There really is something magical about rain when it comes to my creativity. I've spent the last three days struggling to plot a sequel to The Book In Search of a Good Home and have trashed every effort. Then last night around nine, I thought I heard a rumble in the distance and went out onto the porch to find out what it was. It was thunder, and as I was standing on the porch, it started raining and suddenly got cooler. I went inside, opened the windows so I could hear the rain, and scribbled out an entire outline for the book, with all kinds of ideas coming fast and furious. Unfortunately, the down side to a late-night burst of creativity is that I can't turn off my brain to go to sleep, and my brain also likes to use that energy to solve various problems in my life. So at one in the morning I was wide awake and mentally composing a politely worded note to someone I have business dealings with, explaining the problems I'm having with the way they do business. I hadn't even realized how upset I was about the situation, and I've been just saying that it's okay and I understand because I like to be easy to work with, but now I've realized I'm nearing a breaking point and it's better for me to be up front with the fact that I can't and won't do business that way and give the other person a chance to change than for me to just get fed up and sever the relationship because I can't take it anymore. Getting a good mad on about something I hadn't realized I was that angry about is not conducive to getting to sleep. I may be a zombie today.
So it's probably good that it's a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit day and I don't have to think of a coherent post on my own. Jenny O'Connell is back with two new books that make me want to go on vacation. Both are set on Martha's Vineyard during the summer and involve the differences between the locals who live on the island year-round and the tourists who come for the summer.
In LOCAL GIRLS, friendships are in danger of ending with the summer. Kendra and Mona are best friends, local girls who spend their summers catering to rich tourists and the rest of the year chafing against small-town life. Then Mona's mom marries one of the island's rich summer visitors, and Mona joins the world of the Boston elite, leaving Kendra and Martha's Vineyard behind. When Mona returns the following summer, everything is different.
Unlike his sister, Mona's twin brother Henry hasn't changed. He's spending his summer the way he always has: with long, quiet hours fishing. Early mornings before work become special for Kendra as she starts sharing them with Henry, hoping he can help her figure Mona out. Then Kendra hatches a plan to prove she's Mona's one true friend: uncover the identity of the twins' birth father, a question that has always obsessed Mona. And so she begins to unravel the seventeen-year-old mystery of the summer boy who charmed Mona's mother. But it may prove to be a puzzle better left unsolved--as what she is about to discover will change their lives forever...
In RICH BOYS, Winnie jumps at the chance to babysit for a wealthy summer family and earn some extra money—but soon learns that life in the Barclay’s beautiful vacation home isn’t as perfect as it appears. And what was supposed to be a carefree summer quickly becomes more complicated than she ever thought possible.
Now, the interview:
What was the inspiration behind these books?
The books take place on Martha's Vineyard, so first and foremost summer was the greatest inspiration. I've always felt like summer is a time when anything can happen, it's all about possibility. LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS have very different plots, but they're both about the opportunities and changes summer brings.
You've said Martha's Vineyard is one of your favorite places. Do you see yourself as more one of the "local girls" or a "rich visitor"?
Well, I'm definitely not a local girl, because I only go to the island in the summer, but I'd like to think I have a local girl's mentality - I hate crowds, would rather sit on a deserted beach than one filled with kids and activity, and after ten years of going there I'm over buying souvenirs every time I step onto Main Street. I actually spent some time on the island in October, after the summer crush, and it was so nice - like a normal place that just happened to be stunning.
If someone wanted to plan a trip to Martha's Vineyard, what would you suggest they do and see to get the best experience?
There are six towns on the Vineyard and each one has its own personality. From preppy and sort of cosmopolitan (Edgartown) to laid back and more earthy (Chilmark). LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS take place in Edgartown, but the next book takes place in Chilmark. They're totally different back drops for stories. I'd tell someone to make sure they explored the whole island to find the place that fits them.
If you were going to have a summer job (other than as a writer) at Martha's Vineyard, what would you want to do?
Oh, good question because the characters' choices of summer jobs actually tell a lot about them (Kendra works at the Willow Inn and Winnie works at a camp and babysits). I've never waitressed. I don't like cold water, so lifeguard is out. I love ice cream, but if I scooped that all summer I'd end up the shape of a beach ball. Is unemployed a summer job? Because just hanging out on the beach sounds good to me.
What are you reading now?
I just started Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.
What are you working on now?
The third book in the Island Summer series.
For more info, visit Jenny's web site. Or visit her blog for a chance to win an Island Summer t-shirt. You can get Local Girls and Rich Boys at Amazon.