I began writing Miami Morning after a visit to the city, and to Miami Beach, in 2006. The rhythms and pace of life captivated me. It seemed to me to be a good place to set my story of modern urban life. The wide range of income levels and education, the issues of technology and the environment, and mix of cultures and gender identities, are among the current issues in our society. How could this be handled with dignity and fairness? I believe that each of us is seeking the good. My main character, Leila Payson, is a compassionate, thinking woman who takes on these issues. She doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses, but she also refuses to give up hope for the good in people.
In her twenties she works as a teacher in South Africa for a year. There she meets the amazing Baruti, an occupational therapist, who shows her the importance of “listening, respect, and patience.” Returning to her home in southern Miami, she finds a job as a high school social sciences teacher. She surrounds herself with people who will surprise and challenge her. She goes out into her own community as well, volunteering at a local playground. Over the years, she experiences her first great love, and suffers personal loss.
With her friends she enjoys concerts and festivals, but also the quiet reflection of solitary walks on the beach. At forty-something, though, she feels restless. She wants to be more, to do more. When she discovers one of her students is going deaf, she joins his support team and embarks on a pivotal journey that calls on everything she’s learned.
Along the way, she engages her friends and co-workers in her efforts, and earns both allies and rivals. And while she juggles work, family, and her friends’ adventures, a mysterious man with a book keeps appearing at her favorite places.
“In Miami Morning we meet Leila Payson and her unique friends. In the process we watch her weave her way through complicated romantic relationships, listen to the way she deals with the frustrations in her career, and see the beauty of Miami through Clark’s remarkable descriptions. But it is Leila’s discovery of purpose that brings magic to this novel.” Steve Lindahl
“Miami Morning showcases Ms. Clark’s ability to effectively construct an enticing narrative with intelligence, conscience, and poetic observation and reflection. Her writing is grounded, but has room for mystery, even kismet.” Leila “gives the novel its heart and spirit, and is someone I immediately engaged with and cared about.” Diane M. Denton
“Teaching is, as Mary Clark clearly informs us in her novel, not simply a job but a vocation, a calling that requires a special awareness of society and of the community that is required to raise a child. Here is a well-deserved paean to those who make a difference.” Ken Weene