Local author Julie Morley weaves an inspiring tale of love, loss and reconciliation
Rarely does a book hit as close to home as Julie Morley’s new novel, “Cole Creek.” Not only is the compelling story set in our very own backyard—with scenes from the Santa Cruz harbor and Big Basin among others—but the enduring tale involves the many nuances of life that we all seem to struggle with. David and Rebecca, a couple that at one time was much in love, are threatened by the winding passage that time and life takes. Their separation is hard on their only child Toni, who as a teenager turns to David’s mother Irene in the absence of her own mother. Rebecca experiences an unendurable loss of self worth, and finds herself in a dangerous situation with a new man who wants to manipulate her life to fit his egomaniacal mold. Twists and turns ensue and are woven into a story that becomes more alive with each chapter. Morley also uses the restorative powers of nature and the innate spirituality possessed by human beings to create redemption and to animate her characters’ lives.
Rife with love, emotion, intrigue and eventual understanding, “Cole Creek” takes readers into a tale of what it means to forgive the ones we love and make each moment we have on this earth more meaningful.
GT caught up with Morley to glean a deeper insight into the factors that inspired her to pen “Cole Creek.”
Good Times: What was the impetus for this novel?
JULIE MORLEY: When I first started the story, I was interested in a particular aspect of how a woman finds herself giving up control of her life. That was the core of the story in the beginning, but then it mutated. I wanted the wilderness and specifically the Sierra to be involved in helping Rebecca to gain back her sense of self.
How did the plot of “Cole Creek” come to you?
I started with what I knew which were scenes in Santa Cruz with the beach, junior guards, and the harbor, and then I knew that I was going to travel to the Sierra. I tried to think—because I wanted Rebecca to be a strong woman—how a strong woman, a vivacious person, could end up as a shell of a person. I had to establish her early life as being good, then I had to figure out what kind of thing would happen to her to make her turn into a woman like that. Why would she turn away from her family and the man that she loved? The tragedy is what brought her down enough to make her turn away from the people that she loved, specifically her daughter. In reality the story started telling itself.
Did people in your real life inspire the characters in the book?
A little bit of both of my daughters in the character of Toni. They were both junior guards; there are aspects of each of them in that. I identified myself with Irene. My husband is the harbormaster, so I was able to pick his brain for some of the scenes in the book. But it’s definitely not autobiographical.
Is there really a place called Cole Creek?
There is a real Cole Creek. And it is seven miles off of Silver Lake in the Sierra. The Cole Creek Lakes are seven miles from that, but the cabin is fictional.
Can you please explain the roles that nature and spirituality play in your book?
I wanted to bring out the concept that human beings are not alone on this earth. We get energy and give energy to nature. Living things offer us support to make decisions that are good for us, to offer us healing. We open ourselves up to that and sometimes it requires being alone, taking solo journeys into nature. I believe that’s good for everybody because there’s something about being alone in the forest or in the desert in that we are more open to hearing the messages from the world.
What do you hope people will take away with them after reading “Cole Creek?”
I hope that people will, number one, spend more time outdoors. And also, that people start looking at how they can add meaning to life by celebrating simple ceremonies like in the way that we tend plants, or walk on the earth—to do it with reverence and feel our place in the world. In the book I said, “When we take care of ourselves, it’s a gift to everyone else on the planet.” Just be real in the world.
How has your life changed since your book has been published?
Well, it’s changed a lot. I feel connected to my creative energy. I have had this knocking on my door for decades of this thing I knew I was supposed to do but hadn’t done. Not that I’ve achieved it quite yet, but I am now living the life I was meant to live professionally in my creative life. I’m really finding out who Julie is.
Julie Morley will be signing copies of her new novel “Cole Creek” from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27. Island Home and Garden, 844 17th Ave., Santa Cruz. For more information, call 476-6460 or visit julieannemorley.com.