Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tour Stop | The Swan Bonnet by Katherine L. Holmes

Book Title: The Swan Bonnet
Author: Katherine L. Holmes
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Presented by: As You Wish Tours

Two Bird Endangerment Books

In time for summer vacation reading, The Wide Awake Loons was published April 16 by Silver Knight Publishing. Here is some of the back cover copy for this middle grade novel.

Ten-year-old Ginny and her mother are opening up the cabin where her family stays during the summer. On an otherwise quiet day, Ginny hears a male loon, Yudel, sparring with a younger bird over territory.

Canoeing with her friend, Wes, Ginny discovers a loon nest on an island. They quickly find themselves protecting the defenseless eggs against predators. During the summer, the loons raise three loonlings. Now faced with many dangers, Yudel and his mate, Owala, will put their courage to the test. Follow the journey of Ginny and the loons as their stories unite . . .

Since childhood, I've watched for loons summers, wondering at their two lives – their floating like ducks on the water's surface and their deep diving, what makes them so elusive. My mother's family had a lake cabin and we also stayed at resorts. During college, I worked at two resorts during summers. It was a normal summer when I heard loons. A boyfriend could imitate loon calls so well that loons answered.

Yet loons have disappeared from many Minnesota lakes as people populated them. The year I wrote The Wide Awake Loons, the roads near the lake I'd known since childhood had become named instead of being backwoods dirt roads, found only with directions.

The Wide Awake Loons is published three months before The Swan Bonnet. They are very different books yet the loon book urged me to write another bird endangerment story. My brother was then doing law work in Alaska and, with some ideas about moving there, I began reading about the south coast area. Coming across the near-extinction of swans in North America, I was again ready to research, this time the historical side. There must have been heroes and villains.

The Wide Awake Loons doesn’t have a clear-cut villain outside of the animal predatory system. Loons have become scarce without hunting or any intentional action against them. Perhaps it is because of the remote and solitary ways of loons that I imagined communication between them and other animals. I could hardly believe that such birds, and other animals too, didn’t have a communication system. As I wrote the loon book, I considered that animals might use telepathy.

The Swan Bonnet, due out from GMTA Publishing July 16, was too tragic a plot for me to attempt anthropormorphism. In fact I wasn't so sure of that book. In 2009, I posted part of it at While it went to the HarperCollins Editor's Desk, I considered a total rewrite, making the protagonist a teenager and giving her more of the vigilante action. The books are not a series. Yet they are both based on facts about migrating waterfowl and the settings where they nest.


Swans are endangered in 1920s Alaska. Unbeknown to Dawn, her grandfather has shot an old swan out of mercy. In their coastal Alaskan town, her father buys the swan pelt, preventing her Uncle Alex, a fur trader, from selling it for export. Dawn’s father surprises her part-Aleut mother with a hat she helped to make and also with an idea to catch poachers. Dawn and her mother become involved with the suspicious effects of the swan bonnet besides its haunting effect. But after they encounter women from a ship and find out about a hunting party, they ride to the inlet. There are townspeople roving the shore too but who is the vigilante and who is the poacher?

Katherine L. Holmes’ first published book was The House in Windward Leaves, an MG fantasy which became an E-book Finalist in the 2013 New Generation Indie Book Awards and a Juvenile Fiction Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. Also, she won Prize Americana for her short story collection, Curiosity Killed the Sphinx and Other Stories, published by Hollywood Books International. In April 2013, The Wide Awake Loons was released by Silver Knight Publishing. The Swan Bonnet, a historical novel, will be published in July, 2013, by GMTA Publishing. Katherine has worked with used and rare books in the last years. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota.





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