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Door County Author Madonna Siles Reveals Local Surprises in Latest Book
By Steve Allen - Sponsored by Lakeshore Motorsports LLC
Sep 14, 2011 - 9:00:00 AM

Madonna Siles
As a youngster, Madonna Siles always wondered who lived in the cave at Cave Point, near Whitefish Dunes State Park. She and her family were tourists here for many years, and little Madonna took more than a passing interest in the opportunities to enjoy nature at its finest. That's what Door County is about, isn't it?

Siles' family lived in the Naperville area and fell in love with the natural beauty of the area. By the age of ten, Madonna was pretty sure there was someone living in the huge cave that is the venue's centerpiece and makes Cave Point such a wonderful destination all year round. If you've been there, you know how intriguing and mysterious this place can be. If it's windy, the ears are treated to an incredible chorus of sounds, with wide dynamic range. The boom of the waves crashing against the rock sticks with you. On a quiet day with no wind, the gentle lapping of water against the rocks is both eerie and immensely fulfilling to the soul.

"Searching for Surprise", Siles' latest book, is a whimsical, delightful, happy, emotional, and fanciful fantasy that takes place on the Peninsula. One of the two main characters is an artist and is probably the author herself. As an accomplished plein air painter, Siles has spent scads of time out in the field all over Door County, soaking in the beauty it offers and translating the sights and sounds and feelings she encounters onto the blank canvas. These themes are integral to the story she weaves, which center around a painter and her most unusual experiences one spring and summer.

Departing from the traditional whiteboard approach, Siles the artist starts with a black canvas, and it comes alive with color and whimsy in a sort of soft impressionistic style with more than a hint of Van Gogh. A careful observer may detect a bit of black showing though from the background in tiny places, perhaps creating a bit of mystery or surprise. Soft colors that blend together well further create a sense of warmth, energy, and inner peace. No wonder the subtitle of the book is "The Secret Energy of Door County".

"Cherry Blossoms Aglow", oil pastel by Madonna Siles.
Cathedral Rock near Sedona, Arizona. Courtesy Wikipedia.
"I've always been a words and pictures person", Madonna explained as we chatted over an awesome and aromatic cup of coffee at Glas Coffeehouse in Sturgeon Bay, where her book is displayed and sold. Indeed, unlike most artists, Siles is a career wordsmith as well. She spent a number of years behind a pencil doing copywriting at various ad agencies in Chicago, putting words and slogans to pictures of exciting things like widgets. And when there were words that begged for an illustration to be used in an ad, she quickly sketched it. But nothing she encountered in the marketing business captured her spirit quite like the Door County outdoors. She simply had to return there someday to live.

There was then a period of time when she lived in Sedona, Arizona, and Siles was pleasantly held captive by its famous energy vortexes. She was a frequent pilgrim to the many well-trodden locations where folks feel uncommon energy. Never been there? Here's some info.
Sedona has a "pull" for tourism that centers around the gorgeous scenery and unique rock formations. Might Door County also have a similar phenomenon that emanates from the Niagara Escarpment? Might this help explain why people refer to the "magic of Door County"? Is there something about the huge mass of mostly dolomite limestone that keep locals here as their forever homes and inspires tourists to return year after year?

"Ridges Beach Trail", oil pastel by Madonna Siles.
Cave Point. Anybody home? Photo by Steve Allen.
"Searching for Surprise" is a quick and easy read that whisks the reader into a time warp. There's a touch of sci-fi here as main character Callie comes to Door County, lives in the cave at Cave Point, but is actually visiting from the year 3012. She's here on a mission. There's not much creativity or emotion left in that future period. She's been sent to the past to find out how to recapture it.

This 77-page novella is simple, charming, and full of wonderment. Siles' unpretentious and casual writing style draws the reader right into the story, placing you right there alongside the two major characters of the story, Callie and Em.

So what's the surprise? Are there really energy spots in Door County? Here are some hints ... Cave Point, The Ridges Sanctuary, Rock Island's Inspiration Point. There are more surprises, but you'll have to read the book!

Siles' book is due out in November, but advance copies are available at various locations in Door County, including Glas. Or, visit the author's website at:

Door County Surprise

You can also order the book on our Door County Online Store site.
Click on the title in the boxes below. We receive a tiny commission for sales, and all of it goes to the Door County Humane Society to benefit our homeless friends.

Other books by Madonna Siles:

This article sponsored by:

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