This weekend nationally- and internationally-acclaimed authors and hundreds of book-lovers will gather on Nantucket Island to share their love of books, their enthusiasm for writing, and their insights on the written word during the fourth annual Nantucket Book Festival.
More than 70 published writers participating in the three-day event will give talks, sign books, and discuss their work with readers and other authors, often in fun and conversational gatherings designed to foster personal relationships. Invited authors, chosen by the Book Festival committee, represent a diverse range of genres and styles: novels, memoirs, poetry, children’s books, young adult fiction, history, cookbooks, and more. We asked a few of them why they decided to participate…
Rosalyn Berne, author of Creating Life from Life – A Biotechnology and Science Fiction and When the Horses Whisper: “I am participating because my novel was inspired by, and is set on Nantucket. What a wonderful opportunity to share my book with others who are physically right there, who will have walked past the buildings described, and along the streets where my main characters are living and moving around. Waiting in the Silence is a near term, historic science fiction novel, so the Nantucket Book Festival gives me an eerily delightful chance to go from from the historic, to the imaginative future, to present day reality. How surreal!”
Charles Soule, author of A Biker Undone, In the Same Space, Whaler’s Gold, andmore: “My novels are set on Nantucket, and I’ve found it is an important event to promote the books. Also, it is a great opportunity to visit and discuss writing with other authors.”
Daintry Jensen, author of The Hidden Forest: “I was really thrilled to get an invitation from Amy Jenness. I think this is a wonderful event because there’s such a diverse group of people participating with one purpose – to celebrate books and the creative spirits behind them. And of course, it’s on Nantucket, the place I think of as home.”
Scott Turow, author of Identical: “Because it is summer on Nantucket!”
John Thompson, author of Salem VI: “Why am I participating in the Nantucket Book Festival? Are you kidding? First, it’s probably the most beautiful spot I know of that has a book festival. Second, I am absolutely a fan of so many of the great writers who will be attending. I am humbled and pleased beyond words to be included, and so excited I can’t stand it. Thank you, Nantucket Book Festival!!”
We also asked these featured authors about the importance of place in their novels…
Rosalyn Berne: “I suppose that given the novel’s general subject of technology in the future, and how it affect human lives and communities, it could be set almost anywhere on earth. But I wanted to be able to use the history of the Island, especially the presence of Quakers and the whaling industry, drawing heavily from the past to spin a tale of the future. The other reason why is that Nantucket is relatively pristine, environmentally speaking. The novel touches on the potentially devastating effects of climate change. Because of its wild beauty and also its environmental vulnerability, Nantucket is a really good setting to dramatize such.
“I honeymooned on Nantucket 35 years ago. Dear friends live and work there year-round, so I visit when I am able. The island is a gem that I hold in my heart. I never actually planned to write a novel set on Nantucket. It just came up, actually in the middle of the night; the idea woke and I sat up and wrote until dawn a short story that eventually became the novel. Perhaps Nantucket was stored somewhere in my subconscious, as a representative of “the way that things use to be.” In my teaching and research on the emergence and convergence of newly developing technologies, my concern is that we may soon lose some very important elements of that “way” of living. Science fiction is the best means I have personally, to express those concerns in ways that others may be able to relate to.”
Charles Soule: “The settings of my novels on Nantucket has played a central role in my creative approach to the plots of my books. Being familiar with the island for more than thirty years allows me to select scenes that will be recognized by the reader and allows the reader to picture him or herself as a participant in the story.”
Daintry Jensen: “I see setting almost as another character in the story – so very important. Nantucket adds a whole other heightened element to this because it’s such a changeable place – from the weather, to the people, to the different areas – many of them hidden, off the beaten path. There’s a real mystique and magic to the island. With such dramatic history, realms of the unseen (how many ghost story collections do we have?), unparalleled natural beauty – it’s all here. How lucky are we? I actually didn’t even realize I was setting so many of my stories here until a good friend of mine pointed it out. I guess you could say it’s in my blood.”
Scott Turow: “The setting is often another character in a good novel. Nantucket certainly has the charm and atmosphere to be that prominent.”
John Thompson: “Is setting important? Heck yes! It can be so important, so rich, so full of life and mystery and intensity in some stories that it becomes a virtual character. In others stories a unique setting provides the possibility for a story to exist that would simply not be able to take place in any other place. Think about Jaws and the sea, Huckleberry Finn and the river, Robinson Crusoe and the deserted island, or Dorothy in Oz. Think about Tolkien and Middle Earth, Robert Heinlein and space, George R. R. Martin and the Wall in Game of Thrones. Setting defines what can happen, how it can happen, who the players will be, and setting is often the ultimate source of a story’s conflict. In that sense Nantucket would be a great setting for a novel, a place that is small and contained with lots of big characters, perhaps something in the vein of Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News, or Tom McGuane’s The Sporting Club.”