Shelley Noble is the author of the new novel A Beach Wish. Her other novels include Whisper Beach and Beach Colors. She lives at the Jersey Shore.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the family you write about in A Beach Wish?
A: I was kicking around ideas about what happens when your less than perfect, but adequate and fairly comfortable, life gets upended by things out of your control. So I came up with the Bascombes. A well–to-do Long Island family. A mother, divorced, but a community paragon; adult children on the expected path to success . . . Until the mother dies, exposing a secret, that will reshuffle the family deck big time.
Q: The novel takes place at a resort and a former commune in a New England beach town. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: I try not to use setting just as a backdrop, but as an interactive entity with my characters. Setting becomes a character in all my novels. It influences, threatens, calms, inspires, and challenges the people in my stories. And it’s seen through my characters’ eyes.
Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end before you start writing them, or do you make many changes along the way?
A: Both. I know my destination, but sometimes the route changes. I know that it will have at least a hopeful ending. My endings never are “tied up with a bow” which drives some readers crazy. But life isn’t like that. We’re all on a different place on our journeys, but I do try to make each character’s journey end on a positive note. And leave the future to the reader’s imagination.
Q: What are some of your favorite beaches?
A: There are so many. Big Sur, Nantucket, Brigantine, Montauk. I like beaches with landscape. Since I’m not a sun worshipper—I like to walk, and read, and explore—I spend a lot of time at New England beaches; there’s so much to discover.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve just finished Lucky’s Beach, which takes place in Delaware, though I borrowed my favorite Delaware stops to make the imagined Lucky’s Beach. Three school teachers take a detour from their two-week adults-only vacation to hunt down a wayward relative, only to change their plans in order to help save the quaint town’s most closely guarded secret.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I love it when a reader says or writes that they felt uplifted by my stories. I’m totally into stories that challenge and inspire; characters that rise to the occasion, and make us feel hopeful at the end.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb