White Summer Dress
Tandor Press


Tom Sawyer - photo by Julianne Deery 2005

About the Author: Tom Sawyer is a pilot, author, and consulting engineer with 27 years in the industry and is a member of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers (IEEE). He spent 10 years with the Bell System and was a consultant to Intel Corporation for 11 years. He co-founded an organization that builds libraries for children in Mexico and currently designs water distribution systems in the US and the Caribbean.

In 1987, he started having visions of a woman he’d never met. Through a set of extraordinary circumstances he found the woman and her twin boys at a Huichol Indian ceremony. They were married in 1988. In 1991, he accepted a position as chief engineer and vice president for a world-class island resort in the Caribbean. He moved his family to Antigua, West Indies and hobnobbed with the rich and famous until discovering his wife, Mari had little time to live. It was after that, that he became inspired to write their story, “White Summer Dress.”

Dialog between readers and the author

  San Francisco, CA At one point, you and Mari moved to Antigua for your work rebuilding the infrastructure of a world-class resort after a hurricane devastated the island.  Here, you had the opportunity to live in the lap of luxury within Jumby Bay Resort and yet, you chose to live in a tiny shack amongst the native villagers.  Can you explain to us why you would make that choice?

Actually we moved to Antigua in 1991 and I was called out to restore the infrastructure on the island several years later. But to get to your main question, our decision to live in the fishing village of Parham was that life at Jumby Bay Resort was like putting in a quarter and going on a ride, life was choreographed, and life in Parham was real and sweet."

  Healdsburg, CA There are a number of spiritual revelations in the book; however, they seem to be secreted into the story rather than highlighted as so many other books of that nature have done; was that intentional on your part?

“Yes, in a way. . I really never intended for the book to be a lesson. The lessons that took place had to come out in the story for they were the very things that guided me."

  Guerneville, CA Do you feel that Mari has to give you the "OK" to pursue another relationship?

“She gave me permission before she passed on, she actually wanted to pick the woman out before she died, almost ten years ago. To be honest, I think two people coming together in Love has a lot to do with Grace, but one can't just expect the Goddess to someday knock on the door and walk in. I know I have to expose myself and be seen and understood to help the Universe in it's serendipity. I long for a mate where there is a since of home and the whole world with all it's excitement and trappings could go away and it wouldn’t matter, as long as we were together. Most people are not THAT satisfied with each other and require juice from the outside world to sustain their relationship.”

  Calistoga, CA Would you pick out the lessons, most important to you, that you have learned from this on-going adventure?

Tom Sawyer, "There are so many dispersed throughout the book. One of my favorites is jealousy - how this special kind of fear fragments the love between two people. However, my most important lesson came by being with my beloved in the “hard cold light of day,” as Gyanamata would put it. When Mari was dying and her body could no longer provide anything for me, through our humanness I was able to feel her presence beyond what made up her body. It was a lesson in unbearable compassion leading me to love in the face of complete loss. This lesson came in many magnitudes and continues in varying degrees to this day. This type of love is beyond just a state of mind, it is a substance like water; forever changing. I would reside totally in this place had I no fear."
  Guerneville, CA Why didn't you include more material about your first marriage and who that woman was?

Tom Sawyer, “That would be a whole other book and I really wanted to tell the story that took place between 1987 to 2001 although I drifted into the past some, but kept it mainly about Mari and I - our struggle to be as one in the midst of all that was going on and my survival afterwards.”
  Guerneville, CA How did you organize the material for the book?  Was it all through journals that you kept or what?

Tom Sawyer, “Most all our lives are "moments" surround by self-induced filler. I took a storyboard and hung it on my wall, listing the "moments" in an outline. This took several months. Then through our journals, letters, and pocket calendars I proceeded to write. Much of it was written sitting under an oak tree, long hand - a lot was written over the keyboard. The key for me was to outline the book first even though the string and the sting took me to places that did not appear on the storyboard.”

  Modesto, CA How exactly did Kathleen Brennan wind up on the back of your motorcycle? That's the only time you got vague. Give it up.

Tom Sawyer, "That will remain a mystery never to be told."

  Guerneville, CA Did you get help with the editing?

Yes, I wrote it first in Word, then created an 8.5" x 11" x 3" plastic bound manuscript that Mari's sister copy edited. I'm a very bad speller and flunked English, so you can see that she had a major task to complete, as well as, dealing with the emotions that came up for her through the loss of her sister. Then I printed 6 more manuscripts and gave them to neighbors and friends to copy edit. Then there was ten volunteers, I didn't know at the time, (people I would walk up to and ask out of the blue), who read the book a chapter at a time. Then Anila Manning, a professional editor spent 2 months with me going over things like, redundancy, flow, etc. Then I had fifty books printed at a local bindery and gave the books to people who agreed to read while feeding back typos. Then I printed 150 - more typo changes, then 500 - more typo changes, now 2000 (second edition with a new cover and forward).”

  Mill Valley, CA What do you think was special about your relationship with Mari that made it out of the ordinary?

Tom Sawyer, "Besides being initially infatuated with each other, our shadows selves seem to line up and there was a tremendous amount of mutual respect. I think part of it was we could be quiet together without feeling there had to be a lot of assurance communication. But mostly because we considered each other buddies, buddies first then lovers, then husband and wife. We liked hanging out together."

  Jamaica Tom, have you always been a romantic or would you even call yourself by that label?

Tom Sawyer, "I think I have always been a romantic, I can remember falling in love in kindergarten with the girl across the street and figured we would marry and live in a tree house in the woods."

  Santa Rosa, CA It was interesting to see the number of places and varied people both of you knew. I can see where your mutual likes could draw you together. How is it that you, who looks like a street person could be accepted so easily into all groups? And what was it about Mari that made her loved by so many people?

Tom Sawyer, "There is something inside of me that believes in the hearts of people and that's what I look for, I try to meet them at that level. As far as Mari, she was like a sparkler, you couldn't help but look. Then once they looked inside... people saw her spirit; generous, wild and beautiful like a flowered prairie...  It was not unusual for her to walk into a room and stop conversation. People would mingle to where she was at. I don't know how to explain it -- it was magical."

  Los Angeles, CA The book is written in the 3rd person, but it’s still a mystery to me who that person is, who’s telling the story?

Tom Sawyer, "I... the person who is telling the story, is my spirit. My spirit is the one who has observed my life and wrote the book. It was written in the way of Vipassana, "The way of the observer" Find a book on Vipassana meditation, it should give you some insight onto this path."