Set Sail with Jennifer Fromke on A Familiar Shore

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Katy Lee here with Jennifer Fromke. She’s here to share  about A Familiar Shore, her latest book that just happens to take place around Memorial Day. Did we plan that just right, or what?! I’m excited to hear how Jennifer did her research for this exciting story, so take it away, Jennifer!

Thank you, Katy, for having me on the Scribes! A long time ago, back when I was only thinking about writing, I decided contemporary fiction would be the easier route because there would be no research. Remember, I said it was a long time ago…I was fairly naïve.

Obviously, all writing requires research. This quickly became a stark reality for me. Now I think writing a contemporary story may even require more research, because every reader is living in the same time period and everything must ring true.

So I began the process of researching as I began writing my debut novel. Thank goodness for the internet! My story takes place on and around several boats and the biggest blessing for me as I wrote A Familiar Shore turned out to be my best source of information about boats: my dad.

Growing up in Michigan, it seems like we were always on the water. Most fair weather weekends were spent either boating on the Great Lakes, or water skiing and sailing on one of the smaller lakes. Dad recently even spent one winter living on a boat in Florida. Boating is his hobby and he taught me a lot about them as I grew up. For example, I have an immovable sense about which side is Port and which is Starboard.

One of the main characters in my novel is an octogenarian who lives on an old yacht, travelling along the southeastern seaboard. So I wrote several scenes taking place on the yacht. I can’t count the number of times I emailed Dad asking something like this: “What do you call that thing in the pilot house that the captain uses for . . .” He was so patient with me! He always knew where to send me for further research, photos, etc . . .

Then I wrote an action scene in the novel, which takes place in the middle of a lake on a Hobie Cat. I needed Dad’s help to see what the boat would do in my scenario and how an inexperienced sailor might react. And again, there were several questions about what you call that “thing-y . . .”

While I like to talk to my dad fairly frequently, having this extra excuse was truly a blessing for me. Sometimes my questions would trigger a memory he recounted to me. Sometimes his answer would remind me just how wise and full of knowledge he is. I became extra grateful for a childhood largely punctuated by time on the water and I think this comes out in the novel.

As I write the next novel, which is strangely devoid of boats, I’m missing my “go-to” guy for research. It’s way more fun to talk with somebody I love about what I’m doing than it is to read from the internet all by myself. But I’m plugging away at it. With joy.

Question: Have you written about a topic in which your family or friends are experts?

Jennifer Fromke is a native Michigander, but writes from North Carolina these days. She is a Wheaton College graduate and loves nothing better than a few solitary hours with a great book and a latte.

In her debut novel, A Familiar Shore, we meet Meg Marks, a young lawyer raised off the coast of the Carolinas. An anonymous client hires her to arrange his will, and sends her to meet his estranged family at their lake home in northern Michigan. After a shocking discovery, she finds herself caught between his suspicious family and a deathbed promise her conscience demands that she keep. Will she sacrifice her own dreams for revenge, or will she choose something more?

A Familiar Shore is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Great to have you, Jennifer, on the Scribes! I hope you will come back again.

Readers: A Familiar Shore is an exciting story! And what better way to spend Memorial day on the lake in a boat! Ahhhhh! It’s just one click away, and you can be there, too!

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13 thoughts on “Set Sail with Jennifer Fromke on A Familiar Shore”

  1. Welcome, Jennifer. My research has taken me to places I’ve never been before, from the North High Country of Georgia for Savage Cinderella to Albany, NY for my dystopian I’m working on. I rely heavily on Google Earth to give me logistical data, but there is nothing like personal experience. I had to take a field trip and drive to Albany a few weeks ago to get a feel for what the trip would be like for my characters before I could write the scene. I might only use a few paragraphs of the description, but the sense that I know the city will be invaluable for infusing details into the story. I also need to pick a certain geneticist friend’s brain about some tricky science stuff I’m trying to get right. It’ so great to have those resources available to us. I remember sitting in the library for hours as a kid pouring over giant encyclopedias trying to find those bits of information needed to complete school reports. What a different world we live in today! Thanks for sharing your journey with us and good luck with your writing.

  2. Hi Jennifer! Thanks so much for sharing. This book sounds really good. I love that it has a lot to do with sailing and takes place a lot on the water. I’ve always wanted to try sailing as I just love the water. I really look forward to reading your book in our book club! Thanks Katy for having Jennifer on your blog! Megan S.

  3. I’ve never sailed, but love being on or around the water. Your pictures are beautiful. I love that your dad was such a big part of the research process. I’m having a lot of fun researching for a new book I’m plotting, but can’t share those details yet. :)

  4. This was so much fun to read!! I have never been on a boat but would like to too one day. I totally agree with you Jennifer thank God for the internet. I’m using it alot for the research I’m doing for my debut novel as well. A Familiar Shore is already on my TBR list.

  5. Hi Jennifer, thank you for visiting and sharing. It sounds like you have had some good times infusing your experiences in your writing. I write historical romance, this my first, based on truth. I spent three years researching before I put a word to paper. I am an historian, so it is a love to discover the past and its effects on the present. Your photos are gorgeous.

    1. The photos are courtesy of Katy Lee. :-) I love them too! I always enjoy historical fiction and I SOOO appreciate the excellent research behind them. Best of luck to you in the research!

  6. Thank you everyone for stopping by today on this Memorial Day weekend. We appreciate your views and responses! A little FYI about the photos of the sailboats…they were stock. :) But I agree, they were quite pretty.

    Jennifer, it has been lovely to hear about On Familiar Shore and how you came by some of your research, especially that it was so special with your dad. Thank you for sharing a little bit about yourself and your story. We hope you will come back again with your next release!

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