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a:Take Five: Julie Carrick Dalton and Waiting For The Night Song

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Please join us in celebrating contributor Julie Carrick Dalton’s January 12 release of her debut novel, Waiting for the Night Song.

Carrick’s novel has already made the following lists:

Buzzfeed: 2021 Thriller And Mystery Novels That Sound Incredibly Intriguing
Medium: The Most Exciting Reads Of Winter/Spring 2021
Frolic: The Best 12 Books of Winter
Frolic: The Must-Read Thrillers and Mysteries of 2021
SheReads: 12 Most anticipated books of 2021
Betches: Winter 2020-2021 Reading List

As a journalist, Julie Carrick Dalton’s has published more than a thousand articles in publications including The Boston Globe, BusinessWeek, The Hollywood Reporter, Electric Literature, and The Chicago Review of Books. Her debut novel, WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG, launches Jan. 12, 2021 from Tor/Forge Macmillan, to be followed by a second stand-alone, THE LAST BEEKEEPER, in 2022. A Tin House alum, 2021 Bread Loaf Environmental Writer’s Conference Fellow, and graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, Julie holds a master’s in literature and creative writing from Harvard Extension School. She is the winner of the William Faulkner Literary Competition and was a finalist for the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature and the Caledonia Novel Award. She is a frequent speaker and workshop leader on the topic of Fiction in the Age of Climate Crisis. Mom to four kids and two dogs, Julie also owns and operates an organic farm in rural New Hampshire, the backdrop for her debut.

“Julie Carrick Dalton’s deftly constructed, urgent yet slow-burning debut novel reads like a warning from the frontlines of our rapidly deteriorating natural world. What begins as a story about a terrible childhood secret buried in a small New England town soon expands into a meditation on the myriad ways we have failed our planet, and the repercussions of that failure. The burning forests and invasive species that plague the New Hampshire of this novel are, for now, mostly fictional, but the trajectory of our present state — a trajectory from which WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG extrapolates — is not.” — Omar El Akkad, American War

Thank you, Julie, for joining us today to answer a few questions about your upcoming title!

Q1: What’s the premise of your new book?

Cadie Kessler, a forestry researcher, is in the middle of trying to head off a potential wildfire when she gets a panicked message from her long-estranged childhood friend, Daniela, after a body is discovered in the woods where they played as kids. Cadie rushes home, where she and Daniela must acknowledge the traumatic childhood secret that drove them apart decades earlier. As Cadie and Daniela confront their past, they come face to face with truths about themselves they don’t want to see, and Cadie must decide what she’s willing to risk to protect the people and the forest she loves. WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG is a portrait of friendship, secrets, and betrayal, a love song to the natural world, a call to fight for what we believe in, and a reminder that the truth will always rise.

Q2: What would you like people to know about the story itself?

WAITING FOR THE NIGHT SONG started out as an adventure story about two young girls getting into mischief. The mountains, woods, and lakes of New Hampshire quickly emerged as a character and started dictating where the story was headed. I followed along and ended up telling a very different story than the one I started with. I hope readers will identify with my flawed main character who is willing to risk everything for the wild places she and I both love.

Q3: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?

As adults, Cadie and Daniela not only have to face the consequences of a life-altering decision they made as kids, but they must face the pain they caused to themselves, each other, and their community by burying the truth. I put my characters in situations where doing the presumed ‘right thing’ may not be the right thing to do. For example, as a forestry researcher, Cadie knows she is about to prove an invasive beetle infestation is setting the stage for a forest fire. But in order to collect the samples she needs to prove the beetle has moved into the forest, she must defy government regulations and trespass to collect samples from land closed off to research. She has to decide if proving she is right – and potentially heading off a fire – is worth risking her career and possibly getting arrested.

Q4: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?

The structure of this book gave me fits. In its final form, Waiting for the Night Song is a dual timeline narrative that switches back and forth from Cadie’s point of view at age 11 to Cadie’s POV three decades later. In the early drafts I wrote the story chronologically, including all the stuff in between – high school, college, and beyond. After several drafts, I realized I only wrote the middle part for myself, so I would know who Cadie was and where she had been. I cut out the middle and wove the childhood and adult parts together to tell a single story. It was exasperating, but definitely the right way to tell this particular story.

Q5: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?

I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that I toughed it out and didn’t give up. I raised four kids and built a farm during the thirteen years it took to write this book. I’m proud of the of the final product and I still get a thrill every time I see my cover. But the most rewarding aspect of my publishing journey has been connecting with the writing community. I’ve made wonderful life-long friends who understand the specific joys, fears, anxieties, and disappointments that come with trying to publish a book. I’ll hold fast to those relationships, and to the writing community in general, for the rest of my life.

To learn more about Julie and her upcoming release, please visit: https://juliecarrickdalton.com/books/



Writer Unboxed began as a collaboration between Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton in 2006. Since then the site has grown to include ~50 regular contributors--including bestselling authors and industry leaders--and frequent guests. In 2014, the first Writer Unboxed UnConference (part UNtraditional conference, part intensive craft event, part networking affair) was held in Salem, MA. Learn more about our 2019 event, ESCAPE TO WuNDERLAND, on Eventbrite. In 2016, the Writer Unboxed team published a book with Writer's Digest. AUTHOR IN PROGRESS: A No-Holds-Barred Guide to What It Really Takes to Get Published has been well-received by readers who seek help in overcoming the hurdles faced at every step of the novel-writing process--from setting goals, researching, and drafting to giving and receiving critiques, polishing prose, and seeking publication. James Scott Bell has said of the guide, "Nourishment for the writer's soul and motivation for the writer's heart." You can follow Writer Unboxed on Twitter, and join our thriving Facebook community.


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