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IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD ‌ Mary Alice Monroe of Isle of Palms

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"We are witnessing, everywhere along the coast, an incredible influx of people — both people moving here to become residents as well as the increase of tourism. What concerns me, as much as it is wonderful to have visitors and people moving here, is that there's a balance between increasing population and trying to maintain what it is people are moving to the Lowcountry for.

"I don't know that we're winning this battle. Even here, on Isle of Palms, a great number of small houses, residential homes, are being torn down. The huge houses being built on those lots are predominantly going to be rentals. The balance between rental and residence in any community changes its nature. Sullivan's Island has taken a much stronger stance to limit rentals and remain a residential island. I hope that Isle of Palms will take a similar stance.

"We need to — as a community, as a state — look at our coast, especially in light of offshore drilling, which is a huge threat — huge.

"When I came here, it was a decision on my part to use environmental issues and settings — endangered species, for example — as metaphors to deepen the storylines of my novels.

"I believe that I can accomplish two goals. One is to be a storyteller and to have the Lowcountry come alive through the lives of my characters. But if I'm careful and judicious about how I use the material, I can educate the reader in a way that's not hitting them over the head with proselytizing knowledge. It's more an emotional story, a parable, so that people become engaged, and once they become involved, they act.

"What I am very excited about is that I have a children's book coming out as a companion to my next novel. When you see the children on the beach, they are so engaged, they have such curiosity. You want to take hold of that and instill a curiosity, a sense of responsibility, so when they become adults, they remember that." —as told to Jason A. Zwiker

About the Neighborhood: Isle of Palms is a barrier island, over six miles in length, naturally given to beauty and transition, accretion and erosion. It has long been a favored nesting place for loggerhead sea turtles.

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