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?
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!