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Elin Hilderbrand on resilience and routine

Elin HilderbrandHandout

The mega best-selling writer Elin Hilderbrand, who typically publishes at least two novels a year, says the pandemic has yet to slow her down. “This is when it’s clear how blessed I am to be this weird, disciplined person,” she says. On June 20, Hilderbrand publishes her 25th novel, “28 Summers.” Like nearly all her books, it is set on Nantucket Island, where she lives with her three children. She plans to sign books every Wednesday this summer at Mitchell’s Book Corner.

BOOKS: Has the pandemic influenced your writing schedule at all?

HILDERBRAND: I was in the Virgin Islands from March 11 to April 27. I go every year for a little writer’s retreat on my own. Normally my time there is half refuge and half revelry. I work and then go downtown and have rum punches. I had one week when restaurants were open and then the governor closed the beaches and hiking trails. This served my novel well because I couldn’t go out at night. I wasn’t hung over. I ran each morning and worked by the pool at my villa. I turned [the new book] in not long after I got back. This is the third book in my Paradise series.

BOOKS: Has it changed the release of your new book?


HILDERBRAND: I was supposed to go on tour June 15 but now that will be all virtual. I have all these fun things I do for my tours, like I pick an outfit for each stop and tell the readers in advance so they can match the color. We will still do that virtually. I’ll make an appetizer for each virtual reading and give the recipe out in advance so everyone makes the same appetizer. We’ll make it fun.

BOOKS: Did you feel the pandemic influenced your writing in any way?


HILDERBRAND: The interesting thing about the Virgin Islands is they had back-to-back hurricanes in 2017. They have the emotional muscle developed to cope. So the pandemic was initially treated like no big deal there. That really rubbed off on me. On Nantucket we didn’t have any new cases for 23 days and then we got one and everyone freaked out. It feels much more scary here.

BOOKS: What have you been reading?

HILDERBRAND: “Saint X,” a debut novel by Alexis Schaitkin. I saw it at Logan on my way to St. John’s. It’s about a family vacationing on a Caribbean island and one daughter disappears. I also read “French Exit” by Patrick deWitte, which I enjoyed, and George Saunders’s “Lincoln in the Bardo.” That is the strangest book I have ever read. And I read “The Seed Collectors” by the British writer Scarlett Thomas. It’s brilliantly written, kind of like “Fleabag” crossed with “Flowers in the Attic.”

BOOKS: What have you been watching or listening to?

HILDERBRAND: I started “Schitt’s Creek” in St. John and am hooked. I’m also watching “Ozark” and I’m also a big fan of “Better Things” with Pamela Adlon. I’m a little concerned that Hollywood will run out of new content because of the pandemic. I have a book in the process of being optioned so I know Hollywood is at least reading stuff. On St. John, I listened to a lot of Kenny Chesney, who is a seasonal person there. I also discovered a new band, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, and their song “All That and More.” I promise you will love it. At 50, I would have said I’m to old to pick up a new band. This is my quarantine find.


BOOKS: What are you working on next?

HILDERBRAND: A book about a writer who’s 51, gets killed in a hit-and-run, and goes up to the great beyond. From there she can follow her kids’ lives. I have done all these other things, but not the spiritual afterlife. It will not be pandemic related. I’d like to have it set in the regular world.

BOOKS: Has being a cancer survivor affected how you think of the pandemic?

HILDERBRAND: It would be naïve to say no. I think of it a lot this time of year because I was diagnosed on May 22. As far as the pandemic goes, I have a little sense of invincibility. Not that I’m not going to get the virus but that my threshold for panic is high because I’ve already survived something.

Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @GlobeBiblio. Amy Sutherland is the author, most recently, of “Rescuing Penny Jane’’ and she can be reached at amysutherland@mac.com.