The night is blue and smells of lemons. Standing outside I listen to the waves and look up at the stars. I am far away from the place I grew up and it comforts and somehow surprises me to see the familiar constellations. "Arc to Arcturus," is one lesson my sisters and i learned. By following the curved handle of the Big Dipper, we found Arcturus, one of the brightest stars in the sky. It glows warm and orange, easy to admire with the naked eye, and part of the constellation Bootes. What is it that makes us want to identify the stars, find out way around the sky? Does it help us know where we are on earth, not in a precise latitude/longitude way, but our place in the universe? We are all here for so short a time. When i look at the stars I think of love. The stars tell a love story if only you spend the time to read it. This is how I want to live: at peace, guided by the stars. People far away look up and see the same celestial bodies at the same time, or hours apart. The sky brings us together, not only with the living but also the dead.
As a child I spent much time there with family friends. Later I found summer jobs, ways of staying on the island for blissful summers while writing about my experience. My go-to positions were babysitting and being a chambermaid.
I was fourteen. Beach nights were secret and wonderful. Older kids would build a bonfire. Someone always had a guitar. We would surfcast and swim; one July night I felt the the scrape of something cold on my leg, and I had no doubt I'd just been touched by a passing shark.
On rainy days I'd take the kids to the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs, the oldest platform carousel in America. It arrived on the island in 1884. I'd ride the merry-go-round with the kids and feel free and happy and somehow nostalgic in a way I hadn't yet understood.
All of these experiences went in deep. When I wrote The Silver Boat, about three sisters who return to their island home, the only place they've ever been happy together, I drew on memories, dreams, that elusive nostalgia, and love of my own private Martha's Vineyard.
The character of Harrison--the sisters' best childhood friend--seems to be a favorite of early readers of the novel. I can't wait to introduce you to him--and the real-life best friend who inspired him.
The novel continues in Ireland, home of the sister's long-gone father, and the site of a family secret, but that's another blog post... (and so is Harrison!)