Monday, May 25, 2020

Character Interview & Giveaway: STORMS OF MALHADO

Genre: Historical Fiction / Ghosts
Publisher: Independently Published
Date of Publication: March 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 252

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Galveston Island, Texas, September 2008 Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts. And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s home is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived there in different eras died in hurricanesone during Hurricane Carla in 1961, one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to befall the United States. But that was the past, a fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s Broadway mansion, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship.

While Katie is not afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching. As even die-hard Islanders evacuate, her fears grow
—fear of the looming hurricane, fear that she’s talentless as a painter, fear that her relationship with her boyfriend is already over. As Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life. 

Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, and its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.


“Taking place entirely on a beautifully moody Galveston Island, Ms. Sandovici weaves three simultaneous stories with ease. With a timeless tale, ethereal language, and complicated characters, readers will be entranced by this modern ghost story. How many times can the past repeat itself? How do we recognize people through generations? The author tackles this topic amid a backdrop of violent nature and intangible dreamscapes." 

—Courtney Brandt, author of The Queen of England: Coronation, Grand Tour, Ascension

”Three women, three great storms, and one house, haunted by forbidden love and frustrated ambition. Get ready to be swept away by Sandovici’s foray into Galveston Island’s tempestuous history in this tale of lives intertwined across time.”
—Donna Dechen Birdwell, author of Not Knowing


Interview with artist Katie Ann Williams, from Storms of Malhado, on her new show on Galveston Island, twelve years after Ike

Katie, your career as an abstract artist has taken you to some of the most exclusive galleries and museums all over the world. How does it feel to be back in Galveston?

It feels wonderful to be back home! I love the idea of things coming full circle. I celebrate this in my work. And for me, this always means coming back to the island. I know some people think I’m weird when I talk about this. Others think it’s fascinating. But I feel like my connection to this island goes back into my past lives. It’s a deep connection.

How has Galveston changed since Ike?

Like me, Galveston has experienced a true rebirth. I couldn’t be prouder of it. I was here for Ike. I saw the devastation with my own eyes. Some businesses had to move to new buildings. Others sustained a lot of damage but were able to restore. If you walk around downtown, you’ll see several markers of where the water line was. But, after all the loss and sadness, some beautiful things happened. Have you seen the Pleasure Pier? That’s where the old Flagship Hotel stood. It was a ruin after Ike and now we have this new attraction. Have you been on the carousel yet? It’s so magical!

Of course, things were lost that we can never get back. The Balinese Room is gone. Completely gone. People we all loved are gone too. But Galveston rebuilt because it’s hardwired for survival. I used to think we were all stuck in the past, forever mourning the glory days before the Storm of 1900. I used to think you can’t grow when you feed on nostalgia. But nostalgia is a beautiful thing. Think about poetry, about art, about romance, and enchantment. The past doesn’t have to hold you back. We have a lot of history here on the island. We can use it to inspire us and to inspire others. I love being in touch with my past selves. So does Galveston. It’s a source of power.

Are you concerned that your show might be postponed because of COVID-19?

I’m hardly ever concerned about anything. Hurricanes make you patient. So does art. I know what’s important, and on a day-to-day basis, it’s painting and sharing my work with others. My show is in the summer, and by then I hope it will be safe for people to come. If not, we will put it online. There’s always a solution. I’m also eager for the Bathing Beauties contest to take place on August 1. I’m very much looking forward to it because a good friend is in it.

What is your new show about?

Ironically, in these strange times when we are realizing how little control we have over everything, my show is about surrendering, letting things happen, letting emotions flow. Abstract art is scary because it requires the artist to let go of control. I’ve always struggled with this, but it’s taught me many things. Mostly about following my instincts, accepting my feelings, and trying to be fully present.

What is your favorite place on Galveston Island?

Can I pick three? Seriously, one favorite spot on this beautiful island … East Beach, definitely East Beach, that place where you can be alone in nature, where you might encounter coyotes, where the cargo ships look close enough to touch, but I also love standing in front of the Basilica and seeing Mary up there protecting us all. And I love my parents’ historical home on Broadway.

Where should people stay, eat, and shop if they come to the island to see your show?

My mom’s B&B is booked up, but you can rent a sweet little historical house through Airbnb (see if you can get Little Winnie—you can thank me later!) or stay at the Tremont House. I love that hotel! Eat at Maceo’s! Best muffulettas ever, but seriously, everything is good and made with love and the atmosphere is unbeatable. You’ll want to bottle the scent and take it home. Shop at Tangerine Boutique, but don’t miss the Witchery, Kitchen Chick, Hendley Market, and, for a special kind of treat, check out the Island Music Center on Rosenberg. You also want to stop in at René Wiley Gallery (check out my friend Rachel Wiley’s work while there) and go see Nautical Antiques on Mechanic. And Tippy Toes! If you come into town as early as Thursday, or don’t leave until Sunday, do yourself a favor and check out Galveston’s Own Farmers’ Market. Buy the bread from Galveston Bread. Sanitize your hands and dig in!

Maria Elena Sandovici is a full-time writer, artist, and gallery owner living in Houston, Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005, her curiosity led her to Texas, where she taught at Lamar University for fourteen years. She felt attracted to Galveston Island from her first visit and lived there part-time for three years before her artistic career took her to Houston. 

Sandovici is a 2008 graduate of John Ross Palmer's Escapist Mentorship Program, a program that teaches artists business skills. She resigned from her tenured academic position in December 2018 and opened her own private gallery space. Her previous works of fiction are Dogs with Bagels, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, Lost Path to Solitude, The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, and Lone Wolf. She is also the author of Stop and Smell the Garbage, a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog, Holly Golightly. You can follow her daily adventures on her blog
ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of Storms of Malhado
MAY 21-31, 2020
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