Writer of YA, mainstream, and contemporary fiction. Shackled by RSIs. Published five stories anyway. Still writing. Admin at AlzAuthors, cross-blogging weekly to raise awareness of Alzheimer's and the dementias. Eclectic reader and book promoter. Follow my adventures in publishing.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Following the Footsteps of My Characters
Last week my family and I had the unexpected opportunity to spend a few days in Provincetown, Massachusetts and of course we jumped on it. Cape Cod in July is one of the best things in life and the four wheeling out at the National Seashore is fantastic. As I went about making my plans and packing the Jeep I remembered that this little seaside village, the most happening place on the Cape, is more than just somewhere for me to have fun in the sun with my family: it's the setting for some very important scenes in Blue Hydrangeas, which takes place on the Cape in the fictional town of Falmouthport.
Aerial view of Provincetown
When I first set out to write this novel in 2002, I didn't have much of a plan. In fact, I originally thought I'd have Jack whisk Sara away to their former home in upstate New York to escape their problems. The idea to send them to Provincetown came as an epiphany - what better place to run away to than the "end of the earth"? Provincetown is the farthest point at the very tip of Cape Cod, right where the "hook" ends. It seemed perfect, and so the plot thickened, as they say, and I created their whole back story in Truro and P'Town. That's when things really started happening and the story took off. In this photo we see P'Town in all its glory, the Pilgrim Monument right of center, MacMillan Wharf, and the Cape's tip in between the harbor and the ocean.
I had vacationed in P'Town and Truro (the town next door) many times over the past 20 years and knew the area well, but, as I'm a stickler for accuracy, I just had to go back for "research purposes" several times over the years to make sure I got it all right. I decided to make
this vacation a bit of a "working" one too, to do some promotion and marketing as well as make sure once and for all "I got it right." (This is just an author's technique for justifying a beach week when there's work to do.)
On our seven hour drive, we listened to the story on audiobook, the first time Lou and Allie heard Elinor Bell's lovely reading. As we entered the lower Cape it was exciting to hear the book come alive on the very roads in which it takes place, passing sites familiar to Jack and Sara, like the Wellfleet Drive-In and the turnoff for Corn Hill. The photo on the left is of Corn Hill Beach, with the houses overlooking the cliffs and beach, just as I remembered and wrote about. Of course, I Google-mapped the area many times to verify it's location and the route Jack drove to get them there.
Each day during our stay we went four wheeling at High Head or Race Point Lighthouse, and then into town for dinner, following Jack and Sara's footsteps, imagining what they did and where they went. We parked in the lot at MacMillan Wharf and got dinner at the Lobster Pot, like they did. After dinner, we strolled past the many art galleries, peeking in the windows, taking turns asking, "Is this where Sara went?" It was great fun experiencing our visit through their eyes. In the photo on the right, Allie and Lou peruse
the menu outside the Lobster Pot, a P'Town tradition we make sure to
take in whenever we're in town.
Provincetown Book Shop
This was my first trip to P'Town with the finished book, and I brought along several
paperbacks to donate to the local libraries and market to the Provincetown Book Shop. These folks were happy to hear about my book and gratefully accepted copies. It's now available in the section for Cape Cod Fiction at the book shop and through all Cape Libraries (except Sandwich) via CLAMS (Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing).
They say books can take us away to lands unknown and worlds that may exist only in the author's imagination. Books can also bring us to places we've experienced or dream of one day experiencing. It took many years for me to write this novel and many more to see it published. The most delightful part of writing it was creating the beautiful town of Falmouthport, which exists only in my mind but is the quintessential Cape Cod town. Situating its dramatic climax in the all too real setting of Provincetown also heightened my enjoyment in writing it, and allowed me to show this colorful, one of a kind town to readers who may not have known it existed.