Boy meets girl in the years leading up to World War II.

Boy meets girl in the years leading up to World War II.

But to Carol Ann Ross, that subject at the heart her new book is not a run-of-the-mill love story. It’s also a love letter to Eastern North Carolina and its ecology, which she first experienced as a small child in 1955.

“When I grew up on Topsail Island, it was like having a private island,” Ross said. “It was magical. That was a time when it was innocent.”

The book’s title, “Days of Hairawn Muhly,” is a tribute to the seaside flora Ross remembers growing up next to on the Carolina Coast. Hairawn Muhly is a short, wispy grass that, according to the USDA, blooms in “striking pink and purple” during the autumn seasons. According to Ross, bulldozers have done a number on the plant and the dunes that she once observed from her backyard. Ross called the non-indigenous plant life coming up around the area “pretentious,” claiming that what comes naturally to Eastern North Carolina is fine enough.

“Every time I see one of those palm trees, I want to chop it down,” Ross said. “We need to quit destroying what’s already here. We have to appreciate (the Carolina Coast) for what it is.”

Ross says her book is a coming-of-age story, not only for the two main characters — a soldier stationed at Camp Davis in Holly Ridge and a 17-year-old girl native to the area — but for the Topsail Island area, as well, as the book starts in 1933 and ends in 1952.

“There were no people on the island before the base,” Ross said. “It was used for fishing and cattle…The base (built in 1940) almost came up overnight.”

Ross said she did about a year’s worth of research for the book, but that a lot of what she used came from growing up in the area. This will be Ross’s first fiction novel (she wrote three previous, historical books about rural Florida). Ross said that while writing this novel, she took cues from author John Steinbeck, who she said talked about “real” people. Ross said that when one writes a story, no matter how short or long, it’s essential that they get to the root of that person’s emotion and thought.

“When I write, I have to talk about how these people live and feel and work,” Ross said. “These are real people with real emotion.”

Ross said that every individual on Earth is another novel waiting to be opened.

“Every human being has a story to tell,” Ross said. “Every life is important.”

“Days of Hairawn Muhly,” is available on and can be downloaded onto Kindles. The book can also be store bought at Quartermoon Store in South Topsail Island, Mermaid’s Purse in Surf City, Surf City Gifts and Surfside Gifts. Ross also wants readers to know that the story told in Days of Hairawn Muhly won’t end with the last page.

“I’m working on a sequel called ‘The Trill of the Red Wing Blackbird,’” Ross said. “It should be coming out this spring … should turn out to be a trilogy.”