The dream of being a race car driver is not unusual for little boys growing up in the shadow of the Daytona 500.
But it is unusual for little girls. New Smyrna Beach author Linda Mason is hoping to change that in her new book “A Shero’s Dream Catcher.”
The book, which was published July 5 by Taylor and Seale Publishing, tells the story of a girl in middle school named Lily who dreams of being a race car driver like her father. But to achieve her dream, she will need to stand up to bullies, break barriers, and believe that she has what it takes to be a “shero.”
While the book will primarily appeal to girls, boys aren’t left out. Danny, Lily’s older brother, has a dream, too. And he needs courage and support to make it a reality. Ms. Mason believes the book will inspire all young readers, regardless of their gender. But she especially hopes it will spark a dream in young girls. “Regardless of what the career may be,” she said, “they can do it and they need to strive for it.”
Ms. Mason drew upon her 18 years of experience teaching middle school in Volusia County when developing Lily’s story. She noticed not only that her female students were interested in careers she found unusual for young girls, but also the opportunities were there for girls who were willing to dream big.
She also drew inspiration from the women in her life who weren’t afraid to pursue big dreams, including her mother, a professional singer and songwriter who instilled in her a love of writing. As in the case of her main character, she found it’s often those closest to us, rather than the famous people in our culture, who inspire us the most.
“A Shero’s Dream Catcher” is the fourth book Ms. Mason has published with Taylor and Seale. This one involved a little bit of an education for her. “I knew little about racing, but was determined that this was the direction I wanted my book to go in,” she said. “I did an enormous amount of research.”
Those familiar with racing will notice something different about some of the race cars featured in the book: they’re solar racers, built to run entirely off of solar panels attached to the cars.
“I wanted to bring STEM activities into the book,” said Ms. Mason, referring to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs popular in middle schools. Her main character Lily is inspired by what she learns about environmental science to explore non-traditional forms of racing such as solar car racing.
Solar car racing challenges teams, which are often made up of engineering and technology students, to develop and race electric cars powered by solar panels that are attached to the car. The sport has been around since 1985 with the first competition in Switzerland. The fastest solar race cars today reach speeds of just over 55 miles per hour.
The book also features quarter midget racing, a form of automobile racing featuring smaller cars with traditional gasoline-powered engines that allow drivers from age 5 to 16 to race at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour.
Dr. Mary Custureri, president of Taylor and Seale Publishing, said she is thrilled to play a role in publishing a book that tells the story of a young girl achieving her dream, especially when that dream requires her to break cultural barriers.
“When I was teaching at the high school level years ago, no girl would think of becoming an engineer,” Dr. Custureri said. “But then, as the years went by, I kept seeing more and more women go into fields like engineering. It’s wonderful.”
She started Taylor and Seale in 2011 after retiring from her position as a professor of English at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Taylor and Seale’s authors include more than 200 writers from around the world. The company publishes fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry for readers of all ages. More information on Taylor and Seale, including information on submitting manuscripts, is available at taylorandseale.com.
Dr. Custureri also is president of the Daytona Writers’ Guild, a local group of writers, artists and musicians, who promote the arts in the Daytona Beach area.
“A Shero’s Dream Catcher” is available at amazon.com.