring to one another?

       Mia is a feisty tween, self absorbed, spoiled and yet still worried about her mother's health. Although, it is also true that her mother's health is what is denying Mia the summer she had planned with her best friend. Mia is angry, has an attitude, and in the past has clashed with her grandmother, resenting her rigid ways. But now it is culminated by the fact that Gram is thwarting her from what she wants to do most - obtain the tea so she can go home and make everything the way it was before.


Neisha, is a gentle loving daughter, not self absorbed like Mia, and totally dedicated to her mother. She is accepting of her role in life, with the one exception that she would like to go to high school, but at the same time she is fiercely loyal to her mother refusing to leave her tend the cafe alone.  Neisha is at one with her natural surroundings and is comfortable and self assured  within her safety zone. It is she that tells Mia about the tea. 

When they are in life-threatening danger and Mia finds out that Neisha can't swim, it's Mia's strength and persistence that gets Neisha out of the boat and to safety. The girls personalities are opposite, as are their cultures, and yet they compliment one another and find themselves becoming true friends. In the end Mia cares about Neisha getting to go to high school on the big island. Neisha reassures Mia about her mom getting stronger. Through the girls quest for the tea, Mia grows, painfully at times, as she learns about responsibility, friendship and the importance of family. Likewise, Neisha is forced  to conquer her fear of the water. She then shows her strengths sharing her knowledge of survival on an uninhabited island.

What message do you hope that your readers will take away from this story?

I think there are many messages in the story, but the bottom line is, that two girls from opposite cultures could meet, form a strong bond of friendship, and in the end,  provide each other the strength to face their individual lives and circumstances that lie ahead of them.

What are you working on now?

Yes, a writer is always working! My next book is a chapter book for middle grade readers, the same age group as HURRICANE MIA. The book is entitled, CHARLEY,  a story of a city boy from Boston, who is orphaned and finds himself in a traveling choir. The choir tours throughout New England singing at churches and community halls. After singing, the children are lined up and a few are chosen by families to live with them. Charley is not chosen time and time again until finally, in the depths of rural Maine, a dairy farmer, at the request of his wife, chooses Charley! The adventures begin, the city boy is now a country boy or not?

I am also working on a new picture story book, SATCHI AND LITTLE STAR. A story  about an island girl who tries to catch and tame a wild horse. In the end she learns what friendship really is. My third novel is in the beginning planning stages entitled, SHY MAGGIE.

Do you have a website? How can readers pick up a copy of your book?

Yes, I do have a website, www.donnaseim.com. HURRICANE MIA, A Caribbean Adventure, is available at www.publishingworks.com under the Pea Pod Press imprint and Amazon.com. I can also be found on Twitter @hurricanemia.


The love of children and children's literature has played an integral role in Donna Seim's life. Hurricane Mia! A Caribbean Adventure, is Donna's first novel for middle grade readers.

When Donna is not in the Caribbean, she lives in Newbury, Massachusetts, with her husband and her dog, Rags.
Donna is a graduate of Ohio State University, and holds a master's degree in Special Education from Lesley University.

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