1--What is the title of your latest release?
2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?
The Darlings is about a family gathering at their Cape Cod beach house for a summer wedding, told from the viewpoint of three generations of women. One has been keeping a secret, one wants to tell it, and the youngest have no idea what this secret will do to their senses of identity and places in the family they thought they knew.
3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?
All my books take place in small New England coastal communities, and this one takes place in Chatham, Cape Cod. I grew up in Connecticut, but my family spent many summers vacationing on the Cape. These days I bring my own children. My settings are much like characters in my books. Each one I write, it feels like coming home.
4--Would you hang out with your protagonist in real life?
It depends on which one! There are three in The Darlings: great grandmother Tish, grandmother Cora, and young mother Andi. For me, the matriarch, Tish Darling is terrifying, but I also have a lot of respect for her and all she’s been through as a first-generation immigrant and mother thrown into an upper class society that was not very welcoming. Andi is the character I’d most likely hang out with. We’re of similar age, mothers of teenage daughters, and we’ve both been through divorce. I understand her struggle to begin a new chapter in her life while carefully protecting her daughter as they navigate change together.
5--What are three words that describe your protagonist?
I’ll go with Tish for this one: complicated, maternal, fierce
6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?
I learned that point of view is critical in understanding people’s motives- what looks spiteful on the outside might actually come from a place of deep compassion within. I also learned the fierceness of love, whether it be a mother’s love for her child or the love we hold for a spouse. There are things we would do for those we love that we’d never do for ourselves.
7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?
A bit of both- each morning I like to start writing by rereading the pages I wrote the day before, and I’ll tweak as I go through them. It helps me wade back into writing, sort of like warming up the car on a cold day. And it prevents me from having a major overhaul at the end.
8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?
Oysters and a tart craft cocktail.
9--Describe your writing space/office!
When I built my house, I carved a writing room into the design. The room is small, but the windows are big, and it overlooks a field. It’s minimalist with coastal vibes- pale blue walls, high ceiling, sisal area rug. There’s a writing desk in the center, a tall white bookcase of my novels, a slipcovered wingback chair for one dog and a bed at my feet for the other. Must write with dogs.
10--Who is an author you admire?
Sarah Addison Allen. Her books are so special; you feel like you’re engaging both Mother Earth and magic on each page.
11--Is there a book that changed your life?
There are two: Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate diCamillo. I was a fourth-grade teacher reading it aloud to my class, and it made me realize that as much as I loved teaching, I had to write. Stephen King’s On Writing made me realize that I could.
12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)/Or, for indie authors, when you decided to self-publish.
It was fall 2007 and I still had a land line and an answering machine. I’d written two middle grade novels and finally secured a children’s agent in LA. For months we’d edited and we picked one to submit to several publishing houses in New York. Right before submission, my agent called to say she had second thoughts- it wasn’t quite ready. I gave myself one night to cry. But the next day, despite my fears, I called her back. I agreed to revise anything she wanted me to, but I also asked her to please send it out anyway, to just one house. Two weeks later she called and left a message saying that Farrar Strauss & Giroux wanted it. And that they wanted to know if I had anything else they could read. They offered us a two-book deal. My family yelled so loud I had to replay her message three times to hear the whole thing through. Then I called my parents and they drove over, and we did it all again.
13--What’s your favorite genre to read?
14--What’s your favorite movie?
I’ve got two: Four Weddings and a Funeral and A River Runs Through It
15--What is your favorite season?
Summer but fall is right on its heels, no pun intended
16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?
Intimate family dinner on the patio of a favorite restaurant overlooking a lake. It’s tradition
17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?
Shows-Only Murders in the Building & Succession, Book-Hello Beautiful, Podcast- This American Life
18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?
Farm to table- I love local, seasonal, and fresh. Plus, anything with cheese!
19--What do you do when you have free time?
Spend time with family and friends, wrangle dogs, and try to play golf.
20--What can readers expect from you next?
I’ve got another summer beach book in the works, called The Club. It’s about a mixed generation family heading an exclusive country club whose reputation has tanked, unwelcome new neighbors, and the false assumptions we make about people we deem different. Ultimately, it explores the human need to belong and how we find family. Since pre-Covid, this is the most I have enjoyed writing in years, and I can’t wait to share this one in summer 2024.
At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth.
Her daughter-in-law Cora has her own complicated feelings surrounding Tish’s return as well as doubts about her place within the Darling family. After all, Cora came into the family carrying a secret that her husband promised to keep for her forever. Tish’s sudden return to Riptide may force everything they’ve worked so hard to protect out into the light.
Meanwhile, Cora’s eldest daughter, Andi isn’t exactly looking forward to her little sister’s wedding so soon after her own divorce. To make matters worse, her ex has arrived on the Cape with his insufferable new girlfriend. Andi has no idea how she’ll be able to survive this family reunion…until she bumps into an old friend from the past. A friend who may just offer her a second chance.
As the three distinct generations of Darling women arrive at Riptide, they have no idea that this summer will forever change them. One old secret, kept with the best of intentions, threatens to not only divide the family, but shatter each member’s sense of who they really are. Can the ties that bind survive, when the history you’ve always been told turns out to be untrue?
Women's Fiction [Atria/Emily Bestler Books, On Sale: May 2, 2023, Trade Paperback, ISBN: 9781982195533 / ]
Hannah McKinnon is the author of The Lake Season, Mystic Summer, The Summer House, Sailing Lessons, and The View from Here. She graduated from Connecticut College and the University of South Australia. She lives in Connecticut, with her family, a flock of chickens, and two rescue dogs.
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