SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE:
Every writer feels a special kinship with their first novel. There is nothing like walking into a bookstore and seeing your book on the shelf. This was my first book, and when ever someone asks me which book of mine to read, I always tell them SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE because if they like that one, they'll like all of them. This is the book where I found my own voice after years of false starts. I still get goosebumps when I see my name on a book jacket. And this one started it all for me.
In 1983, I was living in Greenwich Village in New York City, working as a flight attendant for TWA, going to graduate school at NYU, and writing a series of short stories about three women who went to college together in the 1960s. A year earlier, my older brother (and only sibling), Skip, had died in a freak accident and I was struggling with how to cope with that loss. Since I was a child, I wrote as a way to entertain myself and to work our problems I was having. Until Skip died, my writing consisted of some very bad poetry and some very imitative short stories. When I moved to NYC, I began to go to readings at bookstores, and these opened up the world of contemporary literature to me. This combination of grief and a new literary world led me to write these interconnected stories.
At the Breadloaf Writers Conference in Vermont, the writer Nicholas Delbanco convinced me that I was actually-gulp!-writing a novel. I went home from there and began to make sense of my stories and to connect them. That fall, while I was working a trip to Paris, an agent called to tell me that Bantam wanted to publish my book. SOMEWHERE OFF THE COAST OF MAINE came out in the summer of 1987.