Marlene Hauser Krista Bourne has always been surrounded by the strength, love and wealth of her family and their homes in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard. She has never had to think for herself. Living with boyfriend Michael and her elderly grandfather, she can also summon up the comforting ghosts of her beloved father and grandmother. In vivid dreams she flies with her pilot father, and when awake remembers idyllic childhood holidays spent with her bohemian grandmother.
When Krista impulsively walks out on her career as a professional dancer, it is the beginning of a new chapter in her life. She feels unsettled and excited by the sense of imminent change around her.
This feeling turns to panic, then fear when she realises that she is pregnant and is uncertain whether or not she wants to keep the baby, bringing her and Michael to a crossroads in their relationship. Adamant that she alone must deal with the situation, Krista rejects all offers of support from him, isolating her at a time when she most needs help.
Krista’s journey and emotional upheaval take her back to her summer home on Martha’s Vineyard, where she is surprised to find out that she does not know her family history quite as well as she imagined.
What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Hands down, it is the fun I have participating in the story as it unfolds—never what I original expected. I love meeting the characters, one by one, who originate as an idea and go on to become 3D. I enjoy working with editors that spin a character or a plot line in an entirely different direction, forcing me to reweave the tale. I love the surprise, the adventure. Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Very tough question, but in the final analysis, in Off-Island—I would have to say Krista because she comes of age through the unexpectedly difficult and emotionally painful experience of abortion. I do equally enjoy her grandmother Ilsa. What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Tea, tea & more tea. English breakfast with lemon slices, jasmine green with lemon slices, hojika, kukicha, rooibos, earl grey, white… The list is endless. Gunpowder. Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write first thing in the morning, before anything else, in PJs, crossed-legged on my bed with my laptop propped up on a pedestal of pillows with both my Jack Russell (Leche) and Bengal (Presto) curled up beside me. How do you research your books?
Research comes from first hand experiences, the life experience of close friends and acquaintances, reading extensively on a subject that intrigues me, watching documentaries and of course the ever ready Google. I also ask more knowledgeable readers than myself to review my work and make suggestions. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I usually have an idea, rough outline—loose beginning, middle & end—Act I, II & III, and then I get going and the story does its own thing. Afterwards, with an editor stirring the pot, mystery abounds and all outlines go out the window. So a bit of both, plotter and pantser. If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Does New Zealand count? Just kidding. Beautiful country. I tend to live in the fictional world that I am creating at any one moment, the book I am working on at the time. I like to revisit places where I’ve actually lived and loved. If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
I would befriend some of Shakespeare’s romantic/tragic women, particularly Juliet and Ophelia. I would say “No. Stop, don’t do it.” And then they would go on to triumph and live amazing lives.