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The Boston Globe

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First Person

Elin Hilderbrand on her latest Nantucket novel

Actual events from the island inspired the author, known as the “queen of the summer novel,” when writing Summerland.

For graduate school I ended up going to the University of Iowa, which is, of course, the best graduate writing program in the country. I was extremely miserable there — Iowa is extremely competitive — but I learned a lot about writing. I am a summer person. Iowa City is OK as Midwestern cities go, but there’s no food, no culture, no ocean. I WANTED TO CONNECT WITH NANTUCKET while not being there, so I started writing about it, to feel closer to my adopted home. At that point, there wasn’t a Nantucket novelist. I thought I could be a chronicler of Nantucket in the summertime.

The newest book is somewhat based on actual events. There was A STRING OF SUICIDES on Nantucket a few years ago. That got me thinking about the events that drive this novel — how a tragedy can make a tightknit community come together. I didn’t want to write about suicide, since I felt that had been done before; it was also too close to home.

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