WEST POINT — Author Mary Montague Sikes's first experiences in education took place as a first, second, and third grade classroom teacher. Although she never aspired to become a teacher and wanted instead to be an artist, Sikes followed the urging of her father to enter a field where she might actually earn a living.
Happily, she loved working with young children and especially enjoyed all creative activities including producing plays in the classroom. Her latest novel, "Daddy's Christmas Angel," draws from Sikes's rich background teaching children of all ages.
"I was inspired by the romantic comedy, 'Sleepless in Seattle'," Sikes explains. "In that movie, Jonah, whose mother died of cancer, wants his father to find a new wife. In "Daddy's Christmas Angel," Kathleen also wants her father to find a new wife, but she wants her to be Angie McAllister, the second grade teacher she adores."
Sikes, the author of eight novels including the "Passenger to Paradise" exotic destination series, decided to set her latest book in Virginia in the fictitious town of Jefferson Point. "I like the idea of creating a make-believe location that can draw both from reality and from my imagination. This book also has a big old farmhouse in the setting that takes me back to my childhood and visits to the farm my aunt and uncle owned in Orange County."
A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Sikes is also author of several non-fiction books including the award-winning coffee table book "Hotels to Remember." Along the way, she realized her dream of becoming an artist, and many of her book covers feature her artwork. She considers the child on the cover of "Daddy's Christmas Angel" to be a composite of her three daughters and all the special children she has taught.
Part of the dedication of her latest novel reads: "To all the wonderful, creative teachers who love and inspire their students throughout every school year."
"Over the years, many teachers have inspired me, both as a student and as a colleague. These are the people in our society who deserve special recognition. I am proud to be a part of the education profession," Sikes says.
"Daddy's Christmas Angel," a book for all seasons, is set for release November 23. It will be available from Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/6qlofd3, from Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/3wgw4go, and from fine bookstores everywhere.
Sikes will have her new book available at book signings: Dec. 8, the Christmas Marketplace, Tides Inn in Irvington VA, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Dec. 14, Petersburg Regional Arts Center Christmas Show, Petersburg VA, 6 to 9 p.m.; Dec. 15, Regency Mall Authors Book Fair, Richmond VA, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Dec. 21, William and Mary Barnes & Noble, Williamsburg VA, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.