Sheila Crispin Cook, mother of four young children and nationally renowned glassblower, bites off more than she can chew when she agrees to co-chair the Nantucket’s Children Summer Gala. Sheila is asked to chair the benefit, in part, because she is the former high school sweetheart of rock star Max West. Max agrees to play the gala and it looks like smooth sailing for Sheila-until she promises a “museum-quality” piece of glass for the auction, offers her best friend the catering job, goes nose-to-nose with her Manhattan socialite co-chair, and begins a “good-hearted” affair with the charity’s Executive Director, Lockhart Dixon.
Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman’s attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business, and high-powered social pressures. Elin Hilderbrand’s unique understanding of the joys and longings that animate women’s lives will make this her newest summer bestseller.
[Elin’s book is one of those included in Red Room’s Summer Giveaway! Check it out on my July 1 blog post!]
|Elin Hilderbrand, author of the best-selling “The Beach Club.”
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Listen to a longer version of Patricia Sheridan’s interview with Elin Hilderbrand
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Before the sun sets on another summer, it might be worth reading The Love Season by Elin Hilderbrand, author of the best-selling The Beach Club. Her fifth novel, The Love Season, is summer reading at its most intriguing, with food, friendship, love and death at its core. Ms. Hilderbrand grew up outside Philadelphia and went to Johns Hopkins University before marrying Chip Cunningham and moving to Nantucket, Mass. They live there year-round with their three children. Her next book, Barefoot, is expected in 2008.
Q: Do you find yourself listening to conversations as dialogue?
A: That’s a good question. Nobody’s ever asked me that. You know, I don’t. I hear dialogue, I hear dialogue when I’m writing. I hear dialogue in my head. But I never take it out of real life. It really doesn’t translate.
Q: Unrequited love is such an ancient theme. How do you bring it back to life?
A: Well, I’ll tell you what, everybody writes about the same things. That’s love and sex and death, but if you have characters that you can really get to know, it’s unique. So every story is different.
Q: Without giving away anything, there’s even a bigger story of unrequited love in the book.
Q: Were you comfortable with that story?
A: I was. I wanted to — there’s a relationship between two women that gets very complex at the end, and I really was striving for complexity in unrequited love between these two women or an inequality, really. One of them is more invested in one’s life than the other. And I really wanted to explore women’s friendship and the nuances and sort of push the boundaries. So was I comfortable with it? I was, and I wasn’t. I wanted to do something a little bit different, so that is what I was attempting.
Q: When you write, are you exploiting personal curiosities?
A: You know, I think I am. The first thing you do when you write is come up with your characters, and I really try and keep the character of Elin Hilderbrand out of it as much as I possibly can. It’s not about me, and it’s not therapy for me.
Q: Do you think “screenplay” when you are writing?
A: Oh, no. Some of my books are more cinematic than others. I think, when they’re finally optioned to the movies, whenever that happens [laughing], that they would gravitate to certain tales rather than others. “Love Season” is a very quiet book in that it’s in the past, and it takes place in the characters’ heads, and it’s about their emotions and their guilt and their healing.
Q: (Spoiler alert!) You wrote the book, so you must know what Candace was thinking before she got killed.
A: Very interesting question [laughs]. Very interesting question. Yes, well I do sort of know what she was thinking about when she was running. The question is: What does the reader think she was thinking about when she was running? It’s a real philosophical question. Do you think she was just oblivious? Or was she sort of consumed with her thoughts about Marguerite? Was she upset? Yeah, I think she probably was; yeah, I think she probably was agitated and upset.
Q: The other question, which is sort of left unanswered — we don’t know if she felt similar feelings and buried them. It’s never clear.
A: Candace felt enormously protective of Marguerite and almost wanted to be Marguerite’s mother, her sister, her caretaker. I think Candace actually understands Marguerite better than maybe Marguerite understands herself.
Q: Do you find that while you do not use friends and relatives in your books, they nonetheless are still looking for themselves in your characters?
A: You know, I worry sometimes. I have a very good friend who has certain things in common with Marguerite. Her name is Margaret. There are things about Marguerite that my friend has in common — not physical at all. It was very tricky. I wanted to make sure she understood it was fiction even though she saw certain elements of this character in herself. It gets very tricky if you put people who you care about in your life into your books, because they can take offense.
Q: How much fun do you have naming your characters — like Cade, Action, Renata, Dusty?
A: [Laughs.] You know, it’s always the first thing you do, really. I do a little outline and do some notes before I start writing a book and the names, I have to say, they just come to me. Now sometimes I will hear a name in conversation, and I’ll say, “Wow, that is a cool name. I’ll want to use it.” I like to have names that are different, because that’s how people can remember them. You know? In the case of The Love Season the one thing I wanted from Renata, is Renata means reborn. I wanted her to be a rebirth of Candace. Especially for Marguerite.
Q: There is that one extreme moment in the book where you discover somebody has branded herself. It was unexpected.
A: That’s funny, I couldn’t tell if it would come as a total shock or if it was clear from the beginning what she’s done. Everybody was totally shocked. I think the point being, she felt so incredibly guilty and she wanted to punish herself. She said once that killing herself was too easy. She wanted to take away the thing that was most important to her and so …
Q: And we will leave it at that, so people can discover it on their own.