Welcome to my new blog

Hello, my dear friends,

I’ve decided to write a Blog! It’s going to be an intimate glimpse into my life as a woman writer. Sometimes it will include short stories or articles that are too long for my newsletter or Facebook posts. It won’t be in any special order, because the mind of a writer is an effervescent chaos of ideas. It won’t always be the same length. Sometimes there will be lots of photos. I hope you enjoy them!

Love, Nancy

OBSESSED WITH HOUSES?

             While writing this blog, I’ve discovered I’m obsessed with houses.

Island Girls is about three sisters who will inherit a Nantucket house IF they meet a certain stipulation in their father’s will.

A storybook house.  A house with many stories.   p10, Island Girls

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Heat Wave is about a young widow who turns her Nantucket home into a B&B.

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Summer House is about a wealthy family in a smaller version of this grand pillared mansion on Main Street.

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Maggie McIntyre’s life changes when her divorced mother marries a Nantucket native and moves them to his rambling old house on the moors.

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My last two novels were called The Guest Cottage and The Island House.

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In my novel Belonging, Joanna Jones is the host of a television show called Fabulous Homes.  She asks, What matters most in our home? Some people can describe it and have it built; others must find it.  Does one love a home because of the way the light comes through the windows or because of the view one has standing at those windows looking out?  The answer was always different.  p88, Belonging.

This cottage on the harbor inspired Moon Shell Beach.

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And a fine old Nantucket house plays a crucial role in my 2017 novel, Secrets in Summer.

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To learn more or purchase any of these books (except Secrets in Summer!), return to the home page of my website and click on “Books.”

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My husband & I welcomed the new century in with friends on the widow’s walk of this house. . .but that’s another story.

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ISLAND HOUSES

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Multi-talented Sara Prentice Manela made this wonderful map for me years ago, to show where special places in my book are on Nantucket.  So many of my books have a certain house at the heart of my story.  I think the last house shown here is from Island Girls. I’d better ask Sara to update it for me!

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The Island House is set in Sconset, a small village on the southwest tip of the island. A century ago, fishermen built small cottages with low roofs where they could spread their nets to dry.  Now these cottages make cozy summer homes.

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I’ve posted photos of these houses before, but I am always enchanted by their charm.

To walk down Broadway and Front Street is to take a step into the past.

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Except for the price. . .one of these little cottages rents in the summer for around $7200 a week.  Yes, a week.

Out of town, on the bluff facing the Atlantic Ocean, more modern houses stand, and it was a house like one of these that inspired The Island House.  You can see zig-zag steps down to the beach like the ones in my book.

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Sara made this map three years ago. I love it that she drew a whale off the eastern side of Sconset.  Next time, I’ll post photos of some in-town island houses.  Here’s one last Sconset house–with a whale weather vane.

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WHALES!

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I wonder how many public high schools have the skeleton of a whale hanging in the main hallway. Nantucket High School does. It’s much like the skeleton hanging in the Nantucket Whaling Museum, shown below. The one in the high school is too long for me to get on my camera.

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In the 1840’s, Nantucket got rich by killing whales and boiling down their blubber to make oil for candles and lanterns. Oh, and let’s not forget the whale bones that were used to make corsets to compress women’s waists.

An excellent book about Nantucket and whaling is Nathaniel Philbrick’s Into the Heart of the Sea, which was made into a movie of the same name.   And of course, there’s always Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick.

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In the mid-1800’s, other sources of fuel were discovered, and whaling, always a dangerous endeavor, ceased to exist, although not universally. When my son took me on a cruise into the Norweigan fjords, I saw several statues dedicated to the whales whose oil lit homes and provided food and other items to help people live.CIMG0257

 

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During the last century, research discovered that whales are intelligent, complicated, sensitive mammals. Humans have much to learn from whales. Because we’ve stopped killing them, whales have come to trust human beings, even to interact with us, even to like us. FB friend Jackie Bensley, who now lives in Arizona, sent me the following two photos taken when she was working on The Spirit of Endeavor in the Pacific. These are so much like what I’ve heard about and wrote about in The Island House, it took my breath away.

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My editor gave me a copy of the book Grayson, a contemporary true account of one woman befriending a baby whale while swimming in the Pacific.

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A few weeks ago, after The Island House came out, I was reading an excellent mystery called Little Black Lies by S.J. Boulton. It’s set in the Falkland islands.

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I got goose bumps when I read the following passage about a man and a woman  in a boat near Port Fitzroy in the Falkland Islands.

“Shhh. Did you hear that?”  He gets to his feet, squeezes around me and goes out into the cockpit. Puzzled, not sure whether to be alarmed or not, I follow and find him on the stern deck.

            The sound of the wind and the ocean. The sound of loneliness. The sound of distance from everything. Then something else. Something musical, beautiful, heartbreakingly sad.

            “They must be close.” The wave of sound dies away and I reach back inside the wheelhouse for binoculars.

            Callum is spinning slowly on deck, trying to locate the source. “I’ve never anything like it before. I thought whale song could only be heard underwater.”

            The sounds have gone for the moment, all we can hear is the rumble of the waves and the wind coming off the hills. “It’s unusual but it happens. There are stories of whales having conversations with people. Even with dogs.”

                                                            P 75, Sharon Bolton, Little Black Lies, 2015

             The man who joins Robin in my novel is named Callum.  I read this book six months after I turned The Island House into my publisher.  The world is an ocean of connections.

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Fairy tale

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It’s true, what Mitchell’s window says. Life is a wonderful fairy tale.

Not all the time, maybe, but sometimes, and so many times on Nantucket.

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This house on Fair Street is named Fairy Tale.

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So many houses on the island have fairy tale names.

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In Moon Shell Beach, when Clare and Lexi are children, they share a secret spot on the island, “their own fairy tale thicket, their fantasy world. They told no one else about the place. It was not just a place to them, it was a kind of reality, and a possession of a bond deeper than words could say.”MOON_SHELL_BEACH_new_11

Books are magical, transporting us to a childlike moment of wonder.

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I hope you all have a wonderful summer of magical books!

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