Family Matters

first book in series focuses on one of four sisters

Marie Anthony, photos by Andrea Paulseth

SUMMER BREEZE MAKES ME FEEL FINE. Diana Peterson’s family series kicks off with Summer Breeze.
SUMMER BREEZE MAKES ME FEEL FINE. Diana Peterson’s family series kicks off with Summer Breeze.

Sometimes it’s the seemingly small things - like the crisp pages of a new book - that are the biggest blessings in life. For me, Diana Peterson’s novel, Summer Breeze (part one of a four part series) was exactly that. As I poured over each word, I found myself enjoying visions of my grandparents’ home; seeing my mom cozied around the dining room table with her sister Judy and my grandma, sharing juicy stories about the neighbors down the road and canning fresh fruit. It’s why I could not wait to connect with Diana Peterson to learn more about her work and her inspiration behind the series. 

Summer Breeze introduces us to Victoria (Vic) Montgomery. Vic’s story focuses on a choice she must make. Does she want to remarry and uproot her life in Hollywood, California to return to her childhood home in Indianapolis? Or does she stay in California to continue her career? Through the course of her story, we also meet Vic’s sisters: Leslie, Isabella, and Meg.

When I asked Diana where she found inspiration for each of the sisters, she told me that her inspiration didn’t come from her own siblings. Rather, each of the sisters and their lives are facets of Diana’s personality and interests. Diana shared that she pulled pieces of her past into the story. “In one chapter,” she says, “Victoria and Isabella are sitting in their backyard and Victoria recalls them purposely listening in on their neighbors’ conversation as they did the dishes. My sister and I did do that I’m embarrassed to say.”

Before the Montgomery family came to be, Diana’s novel began as more of what she compares to “a walk around the block in preparation for a marathon.” She’d been working on writing prompts and exercises and remembers thinking, “It’s better than nothing but not very helpful.” That’s when Diane decided to move forward in a more productive way. “I decided to write a ‘fake’ book as practice; then write a ‘real’ book using one of my topics. I sat down to write my fake book and all the characters just flowed out of my pen. That became my real book,” says Peterson.

When it comes to writing, Diana says she most enjoys the research. “I try to be very authentic, she says, “There is a point in the middle section when Victoria’s son hands her coffee in a Styrofoam cup at the Hollywood Bowl. I researched to make sure that Styrofoam had been invented by (the 1950s).”

Diana relayed that she had an affinity for the 50s (that decade seemed more fun). “I also wanted people to realize while we have to be true to the history, people and situations weren’t that different from those today.”

While my time with Victoria Montgomery has ended, there’s still much more ahead. When Diana’s not working on books for the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum, she’s perfecting her next book in the series; set for release in October 2018. Each subsequent book in the series will showcase the life of one of the Montgomery sisters. The next book is from Leslie’s perspective. The third will highlight Meg and the fourth, Isabella.

“I really enjoyed getting to spend time with this family and their history, and I hope that readers feel like they are meeting new friends,” she says.

As Diana Peterson hoped, I did find a friend in Vic. I know that every time I find myself enjoying a Hostess pastry with my morning coffee or “falling off the tote wagon,” I’ll smile and think of her.

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