Title: One S’more Summer
Series: The Campfire Series
Author: Beth Merlin
Release Date: May 30th, 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction
If you love Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin, you’ll love this heartwarming debut from a fresh voice in contemporary chick-lit that offers a lighthearted and fun take on friendship, love, and how to recover from past mistakes.
For twenty long years, Gigi Goldstein has been pining away for her best friend’s guy. She knows it’s wrong and it has to stop, but she hasn’t been able to let go ever since they all met on the bus to summer camp back when they were 7 years old. The same week that her best friends finally announce their wedding date, Gigi loses her high-profile design job. With all of her dreams unravelling, she runs to the last place she remembers being happy.
Taking the Head Counselor position at Camp Chinooka, Gigi hopes to reclaim the joy she felt as a camper, but the job isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every scrap of the campground is laced with memories.
When Gigi finally realizes she can’t escape the present by returning to her past, she’s forced to reexamine her life and find the true meaning of love. But will she be able to mend fences and forgive herself before she loses her one real shot at happiness?
The Campfire Series
1. One S’more Summer—Releases May 30, 2017!
2. S’more to Lose—Coming December 2017!
Standing at the stop, waiting for the camp bus, I was amazed by just how little had changed in the almost fifteen years since I was a camper. To my left were the kids who couldn’t stop crying. To my right, the ones far too cool to stand anywhere near their parents. Then, of course, the most recognizable group of all, the teenage girls who stood sizing each other up to determine who would be their fiercest competition for male attention over the summer. I took a deep breath and pulled out the clipboard with the list of names of the campers who would be on my bus. I put the whistle I’d been given at orientation around my neck and pushed my way through the crowd of duffle bags, trunks, and families when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and found myself face-to-face with a girl younger than me, but definitely older than the surrounding campers.
“Are you the bus counselor?” she asked.
I nodded and extended my hand, which she didn’t shake.
“I’m Tara, your CIT,” she said coolly.
“CIT? Oh, right, my Counselor in Training. I’m Gigi, Head Counselor of the Cedar girls.”
“You look young to be head counselor. How old are you?”
I looked down at my outfit of jeans, Converse sneakers, and a Camp Chinooka Tee shirt. No wonder she thought I looked young. I couldn’t remember the last time I wasn’t in stiletto heels.
“I’m twenty-seven,” I answered.
“Wow, you’re actually old,” she said, completely unaware of how rude she was being.
“Excuse me. I’m going to go start rallying the troops now,” I said.
I climbed on one of the trunks and blew my whistle. “My name’s Gigi Goldstein. I’m Head Counselor for the Cedar Girls, so ‘hi all,'” I said, giving a little wave. “We’re going to start loading the buses in just a few minutes, so I need everyone to make sure their bags have been placed underneath. If you have any special medications you need for the bus ride, keep those separate, and make sure a parent hands them to me before you board. I’ll be right here checking off names, so start making a line.”
The older kids rushed to the front of the line, anxious to board and get their first taste of summer independence. I couldn’t believe how much older thirteen looked now than when I was that age. The girls looked like mini versions of my twenty-something friends, decked out in trendy clothes, talking about which boys they were going to hook up with over the summer. When I finished boarding the bus, I spotted Tara still on her phone.
“Hey, Tara, we’re gonna get going,” I said, motioning for her to hang up.
“One sec,” she called back to me from the curb. “I’m saying goodbye to my boyfriend. We get, like, no reception up at camp. I don’t know when I’ll speak to him again.”
Though I knew how important that last phone call was to a seventeen-year-old who thought being apart for the summer meant the same thing as being apart forever, I snickered at the dramatics of it. No – ‘forever’ was knowing the one man you’d ever loved was getting married to your best friend in just two months. Now that was worth some dramatics. When Tara finally climbed on the bus and mouthed the words ‘thank you’ to me, I knew I’d just made an ally, if only for the three-hour trip we had in front of us.
I settled into my seat closed my eyes and thought back to my very first summer at Camp Chinooka. I was nine years old and had never been away from home before. My mother dropped me off at the bus stop but left soon after to make it to her standing weekly facial appointment. Seeing me alone and upset, a girl wearing a faded Camp Chinooka tee shirt and a pair of cutoff Levi jean shorts came over and introduced herself to me. Alicia Scheinman had shiny blonde hair, piercing green eyes, and a small smattering of freckles across her nose so perfectly placed you’d swear each one was applied individually with a tweezer. Based on the number of arriving campers who stopped to say hello to her, I could tell immediately she was one of the popular girls and I was grateful she’d decided to take me under her wing. By the time the bus came, I knew I’d made a good friend. By the time that first summer was over, I knew I’d made a lifelong one.
Sometime during the fifteenth or sixteenth round of 99 bottles of beer on the wall we finally passed the sign for the road to Camp Chinooka. Tara, who’d sulked most of the trip, seemed to have perked up a bit and offered her assistance in picking up the trash off of the seats. When the last camper was off, I made my way out of the bus and was able to take a good look around.
Camp Chinooka opened in the early 1900s and retained much of its original rustic quality. There were a few sports fields, a swimming pool that was added about ten years ago, and several different cabins that housed activities like arts and crafts and woodworking. Down a large hill nestled the namesake of the camp, Lake Chinooka. It was my favorite place at camp— maybe the whole world. I used to love sitting on the dock right as the sun was going down and the only sounds you could hear were the crickets in the trees and the wind hitting the sails of the docked boats. My whole childhood had been spent in New York City and, until I got to Camp Chinooka, I never knew that kind of quiet even existed.
On the far side of the camp, past the amphitheater was The Canteen. The Canteen was an old barn that had been converted into a recreational center. On the outside was a window where campers would line up to buy snacks and treats out of their summer allowance. On the inside, a jukebox, old couches, and a crude bar that had been made by the head woodshop counselor sometime in the 1970s. It was a popular nighttime hangout for the counselors, who liked to make good use of the bar and the couches.
Some of the bunks had fresh coats of paint on them, and everything seemed just a little bit smaller. Really, though, so little had changed that I could just as easily have been stepping off the bus fifteen years earlier. As I continued to take in the surroundings, a man with the sexiest English accent I’d ever heard called out my name. I assumed he was part of the Camp America program, an organization that provided international staff to summer camps. The foreign counselors usually spent eight weeks at camp, earning money so they could travel around the US when the summer session ended. When I was a camper all the girls developed huge crushes on the British counselors, who were always far more interesting and exotic than their American counterparts. Looking around at how all the girls were gazing at this guy, I could tell little had changed.
“I’m Georgica Goldstein,” I answered, trying to raise my voice above the noise. I pushed my way through the crowd toward a twenty-something guy in khaki shorts wearing his Camp Chinooka Tee shirt over a long-sleeved shirt. He had dark, curly hair being held back with a bandana, and some of the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen. Across his face was the perfect amount of stubble, making me wonder if he was trying to look cool or just couldn’t be bothered to shave.
“I’m Perry Gillman,” he said, juggling several things in his hand. “Head Counselor for the Birch boys. Figured I should introduce myself.”
“Great,” I said, staring into his big brown eyes. “I’m Georgica, which I guess you already know. Everyone calls me Gigi.”
“Nice to meet you,” he replied, looking completely unruffled.
“I’m gonna start organizing the Cedar girls into bunks. I guess I’ll see you around?”
“Without a doubt,” he replied coolly.
As I walked away and tripped over a pile of trunks and duffle bags that’d been piled for delivery to the bunks and wiped out on the gravel in front of everyone.
Perry reached down to help me up. I stood up and brushed the dirt off my knees.
“Might want to pay closer attention to where you’re going,” he said.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I muttered.
I hadn’t handled the first introduction to my male equivalent for the summer particularly well. I was caught off guard by his looks and being back at camp, not to mention the number of adolescent girls gathering under the Cedar sign.
“Hi, everyone,” I said, making my way toward them. “My name’s Gigi. I’ll be your head counselor this summer.”
A few of the girls rolled their eyes and snickered. I tried not to focus on them, but I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. “I have your bunking assignments on this clipboard. Please listen carefully.”
I heard one girl in the back of the group say, “Listen carefully,” mimicking the sound of my voice. I wiped the sweat from my palms and swallowed hard. During my interview, the camp director explained to me that head counselors were required to live in the bunk with the campers. I would have a co-counselor and a CIT to handle some of the day-to-day stuff, but would be living right there with them, as a way to interact more with the girls.
“Okay, last but not least, my bunk, Bunk Fourteen,” I said, trying to rev up the remaining girls. “Your counselor is Jordana Singer. “I looked back down at the clipboard and realized that Tara was the only CIT not yet assigned.
“Lucky us, Tara Mann’s our CIT,” I said, smiling at her. “I need the following campers front and center: Emily Barnes, Hannah Davidson, Madison Gertstein, Alana Griffin, Jessica Jacoby, Lexie Simon, Rachel Stauber, Abby Wexel, and Emily Zegantz.”
The girls organized themselves into a line and waited for their next set of instructions.
“Dinner’s at six. Go to your bunks, get unpacked, and we’ll meet out here for roll call.”
The girls took off running to make their claims for the bottom bunks and the best cubbies. I followed behind them with Jordana, who introduced herself as we walked. She was eighteen and going to be a freshman at Brown University in the fall. She’d been a camper at Chinooka and thought it would be fun to work as a counselor before going off to college. She had fair skin and really pretty straight red hair that was held back with a tortoiseshell headband. I could tell immediately we would get along.
“What’s your story? Where do you go to school?” she asked as we walked toward the bunk.
“I’m not in college. I’m twenty-seven, actually,” I answered.
She repeated the number, understandably a little puzzled by it.
“I know, a little old to be working here,” I said.
“Are you a teacher or something, with the summer off?”
“No, I worked as a designer for Diane Von Furstenberg up until a couple of weeks ago.”
“Wow,” she said.
“Don’t be too impressed. I was downsized.”
It was a lie. I wasn’t downsized. I’d been fired. In fact, the minute Human Resource’s number flashed on the caller ID of my desk phone, I knew what was coming. I’d been anticipating the moment for months, and when it finally happened, I have to admit, I felt relieved.
I remember how I trudged down the long hallway to HR, and saw my boss waiting for me in one of the large glass-enclosed offices. I offered him a weak smile as I sat down, so he’d know none of this was his fault. The HR rep sat across from us and poured me a glass of water. She slid a box of tissues toward me and placed a manila folder containing what I was sure was my termination paperwork on the table. My boss spoke first, reciting a well-rehearsed speech about how painful the decision to let me go was. Then, the HR rep launched into her part, rattling off information about Cobra coverage, applying for unemployment, and rolling over my 401K into a personal IRA. I didn’t hear any of it. The voice in my head telling me I was a totally failure completely drowned her out.
You see, two years ago, I decided to do something totally out of character and tried out for a new reality show, Top Designer, where fourteen contestants competed for a chance to show their collections during New York Fashion Week. Although I had no formal training, I was convinced I could take the fashion world by storm. While there were certainly far more talented people on the show, I believed I had something special, a sense of style that set my work and me apart. The judges obviously agreed, because I made it all the way to the finale. Although I wasn’t the ultimate victor, I did win some money to start my own line and more importantly, Diane von Furstenberg invited me to join their creative team.
I broke the news of my decision to be on Top Designer to my parents while we were sitting at Georgica Beach over Memorial Day weekend. Embarrassingly enough, I was actually named for that particular Hamptons beach. I like to tell people I was conceived during a particularly hot summer following a particularly dull display of Fourth of July fireworks. The unfortunate truth is that my yuppie parents hoped to one day be able to afford a piece of property in the East Hamptons and thought the name would prove inspiring. My grandfather never approved of me being named after a Long Island beach (can you blame him?) and immediately started calling me “Gigi.” Fortunately, like any good nickname, it stuck. Thank God I didn’t have siblings, or one might have had the misfortune of being named Martha’s Vineyard, another of my parents’ favorite summer vacation spots.
As predicted, my parents did not take the news of my deferment well. Although they offered to pay the entire cost of a law school education, they made it very clear they were not at all interested in contributing to what they saw as a “self-indulgent waste of time.” So, I did what any headstrong twenty-something does when faced with what they believe is their own do-or-die moment. I moved out of my parents’ apartment and in with my best friend, Alicia. I used every scrap of savings I had to cover my expenses while I was on the show, and prayed that all of it would prove worthwhile. The day that Diane von Furstenberg offered me a position, it seemed as though I was on my way. And the day they fired me, everything changed.
Thankfully, Jordana knew enough not to ask any follow-up questions relating to my former employer, but followed it up with an even worse one.
“No,” I answered, without even the smallest inflection. “You?”
“I broke up with him a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to be tied down this summer. Good thing—there are some really cute counselors this year. Have you met Perry?”
“I just met him a few minutes ago—seems nice,” I answered.
“Not my taste, but definitely cute. Some girl will scoop him up.”
Before we even walked into the bunk I could already hear the girls arguing over who got what bed and which cubby. Tara’s voice was louder than all of them. I looked at Jordana and said, “Here we go.” She nodded and pushed her way into the bunk, no easy task with clothes and trunks covering most of the floor. Finally inside, Jordana immediately went to open up some windows, while I took a good look around.
Five bunk beds lined the far wall with stacks of cubbies between each bed. On the opposite side were the two single beds meant for Jordana and me. I threw my bags down on the single bed that had my name on it. I turned on the bathroom light and saw two sinks, two stalls, and another row of cubbies for toiletries and sheets. I’d forgotten there were no showers in the bunks. It was nice to see the camp retained some its original rustic qualities, but walking across the lawn, with nothing between the world and my bare behind but a towel…I shuddered at the thought.
Tara had the lower bed of a set of bunk beds right across from us and was complaining about not getting a single to anyone who would listen. While the rest of the girls were settling in, making their beds, and hanging posters, I put my own things away.
First, I made up my bed, then turned the top of the cubby into an improvised nightstand. I set up an alarm clock, small lamp, and took out a framed picture of Alicia and me as campers at about the same age as the girls I was now in charge of. I stared at of two of us standing on the porch of the bunk, our hair pulled back with white bandanas, smiles from ear to ear. When one of the campers interrupted my trip down memory lane, I had to wipe the tears from my eyes.
“I’m Madison—Maddy,” she said. She was a slightly overweight girl in shorts and a tee-shirt that were both a little too small on her.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I don’t have enough room to put away all of my things,” she answered.
“Did you see the cubbies in the bathroom?” I said pointing to the back of the bunk. “There should be two assigned to you.”
She crossed her arms and spread her legs apart. “I already filled them.”
“Well, how much more do you have to unpack? Maybe you can just refold some of it a little smaller?” I suggested.
She pointed toward her bed, which was covered in piles of clothes.
“Give me a few more minutes to finish getting settled, and then I’ll come over to see what I can do.”
She had stopped listening and picked up the picture frame off my nightstand. “Who are they?” she asked.
“I’m the one on the left, and the girl next to me is my friend, Alicia,” I answered.
“No way that’s you,” she said.
“I swear, that’s me when I was about your age.”
“But you were . . .” Her voice trailed off a little bit. I knew the word she was too polite to blurt out, so I said it for her.
“Yeah, you were fat,” she mumbled. Her eyes were wide open, and she was still staring at the picture. “Are you still friends with that other girl? She was so pretty. Is she still really pretty?”
I took the picture back from Madison and looked at it. Instantly I thought of how Alicia’d look with her hair elegantly slicked back into her wedding veil in a few weeks. More tears flooded my eyes as I imagined her standing there, alone, in her white dress, her parents delicately lifting up the veil and kissing their daughter on the cheek before escorting her down the aisle to meet Joshua. I wouldn’t be there to see it. I’d avoided being there. What kind of person does that?
“So what about all of my stuff?” Madison whined, snapping me back to reality.
Jordana, seeing the tears rolling down my cheeks, came to my rescue.
“You’re Maddy, right?” she asked, climbing over her bed to sit next to me on mine.
“Yeah?” Madison replied.
“Whatever you don’t plan on wearing in the next couple of weeks, keep packed in your trunk, okay? Then, in a few weeks, rotate.”
“I’ll try it,” Madison replied reluctantly.
Jordana put her arm around my shoulder.
“Maybe,” I replied.
“Pull it together. You’re our fearless leader,” she teased, trying to get me to smile.
I went into the bathroom and washed my face. When I came out, Jordana had all the girls sitting in a circle on the floor of the bunk so they could introduce themselves to one another. After I told them a bit about myself, I went outside for roll call.
Within seconds of yelling “Roll call,” almost fifty girls came streaming out from five different Cedar bunks, all of them raring to go. The counselors lined them up by bunk and then counted off. When each counselor nodded to me that they had the appropriate number of campers, I took my cue to speak. This was my make-it-or-break-it moment. In the next few seconds, they would either see me as their friend, big sister, and mentor, or the person who stood in the way of them having a good time this summer. If it was the latter, their sole mission would be to get me to resign before the summer had even begun. Unfortunately, I knew this from personal experience.
“Before we head off to dinner, I just wanted to take a minute to say a few things. First off, if anyone has any problems or concerns, I want you to first talk to your counselor, but if you feel that whatever it is isn’t being addressed, my door is always open. Secondly, we’re all here for the same reason, to have a good time and take advantage of everything that camp is about. We are here to make friends and memories, so let’s try to work together and follow the rules, to ensure we have a great summer.”
I was losing them. I sounded like every other patronizing adult I used to hate at their age. I quickly changed my approach. “A little birdie told that the Cedar girls have not won the Gordy Award in over five years. Well, I don’t know about you, but I think that it’s our turn.”
A few of me them perked up. The Gordy Award, aptly named for Gordon Birnbaum, the camp’s director for the last thirty-plus years, was given to the group that showed the most involvement and spirit during the summer. The winning group got to choose between a trip to Boston, Washington DC, or New York City and the competition usually got pretty heated. Birch had taken it the last few summers, and from what I’d heard on the bus, were intent on winning again this year. I wasn’t about to let that happen.
My years of working in the corporate world taught me that nothing bonds a group together faster than having a common goal, and even more than that, a common enemy. I became close to two colleagues when management hired a manipulative, tyrant-esque VP for our division whom we all hated. Our common disdain for him was the glue that forged our friendship, and getting him fired sealed it. If I could divert Cedar’s attention to Perry and his boys, pitting them as the enemy, I would, if even just by default, become their friend. It was a desperate tactic, but these girls were going to look for every single possible way to get me to resign, just as I’d done to all of my head counselors when I was a camper.
At their same age, Alicia and I sneaked into our Head Counselor Mindy’s bunk, and, while she slept, covered her in shaving cream, toothpaste, and whatever else we could find, replicating the scene from the movie The Parent Trap. We hoped when she woke up, she would be too preoccupied with the mess to notice that we’d sneaked over to the boys’ side. We continued our barrage of practical jokes and torments through the first half of the summer, until Mindy was so fed up she quit. In hindsight, I realized how awful and immature we acted just to have a few moments alone with the boys, but I was not about to let what happened to her happen to me. “I want to remind you ladies that, if we win, we get a three-day trip to DC, Boston, or New York, not to mention bragging rights for the rest of the summer,” I added. A few of the girls whispered to one another and I could tell I’d stirred up some excitement.
“So, I ask you, are we gonna win the Gordy this year?” I shouted in their direction. I heard a few girls grumble the word ‘yes.’ I raised my voice. “I can’t hear you. I said, ‘Are we gone win the Gordy this year?'”
A few more yelled out the word ‘yes.’ Jordana made eye contact with me and then nudged some of the quieter girls to speak up.
“Are we gonna kick the Birch boys’ asses and take the Gordy?” I screamed out like a maniac.
They yelled the word ‘yes’ at the tops of their lungs.
“Good. So now I want you all to repeat after me: ‘We are Cedar, we couldn’t be prouder, and if you can’t hear us, we’ll shout a little louder. We are Cedar, we couldn’t be prouder, and if you can’t hear us, we’ll shout a little louder.'”
By the third verse all the girls joined in, and I started our march toward the dining hall. When the counselors saw my signal, they prompted the girls to follow. We headed to the Great Lawn, screaming the chant, and continued cheering all the way into the dining hall. When we walked in, we had the attention of the entire room. Perry’s eyes were fixed on me. He looked upset we’d already gotten the upper hand and made a beeline in my direction.
“Throwing your hat in the ring for the Gordy?”
The girls were still screaming the cheer behind me.
“Maybe?” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“You know Birch has won it for the last three summers,” he said very matter-of-factly.
“Yeah, I think I heard that somewhere,” I replied.
“Well, it’ll be nice to have a worthy adversary for a change.”
“I’m guessing you’re the one who led them to victory last year?”
“Last year, and the two years before,” he answered. “I’m planning on continuing our streak this summer.”
“Whatever,” I said, feeling a bit argumentative. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
“Rubbish,” he answered. “Or, as you American girls say, whatever.”
“We don’t say that. I mean, I just said whatever, but it’s not a fair generalization.”
“Whatever,” he teased.
“Stop saying that. If you think Americans are such rubbish, why are you here?”
“I’m working on my doctorate, so have my summers off. Although I have to put in some time on my thesis.”
Attractive or not, he was a little too self-satisfied. Before I could respond, Gordy made his way up to the microphone stand in the center of the room. I didn’t know if it was the Chinooka air or water that preserved him, but he hadn’t aged one bit. The entire room quieted, and he started to sing the Camp Chinooka alma mater into the microphone. Within seconds the rest of the room joined in. It was amazing how I remembered every word and every inflection, able to sing it effortlessly. When the song was over, Gordy welcomed us all to the centennial summer and invited everyone to enjoy the meal.
The first dinner at Chinooka was always a banquet, but after that we’d be served cafeteria style for the rest of the summer. The food was just as inedible as I remembered. I picked at some roasted chicken and some lumpy, grey mashed potatoes before pushing the whole plate aside. After all the tables had been served, Gordy made his way back up to the podium to make other announcements. He talked about the new amenities that had been added over the winter, including the new dock and the inline skating rink. He let everyone know that the camp production would be Fiddler on the Roof and, because it was the camp’s one hundredth year, we would be putting on a special performance of it in the newly built outdoor Lakeside Amphitheater. Then, he introduced some key staff and some of the other head counselors from the younger groups, Maple, Pine, Oak, and Elm.
When he got to Perry, I noticed all of the girls in my group whispering to each other. He was by far the best-looking staff member. When Gordy introduced me, I stood up and did a quick wave and the girls in my group cheered. Had I won them over with my spirit and promises of a Gordy victory? Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all?
Who was I kidding, this whole thing was crazy. Who walks out of their life and goes to work at their childhood sleepaway camp at twenty-seven years old? As Gordy finished introducing the last members of the waterfront staff, that answer became painfully clear – only someone with nothing left to lose.
Say Hello to author Beth Merlin!
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, her beautiful daughter, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. When Beth finds a moment of free time, she loves to read books by the authors who’ve most influenced her work, like Sophie Kinsella, Emily Giffin, and JoJo Moyes.
One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.
If you’re a TV watcher, what are you addicted to?
Game of Thrones is amazing! I’m not a huge fan of fantasy normally, but the show and books are really more of a political soap opera and I can’t get enough! I also will watch almost anything on Bravo.
What’s your favorite reading/writing snack?
A big bowl of popcorn.
What is your favorite season?
Summer for sure. I love the weather, the long days, the easy wardrobe of dresses and sandals, the beach, and of course summer camp.
Do you have a favorite writing spot that you get the most done?
I usually park myself at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and some background music.
Where are you most inspired?
New York City has always served and will probably continue to serve as my greatest inspiration. I feel lucky to have grown up with everything that city has to offer and so many of my references and ideas come from having lived there.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Book 2 of the Campfire Series, S’more to Lose the sequel to One S’more Summer which picks the story up four years later.
Coffee, Wine or something else?
Coffee definitely! Preferably iced –even in the winter.
What type of scenes are your favorite to write?
I love writing fiery dialogue particularly between any love interests. I also love any scene that forces me to do some research into an area I don’t know as much about. For example, many of the scenes in the follow up to One S’more Summer–S’more to Lose take place in London and involve the British aristocracy and British royalty. In order to be as authentic as possible I found myself doing quite a bit of research to ensure I was giving characters the proper titles and accompanying details.
What kind of writer are you when beginning a new story – panster, planner or something entirely different?
I’m a panster. I usually have a general sense of where I want to go with the story but I’m not a writer that does a tremendous amount of outlining. I have learned though that this approach can not only come with rewards but also some big risks. I’ve definitely gone down a path only to scrap an idea and pages when the plot didn’t come together the way I wanted. On the flip side, I’ve had some really great twists and turns come to me in the middle of the process that I couldn’t have planned for and grew out of character development or a lightning bolt idea.
Do you have a book you read as a child or teen that has stuck with you through adulthood?
I have a couple. Anne of Green Gables and the other works of L.M. Montgomery were some of my absolute favorites growing up. I loved the world Montgomery created on Prince Edward Island and all the people that inhabited Avonlea. As a teenager I fell in love with The World According to Garp by John Irving. I loved the mix of comedy and tragedy and the unique nuanced eccentric characters. So many scenes from that book stay will me even to this day. I also reread Kane and Abel by Jeffery Archer at least once a year. I love a good epic novel that spans generations and history, and this is one of the best I’ve ever read.
You get to have lunch with anyone from the past, who do you choose and why?
I’m gonna cheat a little and talk about someone from the present day I’d LOVE to have lunch with, Lin Manuel Miranda. He is, no question, the greatest Broadway lyricist and composer of our generation. Hamilton was one of the best show’s I’ve ever seen and I’d love to pick his brain about his creative process, inspirations, and other Broadway show’s he’s a fan of.
Thank you, Beth, for allowing me to feature you and your fabulous book!