Quincy author Wendy Francis talks about her new novel, “Summertime Guests” (Graydon House; April 6, 2021)—the perfect beach read.
How does “Summertime Guests” compare with your previous books?
Summertime Guests falls firmly into the summer escape category. The novel takes place over one long weekend in June, at a swank hotel in Boston. Cocktails are flowing poolside, and there’s plenty of bad behavior at the hotel—and beyond—to keep everyone guessing about the woman who meets her untimely death at the book’s start. Unlike my previous novels, this one is also a bit of a mystery.
Who are the main characters of the story?
The narrative follows four different people in various stages of love. There’s Riley, who’s newly engaged and is at the hotel to plan her wedding with Tom. There’s Jean-Paul, the hotel’s general manager, who must manage the latest crisis at work while his wife tends to their new baby at home. Jason’s girlfriend, Gwen, has treated him to a birthday getaway at the hotel, but their relationship threatens to implode, if he’s not careful. And then there’s Claire, a recent widow, who is treating herself to a mini-vacation at the Seafarer and hopes to run into an old flame of hers in Boston.
Did the pandemic influence your writing?
I wrote the bones of the book starting in the fall of 2019 and finished in spring 2020. There were many revisions and rewrites over the course of the summer and fall of last year while my 12-year-old son was home-schooling. As anyone who worked at home with kids (and dogs) during the past year knows, your work gets done during those “in-between” moments. So, writing during the pandemic was more of a disjointed process than it usually is, without long stretches of time to myself. On the other hand, writing about the Seafarer Hotel and its guests was a terrific escape from the isolating walls of my home during Covid.
What do you love most about writing?
I’ve always loved to read and write. There’s something irresistible about being transported to other worlds and other people’s lives in the pages of a book. I suppose the thing I love most about writing is being able to imagine an entire world that’s filled with characters I don’t yet know. My characters always surprise me with the things they say and do.