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

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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The Island House, #2

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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.

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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.

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The Island House

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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.

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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.

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Courtney comes to Nantucket, just as I did, and. . .well, she finds all kinds of love.

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To preorder (it’s out May 31), click a link:

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1101967048?tag=randohouseinc8662-20

The Barnes and Noble site is not working at the moment. 

Indie Bound
http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781101967041?aff=penguinrandom