Author interview: Amy Sue Nathan

I met Amy Sue Nathan through the WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association) and decided to read her latest book, The Last Bathing Beauty. I’m glad I did. It’s set at a Jewish summer resort on the shores of Lake Michigan, MI, and goes back and forth in time between 1951 and today. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age story that reflects some of the major ways in which our thinking has changed over the decades and the ways in which it hasn’t. In this novel, the influence of family means that the protagonist has to abandon her dreams and deal with the reckoning decades later.

It’s a perfect book club book, with plenty to discuss, but what stuck with me was the well-delineated characters and the seamlessly structured weaving of the stories. By the way, the Kindle version of The Last Bathing Beauty is available throughout December for $1.99, so you can download a copy now. Having enjoyed it so much, I asked Amy about it.

GC: I’d never heard of a summer resort like the Stern Resort, other than in the Catskills, and wondered how you came across the idea of setting your novel in Michigan. 

Old South Haven resort

ASN: I was introduced to the SW Michigan shore about 9 years ago and knew right away I wanted to set a novel there. After I’d begun thinking about this story, I discovered South Haven by a happy accident when I was doing some online research. When I visited South Haven, I met someone who grew up there in the fifties and she had many stories and lots of background material that helped me finish the book. So, I no longer believe in accidents. Some things are meant to be.

GC: How long have you been writing? Is this your first historical novel? 

ASN: I’ve always been a writer, and have been blogging about writing women’s fiction for several years at http://womensfictionwriters.com/. I started writing fiction in 2006. The Last Bathing Beauty is my first work of historical fiction and I’m hooked! My books tend to be about families and the ways they impact our lives, so one can write them in any period.

GC: Your story spans 1951 to today. What issues did you have in painting the picture of these two different social environments and the character attitudes over that time?

ASN: I took the treacherous route and wrote each timeline separately and then wove them together. As well as visiting South Haven, I did oral history and book research to get it right. The local historical association and the South Haven library had a wealth of background information.

GC: Novels with different timelines are notoriously difficult, so are you a plotter or pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants)?

ASN: I’m a 100% panster but I know my story in my head before I begin. If I know the ending, all I have to do is get there.

GC: What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

ASN: Definitely weaving the timelines!

GC: And finally, what are you working on now?

ASN: I just finished writing Well Behaved Wives due out in November 2021. It’s set in 1962 Philadelphia.

You can connect with Amy via her website, or on Instagram and Pinterest.

Writers’ Rendezvous: September update – part 1

So happy to see twenty or so members at today’s Rendezvous. I love the way people stay on after, to ask questions, introduce themselves and generally have a good time. Partly because of the local super-event, the Saugatuck StoryFest, which is happening soon, I’ve split this update into two. Here’s Part 1.

The Pequot Library is presenting From Tension to Tenderness: Healing the Mother/Adult Daughter Relationship, tomorrow, Thursday, September 19, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Hear from member Marlou Newkirk and her daughter Laurie, the co-founders of motherrr.com, which focuses on healing this dynamic relationship.
This Saturday, September 21, take advantage of the free monthly Memoir Writing Workshop with Brian Hoover, 10:30-12:00, in the Bridgeport Library’s History Center, 925Broad Street, 3rd floor.

SFest

Saugatuck StoryFest takes place September 27-28.  (With one exception, below). There’s much to interest readers, but of special interest to writers are: Continue reading

Westport Writers’ Rendezvous: August update – Part 1

51tDpVmnPWL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_Twenty writers attended out meeting yesterday – and they had a lot to share. Mary Grace Dembeck’s children’s book, I’m Mad at the Moon, was published this month, Richard Seltzer has a publishing contract, and member V.P. Morris is launching her first weekly podcast series on August 27. The Dead Letters Podcast is a suspenseful audio drama in 25-minute episodes, focusing on the lives of five women who, over history, have received mysterious letters that warn of death and destruction if they don’t do exactly as the sender says. Find it on all the main podcast platforms: PodBean, iTunes, Google Play Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher

Gotham Writers in NYC offers writing courses in a wide variety of genres, and for all levels of expertise.  To encourage you to take a look, they are offering a free course to the winner of their 27-word Story-in-a-Bottle contest. Imagine finding a bottle Continue reading