Novel Place: Carla Neggers’ Heron’s Cove

NovelPlaces logoFans of Carla Neggers‘ Sharpe & Donovan series can walk the some of the same New England streets that FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan do. The southern Maine town of Heron’s Cove that appears throughout the series is fictional. However, Carla said she had Kennebunkport, Maine, in mind when she created Heron’s Cove–specifically time she spent walking along Ocean Avenue. The Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm in nearby Wells, Maine, was also an inspiration. As the previous links show, both are spots you can visit, too … even if you aren’t part of a popular FBI crime-fighting duo 🙂

Emma Sharpe, a former nun turned art crimes expert, and Colin Donovan, a deep-cover agent, have so far been featured in four of Carla’s books: Saint’s Gate, Heron’s Cove, Declan’s Cross and Harbor Island. Keeper’s Reach, the fifth book in the series, will be released Aug. 25. Carla also wrote Rock Point, a prequel e-novella.

An ocean view from Ocean Avenue.
An ocean view from Ocean Avenue.
Jamesway dairy barn at Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm.
Jamesway dairy barn at Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm.

“New England is a great place to set books,” said Carla when we she appeared on the very first Literary New England Radio Show in December 2011 to talk about Saint’s Gate. “It’s got everything–mountains, oceans, small towns, big cities. Lots of different people and things are going on. It’s also close to major cities like Washington, D.C., so it’s easy for Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan to travel from their FBI office in Boston to Washington. New England allows so many opportunities to create richness in stories. I love to hear from readers who say my books feel like a homecoming because of the strong sense of place. Others, who’ve never been to New England, have said my books make them want to come there.”

We also talked to Carla in February 2014 about her novel Cider Brook.

Carla herself is steeped in New England. The multi-times New York Times bestseller was born and raised in rural Massachusetts and now lives in Vermont.

Making The Shining: A short film made by Stanley Kubrick’s daughter

The original cover of The Shining. Published in 1977, it was King's third published novel and first hardcover bestseller. The setting and characters were based on personal experiences, including King's visit to The Stanley Hotel in Colorado and his recovery from alcoholism.
The original cover of The Shining. Published in 1977, it was King’s third published novel and first hardcover bestseller. The setting and characters were based on personal experiences, including King’s visit to The Stanley Hotel in Colorado and his recovery from alcoholism.

What’s the scariest book you ever read? Mine is Maine resident Stephen King’s The Shining, which I read for the first time just a couple of years ago. Even at 40-something years old, I had to put it down several times, especially when I was reading in bed, at night, when everyone else in the house was asleep, and an unexplainable creek or groan occurred.

More than once, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end. I was that creeped-out and uncomfortable. But watching Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining? Not the same experience at all. Of course, the movie is scary and horrifying. But it’s also enjoyably magnificent, thanks in large part to Kubrick’s vision and the terrific acting, especially by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.

Poking around Open Culture the other day, I found a neat 30-minute documentary called Making The Shining, which was shot by Kubrick’s then-17-year-old daughter Vivian and aired on the BBC.

One of the many highlights of the film: Nicholson brushing his teeth after a smelly lunch–talking about how he wants to be considerate to his fellow actors–and then immediately lighting up a cigarette. He struts across the set and is clearly the production’s star, leaving Duvall to feel very left out. When she collapses from the stress of filming and her personal life, it’s sad but not that much of a surprise. She talks very candidly about it.

Vivian with The Shining cast and crew on set.
Vivian with The Shining cast and crew on set.

Scissors, please. These Spinster-inspired paper dolls are a must!

Spinster Paper DollsBy Cindy Wolfe Boynton
What’s very possibly one of the best things, in my whole life, that I’ve ever stumbled across? These super-awesome literary spinster paper dolls, which were created to go along with the release of journalist Kate Bolick‘s memoir Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own.

Adding to my excitement is that like Bolick herself (who grew up in Newburyport, Mass.), four of the five literary goddesses turned paper play-things have ties to New England. In Spinster, Bolick weaves their lives and choices into her own, showing us the unconventional ideas and lifestyles of:

  • Journalist Neith Boyce, who lived in Massachusetts and is buried in New Hampshire
  • Social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of the must-read “The Yellow Wallpaper,” who was born in Hartford, Conn.
  • Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, who was born in Rockland, Maine
  • Novelist Edith Wharton, who lived in Massachusetts

Irish writer and essayist Maeve Brennan is also featured.

Download printable versions of the paper dolls here, which are part of a “Spinster Kit” that also includes recipes for each of these writers’ favorite cocktails, a list of their works you should read, and a Spinster discussion guide.

SpinsterIn Spinster, which grew out a 2011 cover story Bolick wrote for the Atlantic, Bolick explores not just modern notions of romance, family, career and success, but why she, and more than 100 million other American women, remains unmarried. She uses her personal experiences as a starting point to delve into the history of the idea of spinsterhood, examine her own intellectual and sexual coming of age, and discover why so many fear the life she has come to relish.

Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Edith Wharton each helped shape Bolick, influencing both her personal and career choices and, ultimately, this book.

Kate Bolick will be one of my guests on the May 11, 2015 Literary New England Radio Show. We’ll also be giving away copies of Spinster, so save the date!

You may also want to mark Friday, May 15, on your calendar. From 5-7 pm, Bolick will be at Edith Wharton’s home The Mount in Lenox, Mass, to give a free reading and signing. Entitled “Kate Bolick’s Awakening at The Mount: A Reading and Reception to Celebrate Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own,” the event will feature hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and, says The Mount website, “conversation about what it means to live independently.” Bolick will also read from Spinster and then sign copies.

If you go, please send photos! I’m so incredibly bummed not to be able to attend.