I’m crazy about Virginia Kantra. Not just about her New York Times Bestselling books, but about Virginia herself. Besides being my neighbor, a fellow writer and a passionate fan of the Carolina coast, she’s a truly nice person. I think you’ll get that from her post here today. Be sure to comment to enter her contest.

Without further ado, here’s Virginia!

 

 

 

 

Growing up, we always took family vacations to the beach: to the sticky boardwalks of New Jersey with their rattling rides and haunted houses, redolent with popcorn and coconut oil. To the cold, seaweedy beaches of New England, where the views and the water temperature steal your breath away.  I remember hunting in the tide pools with my sister for razor clams and hermit crabs while our toes turned white.

While my family was vacationing on Cape Cod, my husband was growing up near Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, while his dad was jungle training in Panama. His beach memories are very different from mine: the old style wooden snack bar of Onslow Beach on base with the juke box playing the Stones’ “Satisfaction”; night fishing off the pier at Surf City; watching snakes swim under the swing set after a hurricane.

For  years after we were married, I insisted the only “proper” vacation was the beautiful, rocky coast of my childhood. But finally, after our own children came along, my husband persuaded me to try a beach in North Carolina. Just one week, he coaxed. Just this year.

And I fell in love. “Just this year” became every year, and our children’s memories are of white sand castles and long, rolling breakers, of pelicans and dolphins sporting above and in the waters just off shore, of Dairy Queen drive-throughs and cut-throat games of miniature golf.

One of the things I love about Diane’sbooks is her marvelous sense of place. When I’m reading her novels, I can easily imagine myself in Beaufort or Raleigh. Okay, maybe that’s not such a stretch. I know Beaufort, and I live in Raleigh. I’ve even been to that Brier Creek parking lot in The Good Father! But Diane’s details always ring true, and her observations of setting add to the richness and authenticity of her characters.

When I set out to create my own fictional setting of Dare Island, I mined my own experience for that same kind of detail. Dare Island (named for Virginia Dare, the first child born to English parents in North America) is a fictional island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. But its inspiration is everywhere from Manteo to Hatteras, Ocracoke to Swan Quarter, in Emerald Isle, Topsail Beach, Fort Fisher, and Southport.

I love talking to people, strangers, about their lives: the girl behind the counter in the gift shop, the couple running their own bed and breakfast, the teacher in the parking lot, the fisherman coming in with his catch at the end of the day. My new release, Carolina Home, tells the story of three generations of the hardworking, sometimes quarrelsome, but always devoted Fletcher family amid the changing tides that sweep their tight-knit community. Change is coming for the Fletchers, too, but they stand together. Like the islands themselves, they endure. They love. I hope you enjoy their stories! (You can read a first chapter excerpt  here.)

Where’s your favorite escape, in real life or in your imagination? Beach or mountains? North or south? Do you go with your family or solo? Do you have a favorite beach memory?

Leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Carolina Home and a “souvenir” of North Carolina, a Murano glass key chain.

41 Comments

  1. Margo on June 25, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Virginia, how did I ever miss you as an author? I LOVE reading about the Sea which is my escape both actual and in my imagination. As a Midwestern Country Girl, it takes planning for my husband and I to venture to the coast but I live and breathe the ocean all the time through the books I read and the canvas’s I paint. As an artist, I continually paint the seashore which probably is an omen that we should move to the sandy beaches but for now we are happy and know that we can always travel to see the gorgeous blues of the sea. Diane, thank you so much for introducing Virginia to your readers. I now look forward to reading a new author who has a passion for water like me! (-:)

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Diane, thanks so much for having me visit! And thank you all so much for coming out to play!

      Margo, I was born in Ohio and attended Northwestern, so I totally understand how a Midwestern girl can long for the sea…although I did have Lake Michigan outside my dorm windows.

  2. Ann on June 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I am so excited to be introduced to a new author. These books seem to take place in some of my favorite places – the North Carolina beaches. That is where my husband and I go for vacations and where we have an annual family reunion with sisters, children, grandchildren and pets! Our memories of those times are so special and will be with us forever.
    I am going out to look for these books and pre order Carolina Home [if possible] today.
    Thanks Diane for the introduction and “Glad to meet you Virginia”!

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Nice to meet you, too, Ann!
      You can definitely preorder Carolina Home. (And if you win the drawing here, I’ll happily swap out a back list book of your choice.)

  3. Hailey on June 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Virginia, you sound like you write amazing stories. I love finding out about new authors. Murano glass beads are so beautiful and I’m sure the key chain will be too! If I win this contest, I will rave your story to the best of my abilities. If you’re friends with Diane Chamberlain, I’m sure you two write along the same lines. 🙂

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks, Hailey! I’ll be flattered if you find similarities between my work and Diane’s. I’m a huge fan of hers!

  4. Barbara on June 25, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I think it will be great fun to read your books! And you’ve got me very curious about how Murano glass comes to be a souvenir of North Carolina! I love to sit in front of any body of water and just stare at it, or into it, whether it be the sparkles on the bay, the coming & going of the tides, or any other form the water may take. But I also love green spaces full of trees and birds and other animals.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm

      Barbara, to be honest, I picked the keychain because it had the same colors of my book cover. 🙂 And I love Murano glass.
      I love the many moods of water, too.

  5. Barb on June 25, 2012 at 11:52 am

    After reading your blog, I’m going straight to Amazon to look for your books! And being a die-hard Diane Chamberlain fan, if she recommends your work–I’m sold. 🙂

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      Barb, thank you so much! Happy reading! I hope you enjoy!

  6. Audrey Curlee on June 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Can’t wait to get started on your books. They sound very interesting and definately my type of read. Thanks to Diane for always keeping us up on exciting authors!!

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Hi, Audrey, I replied to you, um…somewhere down there. And I have to thank Diane, too, for letting me hang out with her wonderful friends and readers today!

  7. Joy Allen on June 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    My favorite get away would be with a wonderful man at an isolated beach during the winter. I love to walk on the beach looking for shells or sea glass. Sitting in front of a fire, watching the waves come in soothes my soul. Being in the arms of someone I love who understands this need in me would be a dream come true.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      LOVE sea glass, Joy. And what a lovely dream you paint!

  8. Stephanie h. on June 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Diane – thanks so much for this blog post with Virginia. I adore her and her books very much. I’m super excited because Carolina Home is almost here. Yay!! It seems I’ve been waiting forever to take a trip with Virginia and her wonderful stories. Let’s see, I’m a NY gal and while growing up we took vacations all over, there was always a beach day, weekend, or week. From trips to Coney Island or Quogue, to the Outerbanks, Cape Cod, and Cape May — sun, sand, surf, sunscreen, seafood, and the smell of the ocean — I love the mountains. That being said, and if I had my druthers I’d always have at least one beach vacation, but most of all I would like to travel upstate NY and stay in the mountains, lakeside — with family always. Thanks again for hosting Virginia today — I’m ready to visit Dare Island and read Carolina Home!!
    cheers,
    stephanie

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Stephanie, smooches! Hope you love Carolina Home. Have you read Diane’s latest, The Good Father, yet? Fabulous characterizations!!!

  9. Lynne on June 25, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    I can’t wait to start reading this series. I love your books and recommend them to all my reading buddies.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Oh, Lynne, thank you so much! One of the joys of this series for me is telling the Fletchers’ story not only through the viewpoints of the main couple, but also from the perspective of matriarch Tess and ten-year-old Taylor. I hope you enjoy!

  10. Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Audrey, I’m delighted to be here! Thanks for checking out my books.

  11. Betty on June 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I met you at the Cameron Village Library at a reading with two other writers quite a few years ago and have a copy of Close Up that you signed for me. I am happy to have found you again and look forward to catching up with all you’ve been doing.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      Betty, how nice to “see” you again! It’s great to be back setting stories in NC!

  12. Debbie Hearne on June 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    If Diane is crazy about you, then I’m sure I will be too! My favorite place to visit in NC is Sunset Beach. There is a B&B there named The Sunset Inn. They have nice porches with rocking chairs that you can just relax in. I declare that I heard that place calling my name a few days ago!

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Oooh, oooh, I know that beach! And it’s wonderful. Hope you can get away soon!

  13. Sheree Gillcrist on June 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    When my marriage was on life support and all that was left to do was decide who was going to pull the plug I drove 5 hours to Lunenburg Nova Scotia, A fishing village and artist’s colony on the coast of Nova Scotia to seek some clarity and to let the sea sing it’s soft songs of sorrow to my frazzled mind. I went alone and checked into a tiny motel high on a hill that looked out over the water at the clipper ships that are still made there and I dreamed of going to sea in ships. For a week I wandered it’s rocky shores alone among the fog and mist like the ghost that my soul had already become. So different from the racous times I had spent there as an emcee at the annual Folk Music Festival each summer .Folding into myself like an abandoned barn in a field fastened to the earth by fields of hay, I carried a notebook with me in a zip log plastic bag and wrote my way back to the girl I used to be. It was one of the most defining times of my life and after I left I knew that Lunenburg had claimed a piece of me. My ship didn’t go down with the storm. I lived to sail another day. And the sea shall free them. No one knows that better than me.
    Virginia, I look forward to reading your books. Thank you Diane for bringing another wonderful writer into our lives.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Sheree, thank you for making me feel so welcome and for sharing your story.

      • Sheree Gillcrist on June 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

        Virginia. When Diane says someone is good then we all follow. I wish you great joy and success:}

  14. Kathy on June 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Virginia,

    I am so glad to discover another author! I can’t wait to read your books. I love the ocean. As I was growing up we went to Florida many times to visit my grandparents. As an adult, I take a girlfriends vacation to Fripp Island in South Carolina. We love it. We don’t go every year – our next trip is planned for the summer of 2013. I love to sit on the beach, close my eyes and listen to the ocean roar and the seagulls sing. I haven’t seen any sea glass, but the last time we went I was able to find many hard to find sea shells. I have a bluegreen fiesta platter filled with the shells on top of my buffet. Always a great reminder of the sea.

    P.S. I was born, raised, and live in Ohio.

    Kathy

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Hi, Kathy! Sea glass is much more common in the rocky north than the sandy south. There’s a beach on one of the Maine islands where the residents cart their glass recyclables and smash them on the rocks. Old Noxema jars are especially prized because they yield rare blue glass!

      Nice to connect with another Buckeye!

  15. mary branham on June 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I don’t know how I missed reading your books either but I love the beach and books about it.
    I also love diannes books.

    My go to place is Venice Beach Fl. Love it there.
    Cannot wait to get to the library to start reading your books.

    • Virginia Kantra on June 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks, Mary! I’ve never been to Venice Beach. Hope they’re weathering Debbie okay!
      Happy reading!

  16. O Norman on June 25, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    This looks like it’ll be a great book.
    O Norman
    [email protected]

  17. Virginia Kantra on June 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting! The winner of a copy of CAROLINA HOME and the keychain, chosen by my old friend, Random Number Generator, is…Barb!

    Barb, you can email me through my website

    http:virginiakantra.com

    or message me through Facebook

    http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaKantraBooks

    with your address to collect your prize!

    Diane, thanks again for the chance to visit you and your readers! I had a great time.

  18. Virginia Kantra on June 26, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Ooops. A working website link would help.

    http://virginiakantra.com

    Virginia, slinking away now

  19. Diane Chamberlain on June 26, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    It was fun having you here, Virginia, and thanks to everyone for an enthusiastic response!

  20. Cindy on June 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Diane and Virgina, you join another favorite author of mine describing North Carolina. Kathy Reichs also makes me want to move there. Virgina I look forward to reading your work.

  21. Mandi on June 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    My favorite escape is the Outer Banks, which also holds my favorite memory… my wedding!

    My husband and I decided on OBX for our beach wedding and have now “converted” many members of our family who used to vacation at other beaches. Not that I don’t love anything close to the ocean, but OBX will always hold the most special place in our hearts.

    I am so excited to check out your book, Virginia. I am off to Barnes & Noble to order a copy of Carolina Home. Yay!

  22. Virginia Kantra on June 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

    I’m writing an OBX wedding into Carolina Girl. What a perfect venue! Thanks, Mandi, and I hope you enjoy Matt and Allison’s storyi!

  23. Pat Matejcek on July 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Thank you so much for introducing me to a new writer. I would love to be entered in the contest. Thanks again..

  24. Betty Bard on July 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    CAN’T WAIT TO BEGIN READING A NEW-TO-ME AUTHOR. WE HAVE BEEN VACATIONING IN THE OBX SINCE WE WERE MARRIED IN THE 60’S – THAT’S 50 YEARS AGO! AND I LOVE READING STORIES WITH A BEACH/COAST/LOW-COUNTRY LOCATION, FICTITIOUS OR REAL..

  25. Sarah Rhiannon Jhnson on July 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    A recommendation by Diane Chamberlain is certainly a recommendation to take seriously! You are now top of my list of authors to try!

    Having lived in Germany for almost 8 years, I have just returned to my homeland – Wales. It is very true that you do not realize what you have until it has gone. In Germany we embraced their way of life and immersed ourselves in the culture and everything else it had to offer. We did enjoy our time there but it wasn’t ‘home’, and we didn’t feel like we belonged there.

    Now back in Wales, we have bought a house in the Rhondda Valleys and as I walk to the train station for my forty minute commute to work, I take in the rolling hills and mountains behind, and the greenness of everything around me. I appreciate what I have now and I now have the sense of feeling like this is what I have been looking for.

    Never give up on your dreams and always listen to your heart xxx

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