What inspired you to write Now That You Mention It?
I wanted to write a book about the return of a black sheep, someone who felt she’d left her old self behind and started over somewhere else. We all have that fantasy at one point or another, right? Going to a place where no one remembers when we threw up in Mr. Sage’s class during a math test, or how Mark didn’t ask you to the prom…
I was also inspired by the setting, which is a (fictional) island off the coast of Maine. I’ve spent lots of time in the Pine Tree State, and I love so much the people there—their self-reliance, hardiness, reticence to talk about feelings. I realize I’m being general here, but there’s a certain Yankee persona that seems especially acute in Maine. The fact that it’s wicked pretty is just icing on the cake.
Nora Stuart is a Boston medical specialist dating a hot ER doctor. What attracts her to life in the big city?
It’s everything her childhood home was not. She gets an amazing scholarship and finally gets to be someone other than Lily’s sister or Sharon’s daughter. Remember the theme song from Cheers, all those years ago—where everybody knows your name? Well, the appeal of Boston to Nora is that it’s a place where no one knows her name. Not yet. She’ll make her own mark here.
After being hit by a car, Nora reexamines her present situation. Why is she drawn back to her tiny childhood community?
There’s a moment for most humans when we’re hurt or down on our luck and we have that primal feeling—I want my mother. That happens for Nora, almost shocking her, since she doesn’t think she needs her mom for much. The accident is a wake-up call to the idea that Nora has unfinished business back on Scupper Island, and that she needs her family more than she knew.
How does Nora’s perception of her family and herself change during her recuperation?
I think Nora’s boxed up her mother into a type in order to justify how her mom didn’t see how unhappy Nora was as a teenager. She starts to appreciate Sharon’s no-nonsense ways; she’s always respected her mother, but she felt invisible compared to her sister. She yearns for the days when she and Lily were close, but as she gets to know her sister’s teenager, she starts to learn what their life was really like.
As for herself, I think Nora starts to see that while she thought she could completely reinvent herself (she refers to her “Perez self” in honor of the man who gave her the scholarship), there’s a big part of her that she can’t—and shouldn’t leave behind. And the one person who seems to have no problem with the old Nora and this newer, more polished version is Sullivan Fletcher, the brother of Nora’s nemesis, Luke, who made her life so miserable in high school.
Are you currently at work on your next novel? If so, what may you share with us?
Actually, my next novel is in the hopper and comes out next summer—it’s called GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, a story of three friends who met in weight loss camp as teenagers and are reunited when one dies. Can’t wait for you to read that one! And of course, I’m working on another novel now.
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