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!
The Island House is about two young women with secrets that will change their lives during one summer on Nantucket. Some of it was inspired by my own personal experience. I grew up in Kansas, for example, and I fell in love with a man on Nantucket—and I’ve lived here with him for 32 years. I hope I’ve written a fun summer book and a book that shows no matter how eccentric we are, love and belief in the power of love save the day.
A minor theme in The Island House is bipolar illness, or manic-depression. I wrote about a person who is bipolar because the gene is caught, like a glittering twisted thread, inside my own family’s genes. I wanted to show someone who is brilliant and healthy and successful in spite of being bipolar. I wrote about a complicated, loving, happy family who has learned to deal with a bipolar son/brother. The illness is part of the Vickerey family’s life, and if you’ve read The Island House, you know this family has several “normally eccentric” members. Don’t all families?
I’ve talked to a lot of knowledgeable people, and I’ve done some research. One thing I’m sure of is that being bipolar doesn’t come in a one-size-fits-all condition. The range of how a person’s mind is affected by bipolar illness is wide and varied.
The most significant book about being bipolar is An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. Dr. Jamison is professor of psychiatry and bipolar. Her book is informative, breathtaking, and wise. She also wrote Touched with Fire, Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, and the poet Byron were manic-depressive, and she discusses them and many other gifted artists.
Other resources for learning a fraction about this complex illness are The Melancholy Fate of Captain Lewis by Michael Pritchett, a brilliant and impressively researched novel about Meriweather Lewis, who led an expedition across America with William Clark, while suffering from mania and depression. Brandon and the Bipolar Bear is a children’s book for children suffering with bipolar illness. Infinitely Bi-Polar Bear is a movie starring Mark Ruffalo, about a father dealing with bipolar illness. The wonderful essay “I’m 18 and Bipolar and it doesn’t suck as much as you think it does,” by Theresa Gao is in the online blog Medium Daily Digest.
What inspires my writing?
Sometimes, my memory–and my diary, which I kept from the time I was 17.
I dated this slightly older, very handsome, and much taller man when I was 18. He was a cowboy/football coach, and the nicest man in the world. (I hadn’t met Charley yet.)
He was the inspiration for the Kansas cowboy Monty Blackhorse in The Island House.
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, I had a horse. This old photo of me with my horse one winter long ago helped me create Courtney, the Kansas girl who loves a cowboy.
Courtney comes to Nantucket, just as I did, and. . .well, she finds all kinds of love.
To preorder (it’s out May 31), click a link:
The Barnes and Noble site is not working at the moment.
I had a really good idea for a novel. What if a lovely divorced woman with a little girl marries a lovely divorced man with a little boy, and everyone’s happy until the children become teenagers. (I accidentally typed teenangers, which is sort of relevant.)
What if the girl accuses the boy of a terrible deed and the boy denies doing it? Who does the woman believe, her daughter or her stepson? Who does the man believe, his son or his stepdaughter? How does the family manage to stay together—or does it?
Phyllis Levy of Good Housekeeping, said about An Act of Love, “I just couldn’t put it down. It has the pull of a good suspense story; you really care about the characters. I couldn’t guess who was telling the truth.”
Writing this book was more difficult than I had dreamed it would be. I think I look sad in my cover photo. I was sad. When I write a novel, I’m living in that fictional world, and it can tie my stomach in knots. I admire the writers—Chris Bojalian, Jodie Picoult, Kristen Hannah, for example–who deal with the tough subjects and help us deal with the tough subjects.
In Between Husbands and Friends, I explored the secrets we tell our husbands, our friends, and ourselves.
Nantucket summers, so sensual, sunny, and carefree, inspired this book, just as a certain Nantucket summer inspired Lucy West to make a delicious mistake that leads to a multitude of complications. Secrets like this take place in every country, so it seems.
I wonder: have you ever had secrets you tell your husband but wouldn’t tell your best friend?
Have you ever had secrets you tell your best friend but won’t tell your husband?
The ereader cover of this book looks so mild, so domestic. But what does it mean that there are 3 pitchers there, instead of 4?