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Q&A with Elin Hilderbrand

Author Elin Hilderbrand discusses how her home on Nantucket influenced our July Beach Read, Beautiful Day,

Elin Hilderbrand

Photo: Ted Tucker

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She's the queen of the beach read, with all 12 of her novels set on Nantucket, her year-round home. Her new page-turner, Beautiful Day (Reagan Arthur Books), continues that tradition.

You moved to the island 20 years ago. What hooked you?
EH: I can remember being on the ferry when it pulled into the harbor and first seeing the church steeples and gray shingles and sailboats, and I thought, "Oh my goodness, it's the perfect harbor town." And I remember lying on the white sand with the blue sky and the green eel grass and deciding this is heaven on Earth, and I'm never leaving.

You're there all year. What's that like?
EH: In summer, I'll go out 11 or 12 nights in a row because there are cocktail parties, benefits, theater. In winter, it's a small town. You know every single person in the grocery store, and that's nice.

Where do you write?
EH: I pack a lunch, get on my bike, and write on the beach. I spend all day writing longhand in notebooks. My books are truly beach books—they're written with sand on the pages.

So what's for lunch?
EH: There's a wonderful farm between my house and the beach. I like to get a lobster salad there. I pack my lunch, notebooks, and pen in my backpack and go.

What is your house like?
EH: A lot of salvaged materials, like old oars as stair railings. I live a scant mile from the beach; I can see the ocean from my second floor. I love being on an island where you feel like the ocean is holding you in the palm of its hand.

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