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.