News Flash: Nancy is the lucky winner of Elizabeth’s book. Nancy, please check your email, and congratulations!
Edith/Maddie in a chilly week north of Boston.
I’m so happy to welcome debut author Elizabeth de Veer to the blog. The Ocean in Winter is an atmospheric and beautifully told tale of three adult sisters. I absolutely loved reading it after it came out last summer, and I know you will, too. She’s giving away a copy to one lucky commenter!
Here’s the blurb:
The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when the oldest sister, Alex, eleven then, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley, the youngest, has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. But Riley has many dark secrets, and she’s cut off communications with her family. Now, Alex and Colleen are desperate to find her, but what if they can’t get to her in time? “Fiercely intelligent and always engaging, de Veer does what the best novelists do: she takes the full measure of her difficult subject, and transforms it through some alchemy into hard-won wisdom and grace.” –Elisabeth Elo, author of Finding Katarina M. and North of Boston
Let’s get our interview started.
What genres do you write in?
I mostly write literary fiction/women’s fiction, although now I’m trying my hand at a murder mystery.
What drew you to the genre you write?
It’s just how my first books came out, but I enjoy exploring and expounding upon the characters’ emotional lives. The Ocean in Winter includes a mystery and a ghost story. I thought including ghosts would be a good way to explore the theme of what it means to be haunted.
What sets your book apart from what is out there?
The Ocean in Winter is the story of three sisters whose mother committed suicide when they were children. The story picks up when they are adults and all three sisters are at a crossroads. I think my writing style holds the reader in the center of the character’s emotional experience, which is sometimes traumatic, but I don’t tip into melodrama. This lets the reader experience the feelings but stay inside the story.
Do you write a series or standalones? Why?
I write standalones. I guess that’s just what the Muse tells me to do. I feel like it might be more sensible to write a series, but I’m one and done, baby.
As a series writer, I always find that so interesting! What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m writing a standalone murder mystery set in a town very similar to Georgetown, Massachusetts, where I live. The story is about a teenager, Tyler Sturges, who went missing fifteen years ago. The case wakes up again when one of the friends finds his ID in an abandoned house. Why would the owner of the house, Old Man Egmont, have murdered Tyler? And if he did, what happened to the body? (I actually happen to know those answers but you, dear readers, will have to wait to find out more!)
I can’t wait. What are you reading right now?
I spoke to my first book club last week (squee!! So fun!) and one of the readers had just read Stephen King’s book On Writing. I read it a long time ago, but she reminded me what a great book it is. Now I’m listening to the audiobook. The man really is a genius storyteller. My favorite story so far is about flatulent babysitter Eulah Beulah and how she fed little Stevie way too many eggs. It’s just the smallest anecdote, but it is absolutely wonderful. It’s also such a treat to get writing advice and insight from the master.
I should reread that, too. It’s on my shelf of books about writing. Do you have a favorite quote or life motto?
From Finding Nemo: “When life gets you down, you know what you got to do? Just keep swimming.” I think about that lot when things get discouraging. Keep your head down, focus on what works, and keep swimming.
I love that quote! What’s your favorite writing space?
Ten years ago, before my daughter was born, I had a sweet little home office. After she came along, I came to love getting out of the house and writing in coffee shops. Nowadays, my husband works full time (and overtime) in that home office, and I have taken over the desk in the dining room where my daughter did school over Zoom last year. But I’m miss coffee shops!! I can’t wait to get back to them.
Favorite deadline snack?
Whatever’s easy to prep, light and tasty, microwaveable, vegetarian, but nothing too fattening. Oh, and coffee.
What do you see when you look up from writing?
There’s a big window behind my desk in the corner of the dining room and it looks out into our front yard. There’s a lovely little Japanese elm out there whose leaves turn scarlet-crimson in the fall. The birds just love flitting about that tree and in the summer, we had two pairs of hummingbirds who frequently spent time in that tree. Looking up and seeing them was just a treat.
Thank you so much for inviting me to “talk” with you!
Edith: It’s been a delightful chat. I was so happy to help you celebrate being a Debutante at Crime Bake last weekend!
Readers: What’s your favorite paranormal mystery or ghost story? What makes you pick up a book in a genre you don’t usually read? Elizabeth will send one of you a paper copy of The Ocean in Winter.
Elizabeth de Veer has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has been admitted to writing residencies at the Jentel Artist Residency, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and is a member of several writing groups, including the Newburyport Writers’ Group and Sisters in Crime New England. She lives in a Georgetown, Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.