Marylee MacDonald Day 3

“Montpelier Tomorrow is a touching read that highlights not only the challenges faced by those suffering from ALS, but the resounding strength of love that unites a family in the face of overwhelming grief. This is also an uplifting tale that underscores the resilience of the human spirit and the unbreakable strength of the family bond.”-- Literary Fiction Book Review

“An affecting, deeply honest novel; at the same time, a lacerating indictment of our modern health care system.”— Kirkus Reviews

Marylee MacDonald

The #1 and #2 Questions I’m Asked About My Novel

The first question readers want to know is, What’s up with title, MONTPELIER TOMORROW? How do you pronounce Montpelier? Is it a place or a date in the future, or just what?
The above are questions that I’ve been asked by curious and baffled readers.  Let’s just start by saying
that Montpelier is the capital of Vermont.  The protagonist, mid-life mom, Colleen Gallagher, tries to
give her dying son-in-law Tony a memorable last Christmas by orchestrating a train trip to Vermont.  The
phrase “Montpelier tomorrow” comes from a line near the end of the book, and hearkens back to that
pivotal trip to Vermont when the family was fighting hard to maintain a semblance of happiness.
For much of its life, this novel wasn’t entitled MONTPELIER TOMORROW. At first I called it UNPAID
LABOR, a title that I thought pointed to an underlying theme in the book, which is that people are often
called upon to be caregivers and that they don’t get paid for it. At a later point, I began calling the book
ANGELS IN THE HOUSE. I liked that title because Colleen draws strength from the people who are no
longer there, but whose love and support she still needs.
At a writers’ conference at Arizona State—the Desert Nights, Rising Stars conference—I heard an agent
say that the word “angels” in a title would doom it to obscurity. Isn’t that crazy? But, I believed him
because he was a lot closer to the New York City publishing scene than I was.

The second question that comes up in various guises is whether there is a message in the novel that I want readers to grasp?
No. In fact I think readers can spot a writer standing on a soapbox. I’m a storyteller, not a preacher. I
have written this book and put it out there. Now I will wait for readers to tell me what the takeaways
are.  That said, the issues in this book will be very pertinent to anyone who has ever been a caregiver or
watched a loved one take on that role. While the book is nominally about ALS, the issues apply to any
long-term care situation. It could be the care of injured vet or a disabled child or loved one with a
disease that causes a slow wasting away.
At what point do life-extending measures make the caregiver’s job even more difficult? Are there any
care options for young, ill parents whose extreme care needs may compete with those of young
children? Where is the safety net for families facing overwhelming odds?

This book doesn’t examine these issues in the same way a nonfiction book would do, but they’re there,
adding to the pressure. Colleen, the main character, tries to figure out what kind of situation she’s
gotten herself into, and then begins to wonder how she can get herself out.
I don’t know that I have any definite answers about long-term caregiving, but I have a ton of compassion
for anyone confronted with a long-lasting health care situation. I try to keep up on the research and find
tips and stories that might be useful for family caregivers. Please drop by my blog. If you’d like to
contribute a guest post, let me know.


More info about the book, including the trailer, go here: http://bit.ly/13N9bdR

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Julie, and everyone who has entered the giveaway for a free copy of my book.


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