She drew on her own life experiences to create this fictional story; Sleath owns a condo at Carolina Beach and was a single mom for a time.
“They say you should write what you know, and so I decided to kind of create this suspense-type novel that centers around this small beach town, and the characters were a lot of fun to develop,” she said.
The novel was well received by her friends and colleagues who were with her throughout the whole writing process.
“It was a very easy read,” said Becky Eatmon, retired executive assistant to the dean of the school of pharmacy. “I picked it up one day, and I didn’t put it down until I finished it. I’m waiting on the sequel. I told Betsy the other day, ‘OK, when’s the sequel coming out? I’ve got to find out what happened.’”
Hijrah El-sabae, a student in the school of pharmacy, was partially responsible for helping Sleath choose the cover of the book.
The two met at a meeting about an honors project, where Sleath immediately asked her opinion on which cover she liked the best.
“If I remember correctly, this was my first time actually meeting Dr. Sleath,” El-sabae said. “Actually, that’s why we ended up choosing her as our honors mentor because she’s so open and friendly and so casual about things and not intimidating at all like other professors.”
Sleath had to make the switch from writing scientific articles to fiction writing. She has published more than 120 scientific articles, but “Pelican Island Pharmacy” is her first work of fiction.
“My hardest time in fiction writing was learning how to write description because it’s the opposite of what I have to do in my scientific writing,” she said. “The books I like to read are fun and pretty easy to read and straightforward, so I tried to make the book like that.”
Sleath said she wrote five pages a week, the pace recommended in her class, which helped her finish the book within a year.
And after a year, she said that she is very proud of her accomplishment.