THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Candice Marley Conner , is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “The Existence of Bea Pearl”. Take it away, Candice…

The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

One of my favorite pastimes growing up was reading Nancy Drew books by a swamp in the middle of the woods. That, and creating stories. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. The ability to see through other’s perspectives has always seemed magical to me. I wanted to turn the mundane into something new too. I grew up on a fish farm that had been a recreational spot from the 1930s to the1970s thanks to an artesian-fed pool, and heard stories from teachers and old men in front of the hardware store of how they met their soulmates out there as teens. I could trace my fingers over couples’ names etched in the heart-pine windowsills and hunt for glass marbles and silver bracelets when we drained the pond every Spring to harvest catfish and tilapia.

My family and I would find sand dollar and shark’s teeth fossils in the limestone banks from when the whole area was under a primordial sea. We had alligators eating out of the dog’s food bowls, ‘possums in the cat’s food, crawfish in the swimming pool, and had to check our boots for tadpoles or snakes before putting them on. It was an amazing swamp-wild childhood with both a nostalgic and natural history that I wanted to claim somehow. Let the past and present exist together somewhere. It wasn’t until my first child was born, and my husband urged me to stay at home with her, that I decided this was it—my time to put butt to chair, lifelong dream to the computer screen. Nap-times were specially reserved for perusing Writer’s Digest issues as I scrounged for how-to, inspiration and writing prompts. The idea-sparks that ignited the original inspiration for my young adult novel, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL, were an amalgamation: a writing prompt from a 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest to write what scares you (losing a loved one), write what you know (the swamps and river I grew up in), my childhood adoration of Nancy Drew books, and wanting to explore a place that doesn’t exist anymore.

This story is my love letter to the swamp and river that shaped me. As one of the most bio-diverse river systems in the U.S., I want people to see through my perspective—past the mud and decay to the natural beauty and know it’s something valuable to treasure. With the talent of my artist friend, Erica Ross, I commissioned artwork that reflects this swamp and river-wild adoration. Her artwork, featuring native plants and animals, is now on the Threadless website with proceeds going to the Alabama Rivers Alliance to help protect the 132,000 miles of Alabama waterways. This story is also my ode to girls who search out the truth no matter how society tells them to behave. About believing in yourself and those you love. About existence and what kind of life you choose. I hope readers fall in love with Bea Pearl, her best friend Honey, and the mysterious Chatothatchee River as much as I have.


About The Author:

Growing up between swamps, a river, and the Gulf Coast, Candice Marley Conner’s stories emerge from gnarled cypress knees, muddy water, and salty air. She is the kidlit haint at a haunted indie bookstore (but not haunted how you’re thinking), a Local Liaison for SCBWI, and an officer for her local writer’s guild. Her short stories and poems are in various anthologies and magazines including Woolgathering, Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids, Highlights Hello, Cabinet of Curiosities, Under the Full Moon’s Light, Babybug, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and more. She is the author of two picture books, CHOMPSEY CHOMPS BOOKS and SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL, as well as the YA Southern mystery, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two children (one of whom is possibly feral, and definitely a velociraptor).

Candice is represented by Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

She loves to connect with other writers and readers!


Instagram: @candice_marleyconner
Facebook: @cmarleyconnerauthor
Twitter: @candice_marleyc


Book blurb:

If her brother could stop existing, could she too?

Sixteen-year-old Bea Pearl knows her brother isn’t dead. Even if her parents don’t agree. Even if the entire town doesn’t believe her. She knows it’s true. When orders came to evacuate Lake George due to rising floodwaters, Bea Pearl saw Jim head toward the river. She followed him. Only she returned. When her parents have Jim declared legally dead, Bea Pearl decides it’s up to her to figure out where her brother could be if he is alive, and so begins to unravel the mystery of his disappearance. But it seems like someone else wants to know what he was hiding when his bedroom is ransacked. More clues come together: a scrap of paper, mysterious numbers that may lead to swamp monkeys, Jim’s shoes turning up in unexpected places. Bea Pearl can’t figure out what connects them all until she’s stolen from her bed in the dead of night.

Bea Pearl’s insistence that Jim’s alive and her quest to figure out why he went down to a flooding river in the first place takes a toll on her shattering family. But she must unearth the truth surrounding her presumed dead brother. Otherwise, the rumors are true and she has killed him. Because if Jim can stop existing, could she too?

Book Trailer:
Purchase Link:

Donna L

Hybrid award winning author; aspiring sketch artist; and 4th Degree Senior Certified Taekwondo Instructor. Host of BOOK NOOK REVIEWS. Member of SCBWI. Mom to fabulous son and adventurer delving into the tricky world of indie-publishing.

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