My road to publication was fairly direct. I thought about writing a novel and then, without too much ado, I wrote one. Then I wrote another. And another. When I felt my first manuscript was ready to go out into the world, I started querying. Shortly thereafter, I acquired a fabulous agent (Nalini Akolekar at Spencerhill Associates). At her suggestion, I did some revisions on my first manuscript, and she shipped it out for me. Within a year, I had an offer for publication for the first two books in my Star Harbor series. I was thrilled that the offer was from Loveswept! Loveswept – the line that had published such legends as Debra Dixon, Tami Hoag, and Jennifer Crusie. That Loveswept.
Believe me, I know how unusual this is, and how fortunate I am that this all happened so quickly. Of course I’m leaving out the hard work involved in researching, writing and editing my book, my incredible luck with timing, and the shock and awe I experienced when first talking with the inestimable Sue Grimshaw, but truth be told, it’s a fairly uneventful story.
What I find more interesting about my journey is why I wrote a novel to begin with. By any account, I shouldn’t have been thinking about it at all, much less to the point of obsession. I had a great career as a patent attorney, a fabulous husband and my first child on the way. Why, when I had my whole life aligned perfectly could I not stop thinking about it?
The answer came to me the other day as I was taking my beautiful one-year old daughter for a walk near our Northern California home. Though it was early September, the day was clear, hot and cloudless with little breeze. Tall redwoods flanked the path with their mahogany trunks and dark green needles. Nearby, a ruby-throated hummingbird sucked nectar from a bright-purple allium. Given our fairly constant (good) weather, it could have been any season. In Connecticut – where I grew up – I knew that by now, the days would be getting shorter, geese would be flying south for the winter, and cinnamon-and-sugar donuts would be required eating.
And then it hit me: I missed autumn in New England terribly, and my longing colored my life.
Days growing crisp and cold. Leaves slowly morphing from green to red, gold and brown. Raking huge leaf piles, scattering them with a well-placed jump, then raking them again. Aromas of wood-burning fires and freshly-baked pumpkin pie filling the air. Smoky, chill evenings. Curling up inside with a hot mug of cocoa and a good book. Apple picking in old orchards. Hayrides. School starting. A breathless anticipation of things to come.
This deep longing to experience the season is part of why I wrote DEEP AUTUMN HEAT, the first novel in my Star Harbor series set on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Not only is it the story of two stubborn chefs who simply must fall in love, despite all obstacles, it is also my love letter to autumn. I needed to write this book to showcase my own beautiful little part of the world and to share with readers how much my small, quiet, New England town shaped who I am. The fact that Sue Grimshaw and the rest of the fabulous team at Random House fell in love with Star Harbor as much as I did is just icing on the cake.
What is your favorite season? Why do you love it so much and how has it inspired you?
Elisabeth Barrett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and three beautiful children. When she is not writing, Elisabeth loves baking, choral singing and hiking. Elisabeth will make her Loveswept debut with DEEP AUTUMN HEAT in July 2012.