Creatives Q+A with the Authors of Saints of Old Florida

Nov 9 2016

by whitney long

In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative entrepreneurs we know online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits.  These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity.

In this case, my subjects wear many of these hats and can now add author to their resumes.  With their recently released book Saints of Old Florida,  friends Melissa Farrell, Christina McDermot, and Emily Raffield offer a beautiful glimpse into the magical spot on this Earth that they are blessed to call home.  The result is an exquisite collaboration by three creatives at different stages in life – 20s, 40s, 60s – but who all share a rich and heartfelt history with Old Florida as well as a passion for the Florida Panhandle in undiscovered areas of Port St. Joe, St. Vincent’s Island, Indian Pass, St. George Island, Apalachicola, St. Teresa, and St. Marks.

This coastal lifestyle book is filled with personal stories, endearing anecdotes, local contributions, family recipes and gorgeous photography. Their passion and knowledge of this often forgotten coast is expansive and comes to life on the pages of Saints of Old Florida.  These Southern creatives seem to have found Heaven on earth.

The Southern Coterie blog
Authors Melissa Farrell, Christina McDermot, and Emily Raffield.



What’s the book about and how did this idea come to life?

The book came to be after years of dreaming about it and two full years of heavy production to bring it to life. We knew one another through different avenues and years of friendship and collaborations so it naturally made sense to put our love for a rural, beautiful part of the Florida Panhandle together. All having a shared passion for place, beauty and story sparked the realization of what Saints of Old Florida would become — a large format book, filled with stories, memories and reverence for our home and rich with the things we consider to be classic Old Florida and the feeling that we hold close and wanted to preserve for generations.


What is your collective background – is this your first book endeavor?

This is our first book endeavor both together and individually. We all have different backgrounds, professionally and personally, that have been critical to bringing Saints of Old Florida to life. When collaborating on a project, focusing on individual strengths is important to bringing about an inspired and high-quality end result in the product.


What makes this part of the country book worthy?

This part of North Florida — that we lovingly consider “Old Florida” — is a rare gem among a coast of jewels. It’s a one-hundred-mile stretch where memories of days gone by still exist in daily life. Late nights around a beach bonfire, cooking the day’s catch for dinner, and talking for hours on a float in the Bay. Old Florida is rustic at first glance and artfully cared for at the next. People here love this coast and the towns along it for a reason and we all fight to protect that feeling that’s found here. Our home is a face of Florida that is rarely seen — we wanted to do it the justice it deserves. We wanted to bottle the things we love on paper.


With three of you involved, how did you break up duties/tasks?

MelissaThe initial phase of the collaboration was an outpour of creative thoughts and ideas from each of us. That’s the fun part that everyone loves… but we quickly learned that this project was way more complex than just the creative aspect. The book’s production involved a new task almost daily. Tasks were handled individually based on connection, interest, and strengths. One huge “pro” of collaboration was being able to take on individual tasks knowing we could rely on one another’s feedback at any time, helping to move the project forward a bit faster.

EmilyWe broke up many of the tasks (and there were SO, SO many!) based on what we were naturally talented at and what needed to get done. There are tasks that just have to be completed and those are typically different from the artistic, highly creative ones. …Something not everyone will tell you. We had to devise a way to all be very involved with each step, but move forward in a timely fashion and accomplish the goals we had in place.That is a challenge for any team, but we were eventually able to crack the code and build a cadence for individual and team work.

Christina: We each brought important individual strengths to the table. Once we realized our strengths, we each pursued them,  while working together on the overall dynamics of creating the final product. We met frequently and at our meetings, we’d all be able to report what was going on individually and what tasks needed to be handled as a team. It felt like we lived at one another’s houses and in our design room for months during the production. Granted, three women with different visions, creative minds and skills takes some work to find the right place for everyone and gel as a team.