Blended families are the norm these days. Although some siblings and step-siblings find it difficult to relate, others become close by reaching out to each other even when distance separates them. Texting, email, Facebook and Skype certainly have made staying connected easier than in years past, but technology doesn’t alleviate the demands on our time when balancing work and family! Making the effort to communicate can help blended and extended families put aside differences when strife arises, and pull together as one harmonious unit.
This month’s Jen’s Jewels Nancy Thayer addresses this very topic in her latest release, Island Girls. It’s the story of three step-sisters who come together to mourn the passing of their beloved father, and learn through his colorful past the true meaning of family. Set in the rustic locale of Nantucket, this tender story of hope, love, and forgiveness is the perfect companion for a hot, summer day on the beach.
As part of this interview, Ballantine Books, a division of the Random House, has generously donated five copies for you, my favorite readers, to try to win. So, don’t forget to look for the trivia question at the end of the column. Good luck! Be sure to keep up-to-date on all the latest news in the publishing business by stopping by www.jennifervido.com or follow me on Facebook jennifervido.com or Twitter @JenniferVido. And as always, thanks for making Jen’s Jewels a part of your reading adventure.
Jen: As a New York Times bestselling author, your stellar career is quite impressive. So that my readers may catch a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the words, please briefly share with us your educational and professional background.
Nancy: I grew up in Kansas, attended Wichita University, and received my B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. I read and wrote in my spare time while I taught freshman composition at various community colleges and universities and had two children before achieving the long-desired, magnificent prize of having my first novel, Stepping, published by Doubleday. After that, I wrote constantly. I’ve published 24 novels.
Jen: Please describe for us your “Aha!” moment when you decided to become an author.
Nancy: When I was four years old and handed The Pokey Little Puppy Golden Book to read, I felt a connection, not like a bolt of lightning, but more like a key unlocking a door, to the magic of books and the meaning of my life. I never wanted to do anything else.
Jen: In terms of nuts and bolts, approximately how long does it take for you to write a novel? And, what is the most challenging part of the writing process?
Nancy: It takes me more or less a year to write a novel. The most challenging part of the writing process for me is sleeping at night. I don’t understand why I have to waste all that time sleeping when I could be reading or writing!
Jen: Island Girls is a truly engrossing novel depicting the emotional journey of three estranged step-sisters who inherit their Nantucket family home. How did you arrive at the premise?
Nancy: My sister and I share the same parents, but she’s nine years younger than I, a pretty blue-eyed blond baby who seemed quite spoiled to me. I both loved her and resented her. It’s taken years to talk through our family dynamics and even so, I don’t understand why certain things happened. But we have become best friends, and my life would be impoverished without her. Is there anything as much fun as laughing about your parents with your sister?
Jen: Let’s talk about the three main characters, all of which have a major stake in this house. Arden, a successful television host, is at a crossroad in her professional career when her father Rory passes away. How does his death cause her to examine her own life?
Nancy: I think any parents’ death causes us to stop and examine our lives. Arden’s father was loving, charming, charismatic—and an elusive, philandering, serial husband and father. She’s named her TV show Simplify This. After her father’s death, she learns that love of all kinds may not be simple, but still absolutely worthwhile.
Jen: Meg, a conscientious professor at a local community college, struggles with self-confidence issues which affect her professional and personal life. How does her interaction with her step-sisters affect her relationship with her family?
Nancy: Like Arden, Meg is not good at trusting, and she has been twice rejected, first by Rory Randall, and then by her stepfather and her own mother who becomes overwhelmed with children and a happy family life that doesn’t really include Meg. Over the summer on Nantucket, Meg finds healing in unexpected places.
Jen: Jenny, the IT specialist, has the most to lose or gain. How does her intense desire to foster a relationship with her step-sisters cloud her judgment concerning her mother’s betrayal?
Nancy: Ah, but that would be telling. . .Jenny learns, as do Arden and Meg, that loving someone includes a huge and not always easy amount of tolerance and forgiveness.
Jen: Of the three girls’ mothers, Nora, Cyndi, and Justine, whose relationship with her daughter is the most solid and why?
Nancy: Nora’s relationship with Arden is the most solid. Nora is practical, self-sufficient, forward-looking, and a bit sassy, and she’s raised her daughter to be that way, too. But her strong exterior hides a tender heart.
Jen: After spending the summer together, how have the girls’ opinions of their father Rory changed?
Nancy: Love—from our siblings, our lovers, our friends, and from people who appreciate our work and worth—helps the girls look at their father, and all of life, through a brighter, more generous, lens.
Jen: Let’s switch gears now and talk about your promotional plans. Please take us on a brief tour of your website highlighting points of interest.
Nancy: My website, nancythayer.com, changes with the seasons, because my web guru and I both love color and design. Right now my Home page is about the giveaway/contest I’m running until June 18. You can also find links to my bio, a list of my 24 published novels, “The Hot Flash Club,” and my daily blog.
Jen: Are you present in social media? And, what is the best way for your readers to keep abreast of the latest news.
Nancy: I adore Facebook! I post on it all the time, and I’ve made so many fascinating friends. I also pin on Pinterest—I love taking photos of this beautiful island.
Jen: Any chance for a sequel? And, are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?
Nancy: This fall my Christmas gift novel, A Nantucket Christmas, comes out. It was a challenge to write a slightly shorter novel, and a joy to describe the holiday season on Nantucket when Santa arrives by Coast Guard boat. I’m very excited about this. Now I’m writing Summer Sisters, set on Nantucket, which will be out in 2014. I don’t know whether I’ll do a sequel to Island Girls, but I like having my characters from other novels show up in little cameos now and then.
Jen: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with my readers. I absolutely loved Island Girls. I highly recommend it to my Jen’s Jewels readers. Bravo! Best of luck in all of your future projects, and happy summer!
Nancy: Thank you, Jen!
I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Nancy Thayer. Please stop by your favorite bookstore, online retailer, or library branch and pick up a copy of Island Girls today. Better yet, how would you like to win one instead? Okay, be one of the first five readers to email me at email@example.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question and you’ll win!
What are the names of the three step-sisters in Island Girls?
Later this month, I will be bringing you my interview with bestselling author Meg Donohue. You won’t want to miss it. Until next time…happy reading!