Daddy's Christmas Angel



When artist/writer Mary Montague Sikes first visited Jamaica, she has no thoughts of writing a book set there. But the bright tropical colors and the sweet, perfumed scents inspired her. The landscape all around called to her. With a 35 mm camera dangling around her neck, she climbed rocks and trails to photograph Dunn’s River Falls and the vibrant scenery. Back home in her Virginia art studio, she created a series of large acrylic paintings that she named, “Tropical Fantasies”. Thirteen of these artworks went on to decorate lobbies, halls, a swimming pool and other areas of the Richmond Marriott when it first opened. Her initial Caribbean experience was documented by art, but Jamaica called for her to return for more adventures. And she did, many times. As a travel writer, she met a young hotelier who because he liked her artwork transported her all over the island by car and by airplane to create pastel paintings for each of his affiliated resorts. It was quite a learning experience for her and for her husband who traveled with her. Her love affair with Jamaica was sealed. The travel articles she wrote when she returned home were published in newspapers across the country and in magazines, including the BWIA Sunjet. On a return visit, the pastel paintings she created at home were delivered for their new Jamaican displays.Somewhere along the way, she visited Rose Hall Plantation and grew fascinated with the tale of Annie Palmer, the white witch of Rose Hall. That excursion started her thinking, “What if?”. What if a love lost over 200 years ago could be revived in the present day? Would that love be lost again, or were lessons learned long ago enough to create love found? Sikes’ fascination with a simple love story and her desire to study more about reincarnation in the works of University of Virginia scientist, the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, led to the writing of her novel, Hearts Across Forever.

A professional artist with a MFA in painting, Monti teaches artist workshops and classes. Besides her interest in painting, she loves to travel, follows baseball, takes fitness classes, and enjoys her family of three adult daughters. Monti and her husband reside in a little Virginia town situated on three rivers accessed by two beautiful bridges.