The Vines We Planted
by Joanell Serra
Category: Fiction, 285 pages
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Release date: 4/17/2018
In the heart of the California wine country, secrets seem to grow on the vines that Uriel Macon’s family has tended for generations.
Uriel, the winery’s young widower, steers clear of complicated relationships. He prefers the lonely comfort of his vineyard and his horses. Until he is reminded of his love affair with Amanda Scanlon, a relationship that ended when she abruptly left the country years ago under a cloud of mystery.
When, due to a family crisis, Amanda returns to Sonoma, she tries to mend the broken relationships left behind. In addition, she seeks the truth about her parents’ complicated history and her own parentage.
But Amanda’s unveiling of the past has devastating consequences. In the midst of California’s beautiful Sonoma Valley, the Scanlon family struggles to overcome harsh realities with dignity and grace.
Both Amanda and Uriel stretch to take care of their families, who are facing immigration issues, marital crises, and illness. While navigating these challenges, the couple must decide if they trust themselves to love again, or to finally let each other go.
A Sonoma local, author Joanell Serra’s debut novel is captivating, poignant, and uplifting, demonstrating how seeds planted long ago continue to grow. Sometimes into a strangling weed, sometimes offering a bountiful harvest.
Born and raised in New Jersey in an absolutely colorful family, I came west as soon as I finished college.
I live, work and write in Northern California. I am a parent and licensed therapist as well as a writer. These many roles give me plenty of material!
Writing for many years, I’ve been very fortunate as a writer. I have had the pleasure of being included in excellent anthologies, seen my words come to life on stage, sat around the fire with a group of talented and kind writers at Squaw, been hosted for complimentary week at Santa Barbara Writer’s conference, and received encouragement from across the country as my stories have been published by highly regarded websites and literary magazines. The Bay Area is a vibrant place for writers, and I reap the benefits – whether I am reading in a small setting or being mentored by one of the wonderful local writers.
I love living a literary life, among so many inspiring writers.
Read more about the author and her writings on her website
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Q&A with Joanell Serra
When is the book available? And where should readers find it?
The book is out in pre-sale now, at the publisher’s site, on sale and with free shipping:
It is also on Amazon as a Kindle release April 17 and print release May 8.
It is also on shelves at bookstores near Sonoma, and can be ordered at any Independent bookstore.
In The Vines We Planted, one of the challenges for a main character is immigration concerns. What made you decide to include that?
Living in California, issues with immigration are really challenging for much of our community. In describing Gloria’s circumstances, I wanted to show the reality my friends, clients and colleagues face – being undocumented, even if they’ve been here since childhood, means almost constant fear. There are few avenues to “legalize”, but returning to a country they barely know, where there is no economic opportunity to even provide food for their children, is unrealistic. For now at least, they are caught in a very difficult bind. Rather than lecture, I wanted to show the absurd situations that arise. One of the characters is fighting for the “right” to work, while the child of her father, a citizen, chooses not to.
How long did it take to write this novel?
Years! I wish I could tell you it was easy, but it was a long labor of love. Initially short stories, I eventually realized the need for this to be a novel and went back to the drawing board. With a lot of help from editors and beta readers, I eventually shaped it into a novel, in which I hope the stories blend seamlessly.
What’s next? Any chance of a sequel?
The next book is about 50% done, but I’m again taking my time to make it as rich and engaging as possible. Many of the characters from The Vines We Planted re-emerge, and we are back at the winery! However the protagonists are both new to the readers, as is are some of the extreme circumstances they face, inspired by the real live events here in Sonoma this fall.
You live and work in Sonoma, where the book is set. Do you ever feel art and life getting blurred?
I really do. I do my “research’ for the book by visiting some of my favorite wineries. Lately I’ve heard a few life stories that sound so much like my characters’ I have to remind myself I wrote the book over a year ago – I’m not using these folks as material! But I find life and art are like that – more of a kaleidoscope than separate worlds.
How can readers find out more about you and your writing?
Please check out my author site, follow my author blog about all things writing, Sonoma, and life, and “like” my Facebook, Goodreads, or Instagram feed [links above]. I love to hear from readers and of course really appreciate readers’ honest reviews.