Nancy discusses her latest novel Girls of Summer, writing about the intricacies and mysteries of family, her love of crafting beach reads with happy endings, the way technology has impacted her job, and the importance of independent book stores.
Nancy discusses her latest novel Girls of Summer, writing about the intricacies and mysteries of family, her love of crafting beach reads with happy endings, the way technology has impacted her job, the importance of independent book stores, and much more.
Girls of Summer can be purchased at Murder by the Book.
Nancy’s 3 recommended reads are:
book, nantucket, people, summer, island, read, interested, authors, love, mass market paperbacks, technology, zoom, grandmother, lisa, pandemic, problem, nancy, houston, writing, backman
Cindy Burnett, Nancy Thayer
Cindy Burnett 00:08
This is the Thoughts from a Page Podcast where I interview authors about their latest works. Listen to what inspired the storylin, how their covers and titles were chosen, their personal connection to the story and other fascinating tidbits about the author's themselves. My name is Cindy Burnett, and I love to talk about books. I can be found on Instagram and Pinterest at @thoughtsfrompage, and if you have any comments or feedback for me, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nancy Thayer has a BA and an MA in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Before settling down to write and have children, she taught English at various colleges and traveled living in Paris, Amsterdam and Helsinki. In 1981, she was a fellow at the Breadloaf Writers Conference. She has lived on Nantucket Island year-round for 25 years with her husband, Charlie Waters. Her books concern the mysteries and romance of families and relationships, and the humorous adventures of growing older. Thanks so much for listening. And I hope you enjoy this show. Welcome, Nancy. I am so glad you're here to talk with me today. How's everything going?
Nancy Thayer 01:20
Everything is beautiful on Nantucket. We're having a very, very nice, almost summer day. But technology is sort of, well, it can be a problem on an island 30 miles away from the mainland. And I can talk a little more about that, because I actually think it's fascinating, which is that we have only one computer fix-it person on the island, only one fix-it shop. And in the winter, we have about 20,000 people on the island. In the summer, we have about 50,000. And because of COVID people are staying here. Kids are going to school virtually to college. And they all need their computers fixed. And our poor computer fix-it person is inundated. And we all love her. We are all so reliant on so many kinds of technology now aren't we?
Cindy Burnett 02:30
We really are, and I'm surprised she's not recruiting people to come join her in the midst of all of this. There's probably a lot of people that would love to come to Nantucket to help with technology.
Nancy Thayer 02:39
I'm sure there are. (both laugh)
Cindy Burnett 02:42
Well, I can't imagine, I hadn't thought through that aspect of it. But I'm in Houston. And we've had issues just with the overtaxing of the networks because of the same thing, especially when school first started, and everyone was online. Now in modified format, a lot of schools have started to go back with people social distancing and masks. And so that's helping, but we were really struggling to make sure our network was working. And we're in the middle of a huge city. So I'm sure when you're on an island like that, that that's an overload to your network too. There's positives and negatives to technology. And it just seems like when it goes awry, it's really hard sometimes to get to the bottom of it.
Nancy Thayer 03:20
It is. I'm very, I'm so thrilled and excited that when I finish a novel, let's say of 350 pages, I don't have to find a box to put it in and wrap the box up in paper and put a tie around it and take it down to the post office and send it to New York. I just push a button. So I would never say I don't love technology. There are just times when it frustrates me.
Cindy Burnett 03:57
I get back completely. And yes, I guess you have been writing for a while and have a lot of books. So you probably have seen big changes in the way all of that occurs now.
Nancy Thayer 04:08
I have seen that with with the internet, with Facebook, with the speed of technology. I think for many writers. This summer, I had a summer book out this summer called Girls of Summer. And I often go on book tours. Really I mean, I get on the ferry and I take a car to Boston or I fly to Dallas, but I didn't travel. Like a lot of other writers, I had virtual tours on Zoom or some other kind of technological hookup.
Cindy Burnett 04:48
I think that has been a positive to the pandemic is learning all of these different platforms. And then it's a bummer to not see authors in person. I missed that so much, but I've also been able to see so many authors give their author talks and talk about their new books because they're online versus in person. People I would have never had the opportunity to see, so I definitely feel like there's upsides and downsides.
Nancy Thayer 05:14
Well, I think we're a pretty resilient group of people. And I mean, everyone around the world how we've taken on an unprecedented problem well, not for all human beings. But for those of us alive now, we haven't had to deal deal with something like COVID. And I think we're doing, knock wood, a good job. And I've heard that book sales have actually gone up.
Cindy Burnett 05:42
Well, I do find that I have more time to read. I mean, it comes in waves. Initially, when when this all began, I was so stressed, I couldn't really focus. But once I realized I just needed to focus on something else. I couldn't control what was happening, whether I worried or not with the pandemic. So once I kind of dove into books and started focusing on this podcast and other things, I've had more time to read than I normally do. And I do think that has impacted sales. And I think indie bookstores have done a great job of getting the message out that they need help, and that it's important to keep them in business. And it seems like readers have really responded well to that.
Nancy Thayer 06:21
Yes, I think I think they have. On Nantucket, we have a favorite bookstore, Mitchell's Book Corner. And they have done a wonderful job letting us know what new books are there. And I've gone in to sign a lot of books, so that they can let people know they can get an autographed book. There are several bookstores on the Cape that are, that are independent bookstores. And I have signed books for them or done Zoom meetings with them. And I've also done Zoom meetings, oh my gosh, in many places. And, and I've enjoyed it. And the thing with Zoom is that, although you're not in the same room with other people, as, as an author, I can see if they have the Zoom set, right, I can see the faces of my readers. And that's always such a delight. I think most writers really enjoy book tours, whether they're in person or virtual, because most of the time when we're writing, we're alone. I mean, all of the time, when I'm writing, I'm alone. And so to get out and see the people who read my books, it's such a joy. And I was so grateful to have the internet to have Zoom this summer.
Cindy Burnett 07:53
I work part time at Murder by the Book, which is an independent bookstore here in Houston. And it's been so much fun to do a lot of these events with different authors in the UK or wherever else that we wouldn't have done before. So yes, and Zoom is just fabulous. I also run a literary salon. And we've moved online, obviously, during the pandemic, and it's worked great. And people still speak up and participate and ask questions. And we've added an online book club. It's been great. So definitely, I think that that's been a positive, learning all this technology and still continuing to share our love of reading. And it's been a good distraction. I am actually dying to hear all about Girls of Summer? Do you want to tell me a little bit about it?
Nancy Thayer 08:34
Of course. It's my latest book. And actually, it's my 33rd novel. And it's set on Nantucket. And I always like to include some some little topic that I'm interested in, that I really don't want to give a speech about. But that I want readers to sort of know about as they're reading, what is really what they call in the biz a beach book. And there are a lot of beach books that come out in the summer. And I think for me, the real core of a beach book or the real meaning of a beach book is there's going to be a happy ending. This isn't, this isn't about something so terrible that your breath is taken away. In Girls of Summer, the main character is a woman named Lisa, who is 56 years old, and she falls in love with a man who is 46 years old. And women who fall in love and marry younger men is not as accepted as older men marrying younger women. And my husband is seven years younger than I am, and we've been married for 36 years. But in Girls of Summer, I make the romance a little more complicated, because life is a little more complicated. And she falls in love with the man who's 46. He falls in love with her. He has a daughter, who is 22. And she's just returning from college. And Lisa has a son, Theo, who is about 26. And they both grew up on Nantucket. Theo, who is Lisa's son, and Beth, who is Mac's daughter, were best friends with Atticus when they were teenagers. And a very small part of the plot is that Atticus is bipolar and has serious problems. That's a small part of the plot. But it's also something I like to include, because there's so many problems we all have. It might be mental illness, it might be drugs, it might be sickness. So I've thrown in a little problem into the Girls of Summer, but I've also thrown in something that I think people in Houston might be interested in, which is rising waters. In Nantucket, we're very aware of rising waters, because we are, we're an island. And there's a little bit about that in the book. So there's a romance between Lisa and Mac, there is the complication of the two children who are really attached to each other. They they're really chemically interested in each other. It's a scrambled, complicated situation. And I think that is basically what all families are.
Cindy Burnett 12:05
I think that is totally true. And definitely the rising wate. Where it's an issue for us is the Hurricanes when the storms come in. And there's so much rain due to climate change. And these worsening storms, and the city has gotten bigger and bigger. They just can't we can't accommodate it. There's no way for the water to go. And I think that's going to be an issue for all coastal areas and islands as we continue further down the road with the planet warming.
Nancy Thayer 12:30
I think we're getting more and more people who are really interested, and young people who are interested in solving problems. And I think that's one of the reasons I had Ryder Hastings come to the island in my book, in Girls of Summer. Ryder Hastings comes to the island from Boston, because he wants to start a branch of his group called Ocean Matters. And he falls in love with Lisa's daughter. And Ryder is 10 years older than Juliet just like Lisa is 10 years older than Mac, and, and that's as I said a lot of complications.
Cindy Burnett 13:19
I think your cover is fabulous. It is so inviting. And it just you know makes you think of summer. Did you have a say in that?
Nancy Thayer 13:27
I actually did, and they didn't care. (both laugh) I'll be honest with you, Cindy. Because when my editor sent me the mock up of the cover, I said immediately It's beautiful. That turquoise is one of my favorite colors. But Nantucket doesn't have turquoise water. That's water down around, oh, I don't know, the Bahamas.
Cindy Burnett 13:57
The Caribbean. Yeah, that was the one thing I was wondering. I was like I don't think Nantucket's water is quite that clear. But it's very pretty.
Nancy Thayer 14:05
Well it's clear in many places. So you can see shells and creatures and so on. And it's blue. It's sky blue, or it's indigo blue. I've never seen it turquoise, and I don't know what accounts for that. But I think the cover for a book about summer, the cover is so inviting just looking at that just, just makes you want to dive right in.
Cindy Burnett 14:32
I agree completely, and I really think it could almost be a pool, like a shallower pool with the color. As I looked at it, I think it could be any of that but it definitely looks like summer. All of this cover talk makes me wonder about your upcoming projects. Do you have anything you'd like to tell me about that you're working on now?
Nancy Thayer 14:50
Yes, I want I want to tell you two things. First of all, I would love to tell you that my Christmas novel, Let It Snow, which came out in hardback last year, is going to be available October 27, in a mass market paperback. And that's really exciting to me, because mass market paperbacks are a little bit smaller than trade paperbacks. And they are put into different places. They are in bookstores, and they're in Barnes and Noble, but the mass market paperbacks are going to be in, I don't know, drug stores like CVS, or places like Target and Walmart and in grocery stores. And I think Let It Snow is probably my favorite book in the world that I've written. It's set on Nantucket in December. December is my birthday. I don't mention that in the book. But it's kind of, I feel like it's my most perfect little book. And I wanted to mention that it would make a perfect stocking stuffer, because it's only the price is going to be something like $7.99. People can, can give that as presents much more than they could a more expensive book.
Cindy Burnett 16:23
I agree. And I think the size lends itself well to, like you said, a stocking stuffer or throwing it in your purse or whatever, and the price is nice, and it'll be sold so many different places. So that's great. Well, that's exciting.
Nancy Thayer 16:35
I'm excited for the season that's coming up. I always, I always loved winter. But my book that is coming out next May is called Family Reunion. And it's set on Nantucket. And it involves a grandmother named Eleanor, who has a huge house on the island. And her granddaughter, Ariana, who has just graduated and is interested in early childhood education. Sometimes grandchildren and grandparents get along better than children and their parents, or parents and their children. I'm madly in love with my grandchildren. But of course, I don't have the hard work of disciplining them. I don't have the hard work of telling them to do their own laundry, that sort of thing. And I'm interested in how one generation influences another generation. And the book is partly about wanting the grandmother to sell this massively expensive house, because I think all houses on Nantucket are massively expensive. So the whole business of money comes into this, as well as relationships, falling in love, falling in love with the right person or the wrong person. You can fall in love with someone that your grandmother likes that your mother doesn't, because you're laughing.
Cindy Burnett 18:18
I'm only laughing because there's a different grandparents and parents, I agree with you completely on those relationships so it's just funny the dynamics.
Nancy Thayer 18:26
It is funny. I mean, I remember my grandparents. I loved them so so much. They were so much nicer to me than my parents.(both laughing) And of course they were. So that's one of the the issues I'm addressing in Family Reunion, and getting pregnant. But Ariana, who is the young woman, who obviously is the one who gets pregnant, not the grandmother, has to decide what she's going to do, where she's going to live, how her life is going to change. So there's love and money and family in Family Reunion. And it's a big book for me because I write from the point of view of the grandmother, but also the point of view of the young woman. And since I am in good touch with both of my children, I have a son who lives out in Arizona, and a daughter who lives in the middle of Massachusetts. And, of course everybody likes to come visit in the summer. And I know they're friends. I am aware of problems that younger people have, and talents and jobs and freedoms and so on that I certainly didn't have when I was their age.
Cindy Burnett 19:52
Well I am going to have to keep my eye out for that one. It sounds really good. It'll be out in May?
Nancy Thayer 19:57
It will be out in May, and I'll send you a copy.
Cindy Burnett 20:00
Oh, I would love that. And I can't wait to see the cover already, as you can tell them a cover person. So that is almost always what catches my attention. So I look forward to, I'll keep an eye out for seeing it on Instagram ahead of time. And we'll look forward to my own copy when it eventually arrives.
Nancy Thayer 20:16
Cindy Burnett 20:17
Well, before we wrap up, I would love to hear what you have read recently that you really liked.
Nancy Thayer 20:22
Ah, well, it sounds like you like mysteries. So I can tell you I love mysteries. The best mystery I've read this year is One by One by Ruth Ware. It's set, it's set off the coast in Ireland. And it's sort of like a really much more sophisticated Agatha Christie. It's just brilliant. The best book I've read, I've read probably in 2020 is Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. And Backman is I don't know, is it Norwegian or Swedish?
Cindy Burnett 21:02
Nancy Thayer 21:03
Thank you. And he wrote a book called A Man Called Ove which was very, very, well it's a wonderful book and very popular. This book Anxious People, he had to have written it before COVID but what a perfect title for a book in 2020. And it is so full of warmth and love for humanity and humor and idiosyncrasies. It's one that I will read over and over again. And another very good book I've read is The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which has been number one on the bestseller list. And it's about two girls who are twins. And it's a fascinating story about what happens to these girls.
Cindy Burnett 21:53
I read all three of those, and I really liked all three of them. I love Fredrik Backman. I just think his books are amazing. And I really like Brit Bennett. I loved The Vanishing Half, but my favorite of hers is her first one, The Mothers. Have you read it?
Nancy Thayer 22:07
I haven't. You like it. I will read it.
Cindy Burnett 22:10
It's really good. And then I love Ruth Ware. She is just delightful. And she's come to the bookstore. And I thought One by One was great. And The Death of Mrs. Westaway. She's awesome. So yeah, I really have enjoyed her books and really all three. So well. Thank you so much for joining me today. Nancy. This has been delightful. I really, really enjoyed speaking with you.
Nancy Thayer 22:31
Well, I enjoyed speaking with you, Cindy. It's nice to be in touch with someone down in Houston. So thank you, it was a great interview.
Cindy Burnett 22:41
Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. If you like this episode, and I hope you did. Please follow me on Instagram at @thoughtsfrompage, tell all of your friends about the podcast and rate it wherever you listen to your podcasts. Nancy's book can be purchased at Murder by the Book where I work part time, and the link is in the show notes. And as always, I hope to see you next time.