Following up on the success of her first book, Fenwick Island resident Fran Hasson recently published her second novel, “Mothers and Other Strangers.” The book is a follow-up to her self-published first novel, “Allawe,” which follows Marla and Vern Alexander’s journey after Marla discovers a box of ashes that has washed up on shore — a story element sparked by a real-life local find.
In “Mothers and Other Strangers,” the story follows Vern Alexander, whose mother reveals a family secret from her hospital bed.
“It’s a story of rejection, guilt, motherly love and not-so-motherly love,” explained Hasson. “It’s based on a true story, just like ‘Allawe.’ This time, it’s based on a family secret and a family situation that eventually had a happy ending.”
The book will take the Alexanders from Fenwick Island to Saint Croix in the Virgin Islands and to Florida and Maryland.
Locals will find Hasson’s book again features local spots and organizations, including Indian River High School and Bethany Florist.
“People who are local to both of these places, they’ll know the places that I’ve written about,” said Hasson. “Vern has committed a sin, and he goes to Bethany Florist and buys flowers from his way home from work. He owns a business modeled on Solutions Plus in Millville.
“Vern and Marla live in my house. When he was a young child, he lived in my sister’s house. The unsavory character who lives on Saint Croix lives in my friend’s house who painted the front cover… I guess people put in a lot of things that are personal to them. That’s what I’ve done.”
An animal lover, Hasson also included her cat Marmalade and the Cats Around Town Society (CATS), based in Bethany Beach, in her book.
“My cat is one of the main sub-characters in the book. I had a lot of animals in the first one — I had one cat, a number of Crucian dogs. But this time the only cat is my cat Marmalade.
“CATS is mentioned in the book, too. I put them in there because of Terry [Nicholson] — she’s a miracle worker. I got my cat from her.”
A prominent character in both of Hasson’s books is Saint Croix itself, where Hasson once lived with her two sons for four years, working as a teacher.
“I love Saint Croix,” she said. “It’s my muse.”
Hasson said that, during her time there, she made many great friends, including artist and author L. William Gibbons.
“I’m really proud of the cover that my friend painted,” she said.
Hasson said it took her about two years to write “Mothers and Other Strangers.” Throughout the process, she asked her fellow writers in the Rehoboth Beach Writers’ Guild and the Eastern Shore Writers Association’s Rabbit Gnaw critique group to review her work.
“I got a lot of critiquing from the class itself, which was very helpful,” she said. “I think with both [books], that was the most important thing — to have shared it as I’ve been writing it with other writers, to get their input… You’re exposing yourself, but in the long run, it’s really absolutely essential.”
Although “Mothers and Other Strangers” returns to familiar characters from Hasson’s first book, she said those who have yet to read “Allawe” can still enjoy the story.
“People who did read the first book will be interested to hear about some of the characters from before,” she noted.
Those interested in purchasing the book may go to Fenwick Float-Ors, Patti’s Hallmark, McCabe’s Gourmet Market, Biblion or Browsabout Books, as well as a number of shops in St. Croix. “Mothers and Other Strangers” may also be purchased online at Amazon.com, in paperback or for Kindle. The book costs $14.95.
Hasson will hold a book signing on Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Millville Super Giant, where she will also be selling copes of the book. Signings will also be held at Biblion on Dec. 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Browseabout Books on Dec. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. She will hold book signings in St. Croix, as well.
Hasson said she enjoys holding signings and meeting community members.
“I like meeting the people,” she said. “When I wrote the first book, I never had the intention of writing a book and selling it… Now I just like to get out and meet people and talk about my book.”
She enjoys it so much, she has even given talks to local community organizations, such as the Lions Club and women’s clubs.
“I’d be glad to talk about it. Sometimes people just want to know the writing process. When I talked about ‘Allawe,’ I took the box of ashes with me, along with some of the props used for my book.”
She added that it’s one of the ways she has been able to get feedback from her readers.
“A lot of people seemed to really like my first book,” she said, recalling one gentleman who contacted her on Facebook, thanking her for writing “Allawe.” “He had gotten that comfort from my book… That’s something that you remember.”
Hasson said she hopes those who read the book will enjoy the story she has crafted, just as much as she enjoyed writing it.
“I would like people to enjoy my book,” she said.
For more information about “Mothers and Other Strangers,” to purchase a copy, or to ask Hasson to speak at an event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.