Six Things I Learned from an Island in Maine - guest post by Suzanne Woods Fisher
With guest Suzanne Woods Fisher
As I was gathering information to begin the writing of On a Summer Tide, I spent time roaming through remote islands along coastal Maine. Original research enhances a book in innumerable ways—from how the terrain looks, to the effects of weather, to unique and credible details gathered that only come from on-the-ground visits.
The effort and expense to travel across the country to Maine was well worth it. In fact, I would say it changed the story I had in mind and took it down a different path. I learned a few things about year-round island living, how seasons affect locals, how time is marked, and wove them in to make this story believable.
Here’s six things I learned from an island in Maine:
- Ferry time is the only clock that matters. A ferry is a lifeline to a remote island. These ferries probably aren’t coming from the mainland but from yet another island, and are dependent on good weather conditions. These ferries are small, passenger (and bikes) only. Lugging cars back and forth means a wait for a larger vessel, and it’s costly. Locals develop a sense for the arrival of the ferry, even before they hear its horn blast. One local woman described it as sensing a change in the wind. She can feel the ferry’s arrival before she sees it.
- Time shouldn’t be a dictator. Island time is a real thing. While traipsing through these islands, my watch came off, my phone got forgotten more than a few times. Unhooking was nice, it was relaxing. It made me realize that there’s more margin than we think in our day…or maybe there should be.
- We can live without a lot. Come winter, when the ferry stops running, a pantry should be well stocked…or locals do without. They have a clever skill at making do with whatever is on hand and can get pretty creative in the process. Did you know that duct tape, an island necessity, is better than tweezers to pull a splinter out of a finger?
- It’s a very good thing to discover the difference between needs and wants. You might not find everything you want on an island, but most likely, you’ll find everything you need. Most problems, I noticed on this research excursion, had been solved with duct tape. Broken vacuum hoses, cracks in windshields, leaky pipes, missing shoelaces. ;)
- On an island where shipments can be a little hit and miss, eating seasonally and locally is healthier, cheaper, and tastes so much better: just-picked blueberries, the day’s catch of lobsters, clams or scallops. (Nothing beats fresh lobster tail caught by local fisherman, soaked in melted butter.)
- There is strength in community. Americans make independence a cardinal virtue, but when you’re on an island that gets cut off from the mainland for a few months every year, there’s incredible value in developing and relying on community. Bottom line: People need people.
Yes, people need people. And authors need readers. On a Summer Tide is the first in a new series—a
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Jan here: Thank you, Suzanne, for a wonderful post and a glimpse into Island Life. I'm looking forward to reading this series!
And for the Seekervillagers, Suzanne is graciously offering a copy of "On a Summer Tide" to one commenter! Your choice of paperback or e-book! Just let us know in your comment if you want to be entered in the drawing.
Christy award nominee Suzanne Woods Fisher writes stories that take you to places you’ve never visited—one with characters that seem like old friends. But most of all, her books give you something to think about long after you’ve finished reading it. With over one million copies of her books sold worldwide, Suzanne is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, ranging from non-fiction books, to children’s books, to novels and lives with her very big family in northern California.
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