Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE THING IS - Reviews

Reviews are pouring in for THE THING IS, a story about a therapy dog named Prozac who rescues a woman in grief. Take a glance at what a few readers and book bloggers have had to say about the novel:

"A story brimming with humor and heart, and an ending that's as unexpected as it is satisfying." -- Claire Ashby, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of When You Make it Home

"A truly humorous twist on the issue of human frailty interacting with animal charm...offers a new take on grief recovery, which is both lighthearted and insightful!" -- Trudie Barreras, Amazon "Vine Voice" Top Reviewer

"Kathleen Gerard captures the powers of caring, connection, and resilience...Prozac, the book's funny and wise canine hero, helps humans of all ages overcome their losses and grief, find happiness and adventure, and renew their joy in live and love." -- Susan Sipprelle, award-winning documentary filmmaker, Tree of Life Productions (Over 50 and Out of Work; Set for Life; Soldier On: Life After Deployment)

"Kathleen Gerard is a sterling storyteller who held my heart in her hands from start to finish. I recommend The Thing Is to anyone who is a pet lover (or not) and to anyone who is grieving or facing the unknown. The Thing Is brings hope, happiness, and new beginnings. This is my BEST read this year!" -- Pat Pascale, Fresh Fiction

"Is this an endearing book about a dog? Yes. But it's more than that. The devastating ache of loss throbs through its pages from beginning to end. Even though the story is tempered with a good dose of humor and tail-wagging cuteness, be prepared - it's an emotional read with a capital E !" -- Nicole Langan, Scranton Book Examiner

"If you love books that have a strong story with a tad of humor thrown in, then you need to pick up this little gem...Everyone needs a little Prozac in their lives!" -- Barbara Briggs, "Booker T Farms"

"I teared up, I smiled...A great book everyone should read!" -- Kelly Smith, "Kelly Smith Reviews"

"Totally lovely, heartwarming and hilarious...Some moments left me in tears, some moments made me laugh, and other moments touched deep into my soul." -- Elle, "Pretty Little Book Reviews"

To read all of the reviews link HERE

is available for purchase wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Link HERE to purchase the novel


Sunday, April 10, 2016

This Was Not the Plan

Charlie Goldwyn--a widowed, white-collar litigation attorney--narrates the novel, This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger. Unable to cope since the death of his wife, 33 year-old Charlie buries himself in work. This leaves the rearing of his five-year-old son, Caleb, to his "laid-back hippie of a sister," Zadie, who is a steadying force for Charlie and quirky Caleb, who likes to dress in girls' clothing. 

"There are things in life that are more important than work," one of the bosses tells Charlie, who is up for partner at the high-powered Manhattan law firm. When overworked and overtired Charlie is roped into attending an office cocktail party, he drinks too much and goes off on a loose-tongued tirade about his job and the back-breaking sacrifices he's made for the firm, only to have the incident captured on video by a competitive coworker. The video goes viral, and Charlie is fired—suddenly forced to navigate the world as a stay-at-home-dad and reconnect with his son, while fighting to get his job back. But is returning to the firm what's best for Charlie—and for Caleb?

As Charlie plots his next move, he struggles with grief and the new realities of his life, including his own parental and social inadequacies and the strained relationship he's endured with his own father. Alger (The Darlings) piles problems on her empathetic protagonist in a lively, entertaining way, while presenting a cast of appealing characters faced with the stresses and challenges of contemporary parenting. 

This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger
Touchstone, $26.00 Hardcover, 9781501103759, 240 pp
Publication Date: February 2, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (2/17/16), link HERE

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


interviewed me about
the story-behind-the-story 
To read the Q&A, link HERE
Pleased to report...THE THING IS is now available as an ebook (in all formats) and in print (via Amazon).

In the days/weeks ahead, THE THING IS will also be available for purchase in bookstores everywhere!

                Link HERE to buy the book

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Katarina Bivald: Books--The Scent of Unread Adventures

The Writer's Life

photo: Cecelia Bivald
Swedish author Katarina Bivald can't remember a time when she wasn't reading. She claims to have always turned to books "for company, support and inspiration," and she grew up working in a bookstore. Therefore, it's fitting that her passion for the printed word and reading wove their way into her first novel, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (in paperback from Sourcebooks Landmark; see the review below). The story centers on a young Swedish woman, a bibliophile, who travels to a run-down Iowa town to visit her book-loving pen pal, only to be met with townsfolk who underestimate the power of books and reading.
Why and how did you become a writer?
I always dreamed about writing a book. But somehow or another, I never gave it any serious effort. When I was 25, after I finished university, I took a job and worked for 10 months to save up some money. Then I spent a month writing full time while traveling around Ireland. It was a great way to get to know my characters.
The truth is, for a long time I never expected this book to be published. I just wrote it as a trial run; writing a complete draft, from Chapter 1 to The End, in order to learn how to write. It didn't have to be good, it would never be published. I just wanted to take any idea and finish it. Since I only wrote it for myself, I decided to fill it with everything I love in books: small American towns, quirky characters, unexpected friendships, love--and books, of course.
Why did you set the novel in the United States?
The best thing about writing a book is that you get to make things up... so it was fun to set things in a small town in Iowa rather than in my own suburb outside of Stockholm. Books should provide some escapism even for the writers. The name of the town, Broken Wheel, came to me one day, complete with the entire history of the town. When I wrote the book, I had never been to Iowa, had never even visited the U.S. But in a way you could say I had grown up there, with Fannie Flagg and Annie Proulx and Louisa May Alcott.
At one time you worked in a bookstore.
Yes, but the bookshop I worked at in Sweden was nothing like the bookshop I created in the town of Broken Wheel. In the bookstore where I worked, I spent most of my time trying to read in secret--and sniffing books, of course. It was there I discovered how different books smell. They all share the scent of unread adventure, but there are differences as well: paperbacks smell different from hardcover, English paperbacks smell different from Swedish; classics different from chick-lit, and chick-lit different from crime. School books have their own very distinct scent of forced reading and boring days spent locked in a classroom.
Did you know from the start this novel would be about the power of books and community?
Yes, definitely about the power of community, although the link between books and community took me by surprise. When I started writing the book, I thought working in a bookshop was all about the books. I considered customers a rude interruption in my reading. But when I looked back on all those years in the bookshop, I realized it was actually the people I remembered, which got me thinking about what a bookshop can do to a town and a community that's struggling, failing.
The story is anchored by pen pals. Did you ever have a pen pal?
Nothing that I managed to keep up for any length of time, but I have often lamented the dying art of letter writing. And I have received a touching amount of real letters from people who've read The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, including some who've kept up a correspondence with me for months. It's one of the most fun things about having written a book.
Who, in your own life, shares your love of books?
I share my love of books with everyone in my life, whether they like it or not. I have no friends, no lovers, no acquaintances, no family members, who haven't, at one time or another, received a book as a gift from me. Although I'm not sure whether they consider it a gift or a threat ("do tell me what you thought about it").
Do you have any favorite books about books?
I love books about books! Some of my favorites are: Dewey--The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicky Myron (the reason my book is set in Iowa--who wouldn't want to write a book set in a state that once had a library cat?); 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (the touching exchange of letters between a formal, rather stuck-up English bookseller and a very much less formal American woman); The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (very impressive title).
How have books changed your life?
Sometimes I think books are the reason I'm still single. Having once fallen in love with both Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet (being a bisexual book lover is a curse), it's very difficult for real people to measure up. Not to mention, real life. It's so... unstructured. God has a lousy sense of plot development.
Your novel has already sold 50,000 copies in Sweden and France and will be published in 25 countries.
Yes, it's been quite a journey. For a long time, I wasn't even sure if it would be published in Sweden, so I never imagined the story or the people in it reaching so many countries. It's a somewhat bizarre thought, that my book has traveled much farther than me. 
Has writing this novel, and having it so well received, changed you?
I write full time now, that's the most obvious change. But a more far-reaching change is that I've discovered how unsettling it is to fulfill dreams so very thoroughly. I'm still not used to it. Truman Capote wrote in Answered Prayers about occasions where you don't sacrifice a talisman: "When you have nothing and when you have everything--each is an abyss." So it's been strangely unsettling but, most of all, incomprehensible, in a fun, refreshing sort of way. It has made me experience things I had never even imagined, and as I get older, I find truly strange experiences surprisingly rare. 
Are you writing another book?
I am indeed. My second novel was published in Sweden this year, called Life, Motorcycles and Other Impossible Projects. It's about a single mother whose idea of time shifts when her only daughter moves to a different town to study. Eventually she starts taking motorcycle lessons, gets involved in an impossible project, falls for her motorcycle instructor (even more impossible) and eventually discovers just how complicated dreams and freedom can be.
My third book is much more unclear. At the moment, it's taking place in a fictional town in Oregon, so now when I look outside the window I see not the tiny Swedish pine trees, but the more magnificent Oregon ones.
Note: This interview is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this Q&A as originally published on Shelf Awareness (1/19/16), click HERE

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

When 28 year-old Swedish bibliophile Sara Lindqvist loses her job in her hometown bookshop, she travels to Broken Wheel, Ia., to finally meet and visit with her book-loving pen pal, Amy Harris. Upon her arrival, Sara is heartbroken to learn that the 65 year-old bibliophile has recently died.

Encouraged to stay on by the good-natured residents of the struggling rural town (population 637), Sara takes up residence in Amy's now vacant house. 
Sara and Amy shared a belief that books are better than real life. But once Sara settles amid the charms, rhythms and personalities of Broken Wheel, she begins to wonder if the stories of those who live in this small town might be as compelling as books.

Friendship and kindness are offered to Sarah via a colorful cast of characters including owners of the local diner and bar, a reformed alcoholic mired in grief, a buttoned-up churchgoer living a double life, the standoffish owner of the hardware store, quirky members of the town council and a dreamy-looking, long-time resident, set in his ways, who may actually hold romantic feelings for the Swedish newcomer.

When Sara decides to honor the memory of Amy by setting up a makeshift bookshop featuring all the books she and Amy loved--classics from Little House on the Prairie to Bridget Jones's Diary--she draws townsfolk to the neighborhood hub. Might Sara's quest bring Broken Wheel back to life? Katarina Bivald's feel-good first novel explores how books and reading have the power to reinvigorate stagnant lives and communities.

Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.00 Paperback, 9781492623441, 400 pp
Publication Date: January 25, 2016
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (1/16/16), link HERE

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dear Mr. You

In her inventive, unconventional memoir, Dear Mr. You, award-winning actress Mary-Louise Parker offers glimpses into her life via 34 letters written to and about significant men in her life, showing how masculine presences--fleeting, long-term and imagined--have influenced her, for better or worse.

The letters range widely in subject, form and tone. Most pay homage to family, as in "Dear Grandpa," which tells the story of Parker's grandfather and a creative act of love he undertook to brighten a son's dark days during World War II. In "Dear Daddy," Parker writes longingly of her father, his war experiences and how an injury sustained in battle changed his life--and Parker's.

Other letters are odes to--or denunciations of--lost loves, sexual exploits and long-ago intimacies. Tenderness and sensitivity gravitate to the fore in a letter about Parker's short-lived friendship with a man battling cancer. She writes an affectionate portrait about the two-way street of friendship, and humbly recalls meeting the biological uncle of her adopted, Ethiopian-born daughter. In "Dear Future Man Who Loves My Daughter," Parker admiringly glances back at the protectiveness of her own brothers when she was growing up. The men at the center of each letter often serve as mirrors, reflecting much about Parker and those who populate her world.

Whether writing to NASA, poets, musicians, a goat facing castration, an ash-covered firefighter on 9/11 or doctors, Parker's prose is infused with a perfect balance of sarcasm, humor and poetic language. Her letters shine with candid, self-aware depth--unabashed in revealing the truth of her own nature and experiences. 

Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
Scribner, $25.00 Hardcover, 9781501107832, 240 pp
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (11/24/15), link HERE

This review was also featured (in a longer form) on Shelf Awareness: Book Trade (11/3/15). To read the longer review click HERE


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Bridges Burned: A Zoe Chambers Mystery

Zoe Chambers is a paramedic and deputy coroner who works hard "to find answers for the dead" in Vance Township, a tight-knit Pennsylvania farm community. In her first two books, Circle of Influence and Lost Legacy, Zoe tracked the killer of a prominent town board member and investigated the suicide of a local farmer. In book three, Bridges Burned, Zoe stops a man from re-entering his burning house in an attempt to save his wife. When the raging fire proves fatal, Zoe empathizes with the grieving, homeless, unemployed widower, Holt Farabee, and his ten year-old daughter, Maddie. She offers lodging to the pair in the dilapidated 1850s farmhouse she shares with her aging, infirm landlady. In exchange, Holt, who has handyman skills, agrees to do odd jobs.

Zoe soon forges a bond with Holt and identifies with Maddie, as Zoe lost her father when she, too, was a young girl. But when Police Chief Pete Adams--a man whom Zoe has kept at a romantic arm's length for years--learns of the living arrangement, he's not pleased as his investigation is harvesting suspicions about the deadly fire and Holt's past. When Pete tries to caution Zoe, she refuses to listen. Might Zoe's stubbornness lead to further peril? 

Small town dynamics color a suspenseful, well-plotted storyline rife with red herrings that reveal how seemingly mundane lives are much more complicated and connected than first believed. But it's Annette Dashofy's likeable heroine--her vulnerabilities and deepening challenges--that makes for another winning installment in this series.

Burning Bridges by Annette Dashofy
Henery Press, $14.95 Paperback, 9781941962398, 288 pp  
Publication Date: April 7, 2015

To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (4/10/15), link HERE

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Let's Be Less Stupid: An Attempt to Maintain My Mental Faculties

It's not easy growing older, but for Patricia Marx, the decline of the mind provides fodder for a smart, often laugh-out-loud exploration of the human brain—"the three-pound wrinkly glop of glopoplasm in your skull" that contains "about a hundred billion neurons." In Let's Be Less Stupid, Marx--a curious, comic writer and contributor to Saturday Night Live, The New Yorker and the author of Starting from Happy--presents a candid, loosely structured memoir about her four-month mission to better understand, sharpen and boost her brain, which she claims is, "the size of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's fist, the consistency of flan, and weighs as much as a two-slice toaster." She states, "if you were a plastic surgeon, you'd say my brain needed a facelift."
Marx believes the modern world inundates minds, especially hers, with an overabundance of information--"the shoe size of my ex, the names of Sarah Jessica Parker's children, the calories in cottage cheese"--and, with age, the brain becomes a clogged think tank where "our cerebrums are filled with more facts than are contained in all the editions of Trivial Pursuit." Thus, she sets out to examine and test ways of transforming and rejuvenating her "ol' noggin'." She offers a trove of neuro-knowledge factoids and clever self-help strategies fortified with statistical data, word problems, quizzes, brainteasers and "Middle-age Mad Libs"; graphics, doodles, photographs and charts; physical and nutritional enhancements, medical tests and meditations. These accoutrements illustrate, reinforce and/or dispute theories Marx encounters amid her hilariously sophisticated, often literally mind-boggling, "get-smart" crusade.

Twelve Books, $22.00 Hardcover, 9781455554959, 208 pp
Publication Date: July 14, 2015

To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (7/30/15), link HERE 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Saturday Evening Post: Great American Fiction

I am pleased and honored that one of my short stories received honorable mention in The Saturday Evening Post: Great American Fiction Contest. The coordinators of the prize--Steven Slon and Patrick Perry (editors of The Saturday Evening Post magazine)--have compiled the top selections and assembled them in one collection entitled, Best Short Stories from The Saturday Evening Post Great American Fiction Contest 2016

My story, "Affentity," which is featured in the collection, takes place in 1922 and is about the relationship between an impressionable young girl and her bootlegging, spiritually challenged grandfather.
To learn more and to order the anthology link HERE

Happy Reading...Enjoy!

The Saturday Evening Post Society, $3.99 ebook, B01A05K7RU, 402 pp
Publication Date: December 29, 2015
To order this book link HERE

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favorite Reads of 2015

As a writer for Shelf Awareness, I read and review at least three titles per month. Plus, I also read books for my own pleasure (although there is never enough time!)  Below are some of my favorite reads from 2015:


Act of God by Jill Ciment: The premise of Ciment's novel may seem zany--a fungus overtakes Brooklyn and affects the lives of two elderly sisters--but the absurdity serves to offer insights into the human condition in the modern world.
Crow Fair: Stories by Thomas McGuane:  Montana is McGuane's terrain, and this master of the short story form tackles the quirky bonds of friendship and family with a wry, comic edge and a host of "surprise" endings.
Days of Awe by Lauren Fox:  Fox's novel, infused with wit, centers on a woman's sudden death and how it challenges her best friend to reassess the meaning of her life, her marriage, motherhood and the possibility of a second chance at love.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart:  This imaginative, historical-based, true-crime novel takes place in Paterson, New Jersey in 1914 and is about three sisters (one of whom was a female sheriff) who took on the Mob...and all that that entails!
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee:  If this novel truly reveals Lee's original intent--before it was rewritten for more commercial, mass appeal as To Kill a Mockingbird--then this pared-down story about a woman confronting racial intolerance and discrimination in her Southern hometown and in her family shines on its own merit.
Like Family by Paolo Giordano: This short, beautifully written novel, translated from Italian and inspired by real events from the author's life, is a gentle, moving story about an older woman who becomes a nanny and confidante to a family of three and how her presence changes their lives.
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf: It's never too late to love...In this tender, understated, short novel, aging widowers--who have known each other for decades, but who live alone and have "no one to talk to"--form a deep bond of friendship and true intimacy that ultimately sparks controversy in their small town and amid their families.
Valley Fever by Katherine Taylor: Taylor delivers a bittersweet, entertaining story about a heartbroken, disillusioned young woman who returns home to a vineyard in Fresno, California in order to find herself—and untangle the vines of family and fortune.
The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes: Keyes' distinctive, clever brand of humor is in top form as her novel traces the life of an Irish beautician who is transformed by a mysterious illness and a charismatic neurologist who changes her life.
Boys in the Trees: A Memoir by Carly Simon: The Queen of Top Forty tells all about her life from childhood to family secrets, romances and even the creative inspiration behind her hit, "You're so Vain."
Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever: Cheever presents a riveting, well-conceived and well-balanced portrait about the history--good and bad--of one of America's favorite pastimes.
A History of Baseball in 100 Objects by Josh Leventhal: It's like visiting a well-conceived museum exhibit between the covers of a book...Leventhal presents a wide-range of interesting artifacts relating to every era of the game.
The Time of Our Lives: Collected Writings by Peggy Noonan:  Noonan is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, and this collection offers her reflections and impressions of life in the USA--and beyond--over several decades. Compelling food-for-thought for Conservatives and Liberals, alike.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout: In spare prose, Strout (Pulitzer Prize-winner for Olive Kitteridge) crafts a luminous, moving novel about a writer who looks back at pivotal experiences in her past that ultimately shaped her sense of self and her destiny.
Happy Reading in 2016!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas!


How would the world be different--beyond spirituality and religion;
in a cultural sense--if Jesus Christ had never been born?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Opinion/Editorial: "Other Views/ Guest Columnist" (Section A-13)

To read the article in its entirety, click on the highlighted title above

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Elin Hilderbrand: A Summer Novelist Tackles Winter

The Writer's Life

photo: Laurie Richards
Twenty-two years ago, Elin Hilderbrand sublet her Manhattan apartment where, after college, she'd been living and working in publishing and as a teacher, and spent the summer on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts. "The second my ferry pulled into the harbor I thought, I'm never going back (to New York)," she says. Ever since, this bestselling author has called Nantucket home, on the page and off--all of Hilderbrand's 16 novels are set on the island. Hilderbrand has been labeled "the Queen of the Summer Novel"; her fans expect a new book from her every summer, featuring ensemble casts of characters, the complexities of contemporary family life and romantic entanglements.

In 2014, Hilderbrand published her second novel of the year, Winter Street, a story about the Quinns, a large dysfunctional family that gathers on Nantucket for Christmas and faces unexpected surprises. In Winter Stroll (see my review below), Hilderbrand reunites the Quinn family as they face new familial complications and partake in holiday festivities particular to Nantucket.

Did you plan to write a Christmas series of books?
In the summer of 2013, my publisher, Little, Brown, had a book fall off their winter list, and they asked if I could write a Christmas book in four weeks. I said, "No!" But it got me thinking about Christmas novels, and I came up with the idea of the Winter Street Inn and the Quinn family. I knew I wanted it to be a trilogy, but it took the first book for me to convince my publisher.

Why should readers want to read your "Winter" series when they've grown so accustomed to your "Summer" novels?
The Christmas books give a whole new aspect to life on Nantucket. It happens to be one of the most charming places in America to celebrate the holidays. In Winter Stroll, I tried to incorporate the fun aspects of Nantucket's annual holiday festivities, including Winter Stroll Weekend, where Nantucket becomes a winter wonderland. At the Festival of Trees party, the Whaling Museum is all adorned and decked out, and island businesses and organizations decorate 100 Christmas trees. Nantucket restaurants and people--year-rounders and summer residents--dress up and kick off the Christmas season in style.

How did you create the Quinn family for the series?
I knew I wanted a large, blended family--a man with a wife and an ex-wife, with children by each. I myself have two older boys, then a girl. So I used that combination from my own life in the story, and I added the character of Bart, who is deployed to Afghanistan, to the creative mix. Bart is the son by the second Quinn wife.

Your books often juggle multiple story threads and characters.
Yes, I wait to see what my characters will do once I create them. It's always surprising.

Do you have a favorite character from the "Winter" novels?
Hands down, my favorite character is Kelley Quinn's first wife, Margaret Quinn, who is the anchor of the CBS Evening News. I love Margaret because she is a working mother and at the time that I started writing this novel, I was so absorbed with work that I suffered from mom guilt. I wanted to write a novel where the working mother came in to save the day, where the working mother was the hero.

In Winter Stroll, you mention that Ava (the music teacher) despises the Christmas song "Jingle Bells." Is this a personal dislike of yours?
All music is personal and our predilections are inexplicable. I hate "Jingle Bells." Hate it. I was able to vent this particular dislike in the character of Ava.

You've been writing two books a year. Is it hard to do?
Yes, it's an insane work schedule! I began writing two books a year with Winter Street. I have two down, one to go in the "Winter" series. And then I hope to reclaim my life and go back to one book a year.

Do you have a favorite novel among those you've written?
My favorite of recent novels is Summerland, which takes place at Nantucket High School. My favorite character is Hobby. If you want to understand why, you really have to read the book.

Which is the most difficult novel you've written?
Silver Girl, but in some way each novel gets progressively harder because my job is to write the same thing and yet something completely different. It's a tall order.

Have you ever had the urge to revisit characters from your prior novels?
Yes, I'm considering writing a murder novel called "N" and bringing back characters from the past 10 books.

You are a breast cancer survivor. Did that affect your writing?
The only connection between my cancer and my writing is that the writing kept me focused and occupied during a very trying time. I wrote The Rumor all throughout my illness, surgeries and treatment. I have to admit, I look back and I can't believe I kept going.

You graduated from the "literature-based" writing programs at Johns Hopkins and the University of Iowa. How did you come to write commercial women's fiction?
I wrote short stories while at Iowa. When I graduated, however, it was pretty clear there wasn't really a market for stories. I needed to write a novel, and I wanted to write one set on Nantucket. From there came my idea for my first published novel, The Beach Club--and the modern beach book was born. I don't think in terms of literary or commercial. I think of writing about people and the place that I love better than anywhere on earth.

Do you think you'll ever write a novel not set in Nantucket?
My novels will always be set primarily on Nantucket, although the one I'm writing now is also set in New York City, Kentucky and L.A. And on deck... a novel about Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.

Would you be willing to offer readers a glimpse into your next "Summer" novel?
Sure. It's called Here's to Us, and it's about a very famous, very successful and very tormented Manhattan chef who kills himself on page one. His three ex-wives and their children come to Nantucket to the house he impulsively bought in order to spread his ashes.

Note: This interview is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this Q&A as originally published on Shelf Awareness  (10/23/15), click HERE