This week, Macaroni Kid asks author Elizabeth de Veer of Georgetown FIVE QUESTIONS about her debut novel entitled The Ocean in Winter, which can be pre-ordered at Jabberwocky Bookstore in Newburyport, or wherever books are sold. The Ocean in Winter is the story of three adult sisters who, after twenty-five years, are still grappling with the after-effects of their mother’s suicide. And now, as one of the sisters pushes the family away, even when she needs them most, the other two sisters try to save her. But can they reach her in time? The Ocean in Winter is a story about love, loss, and what it means to be haunted.
Q: Where is The Ocean in Winter set?
A: The Ocean in Winter is about a family who grew up in Amesbury. One sister gets married and moves to Newburyport (but then ends up staying on Plum Island), another sister inherits a house in Newbury, and the third sister becomes a model in New York City, so the book is set in all of those places. I wrote the novel while sitting in a variety of local coffee shops while my daughter was very young. Originally, I had another location in mind, but I quickly realized that it would be hard to find the extra time to travel, so I decided to stay local. It turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to really study the landscape of the Merrimack River Valley, and the many moods and shades of winter around here.
Q: What genre is The Ocean in Winter?
A: I consider it women’s fiction or literary fiction, but there is a romance and a mystery, and those make it extra fun to read. But the story is primarily about four women, the three sisters and their mother, who died by suicide when they were children. I hope that women will read the story first for fun, and second as a chance to remember that as women, we need to remember to take care of not only our physical health but our mental and emotional health as well. When we are members of any kind of family, whether we are moms, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, our instinct is so often to take care of everybody except ourselves, but when we neglect our own hearts and souls, it hurts everybody.
Q: What inspired this novel?
A: It started with a trip that my husband and I took many years ago to Smith Island, Maryland, which is a small island with a tiny population in the Chesapeake Bay. I was struck by so many beautiful old houses around the island, many of them empty. I decided then that I wanted to write a ghost story. I did some research and learned that in the best literary ghost stories, the ghost reveals something important about the characters experiencing the haunting, and serves as a beginning of transformation. Usually that transformation is some sort of a descent into madness, but in this case, its change for the better.
Q: What’s the most exciting part about launching your debut novel into the world?
A: All of it! It’s very exciting. I have been writing long-form fiction (e.g. novels) for about seventeen years, and it is thrilling to think that something I wrote will finally find its way into bookstores, and that people will read my words.
Q: What advice would you give any mom authors out there who are working on their own creations?
A: Find time to write every day, even if it’s just a few minutes! And if you’re not a writer, try to find some way to be creative every day, because creative time is so important for your soul. I did a lot of collage during the real quarantine months last year, and it was so restorative to hunker down with glue and scissors and pictures, and just let my imagination wander! But if writing is your area, try to find a buddy or a writing group – I am involved with the Newburyport Writers’ Group (look for them on Facebook), and they’re wonderful.
Thank you so much for talking to me, Macaroni Kid!
Author Elizabeth de Veer is hosting a GIVEAWAY exclusively for Macaroni Kid Readers! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Macaroni Kid in the subject line, and you will be entered into a drawing for a signed Advance Reader’s Copy of The Ocean in Winter. If you’d like to receive a free promotional postcard, include your mailing address.
For more information, you can like Elizabeth de Veer’s Facebook page, follow @elizabethdeveerauthor on Instagram and go to elizabethdeveer.com to sign up for her newsletter.
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