Q: The writer RaeAnne Thayne called The Shell Collector "a beautiful, emotional story about the glorious sunrise that can come after a dark night, about surviving loss and finding hope and joy again." What do you think of that description?
A: That quote brought such joy to my heart. Sometimes when you’re faced with loss or disappointment, it can be hard to believe there might be brighter days ahead.
In this book, Amanda and Paul are both broken in their own ways, but they are able to find solid footing and happiness through friends and community. There are some sad moments in the story, but there are also giggles and joy and that’s what I want readers to trust—that there is a happy ending not just in books but in days to come for all of us.
Q: You write, "This story had been pressing on my heart to be told since the year I lost my husband." Why did you eventually decide to write this novel, and what impact did writing it have on you?
A: Since the loss of my husband in 2014, it’s shocking how many other widows have crossed my path. In the moments we’ve shared in uplifting one another, I have felt so blessed, because we have shared something that I find really hard to put into words, but that I treasure.
From those experiences, I was driven to write this story in the hope that it will bring strength to those experiencing grief, and wisdom and compassion to those who are helping others through it. The story is complete fiction, but the emotions were drawn from my personal sorrow and struggles. By sharing it, I continue to heal and grow.
Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?
A: I didn’t know how the novel would end when I first came up with the story, but by the time I sat down to write it, I did. I’ve become a pretty good plotter, but the stories still surprise me with the little details along the way. The beach cottage sign was kind of a last-minute thought, but it turned out to be such a sweet way to honor Maeve.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: I hope readers who have recently experienced loss find themselves connecting with the characters in this book and borrowing strength in their actions.
In general, I hope the story reminds readers to open their eyes to everything around them. Sometimes it can be an unlikely person or situation right there and ready to help us that we overlook.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on two projects that will release in 2022: What Remains True for WaterBrook is about a woman on sabbatical after her divorce. She stops in a small mountain town and learns that the first step in starting over is not overthinking it.
The Wedding Ranch for St. Martin’s Press is about twins who beg their uncle for a small plot of land that has old tobacco barns on it so that they can create a wedding venue. The events that take place there change their lives and the lives of those around them.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Sand Dollar Cove, a movie based on my novel of the same title, will premiere on Hallmark Channel as part of the Summer Nights programming on 6/26.
I would also love it if readers would pay a visit to my website and enjoy the free excerpt and games related to The Shell Collector. www.nancynaigle.com/theshellcollector
Thank you so much!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb