Maria Elena Sandovici was first introduced in this column in the weeks following Hurricane Harvey with her watercolor painting of the Houston skyline. Sandovici’s waterlogged skyline with stormy skies above seemed to reflect the sentiment of the entire city’s population.
A former Galveston resident, Sandovici is a full-time artist, writer and 2018 graduate of John Ross Palmer’s Escapist Mentorship Program. She has been a frequent exhibitor at the First Saturday Arts Market where we met. As an avid fan of tenacious artists pursuing their goals, it is no surprise that I tell you that Sandovici has released her sixth novel during the stay-at-home world we have lived in for the past several weeks.
Sandovici has released her new historical novel, “Storms of Malhado.” In it, three women with strikingly similar destinies face deadly hurricanes on Galveston Island through three different historical eras. The novel was set to release in September, on the anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900, but Sandovici decided to surprise her readers with an early release during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Too many fun things had to be cancelled or postponed,” Sandovici said. “This was something much anticipated by my readers, which I could speed up for them.”
Focusing on three emblematic moments in Galveston’s history – 1900, 1961 and 2008 – “Storms of Malhado” pays homage to the island’s resilience in the face of adversity. Several local businesses that survived Hurricane Ike and continued to thrive are mentioned (Maceo Spice and Imports, The Witchery and The Tremont House, among others), and many locations are recognizable to those who love Galveston.
Sandovici, a frequent visitor to Galveston, was initially inspired by a story her friends Melissa and Caitlin Fortier, to whom the novel is dedicated, told Sandovici during Hurricane Harvey. The book received critical input from several beta readers, including authors Donna Dechen Birdwell and Courtney Brandt, as well as feedback on historical accuracy from Margaret Doran, long associated with the Galveston Historical Foundation and the Rosenberg Library.
The book was edited by Mandy Schoen and formatted by graphic designer Lisa Goodrich, whose contribution especially shines through in the old-world charm of the paperback version. The ebook cover was designed by Buburuza Productions using original art created by Sandovici for this purpose.
Signings and release parties must wait, but an exclusive group of loyal readers already received their copies in the mail and early reviews are glowing.
“Ms. Sandovici has done an extraordinary job of writing three distinct stories yet subtly weaving them together to create a fascinating whole,” wrote long-time Sandovici reader Jill Macomber.
“This has to be my favorite of all of Ms. Sandovici’s works!” added Charissa Paulson, another loyal reader.
Sandovici’s five previous novels are “Dogs with Bagels,” “Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches,” “Lost Path to Solitude,” “The Adventures of Miss Vulpe” and “Lone Wolf” as well a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog. She blogs daily at HaveWatercolorsWillTravel.blog. The blog has links to Amazon where her book is available on Kindle or paperback.
If you have questions about Sandovici or her new book, contact her at 570-807-6411 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.