B&N Reads, Guest Post, Romance, Summer Reading

The Kind of Career Writers Dream About: A Guest Post by Elin Hilderbrand

Hailed as queen of the beach read, Elin Hilderbrand’s novels have joined us on the sand and by the pool for years. Read on for Elin’s exclusive B&N Reads essay where she takes readers on a journey throughout her career, from her very first novel to Swan Song, the last in her beloved Nantucket series.

Swan Song

Hardcover $21.00 $30.00

Swan Song

Swan Song

By Elin Hilderbrand

In Stock Online

Hardcover $21.00 $30.00

Nothing says summer like an Elin Hilderbrand Nantucket novel. Old friends, new strangers and a possible murder are the beginning of the end… of Hilderbrand’s bestselling series.

Nothing says summer like an Elin Hilderbrand Nantucket novel. Old friends, new strangers and a possible murder are the beginning of the end… of Hilderbrand’s bestselling series.

On June 11th, my final Nantucket-based summer novel, Swan Song, will be released. Yes, I said “final.” I’m retiring – at least from the part of my career where I put out one beach read each summer as I have done since the year 2000. 

I’ve had the kind of career writers dream about. However, I was hardly an overnight success. Looking back, I can choose these five novels as markers in my career, and my life.

The Beach Club: My first baby

I began this novel while I was a graduate student at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop. The Iowa writing program is among the most prestigious in the country and I was lucky to be admitted – however, once I arrived, I was completely miserable. Moving to Iowa City from Nantucket, I was a fish out of water, and the program was fiercely competitive. To make myself feel better, I start writing about Nantucket. In this way, The Beach Club was born. In my very last workshop at Iowa, my professor invited his agent to speak.  The agent asked which one of us was from Nantucket and when I raised my hand, he asked me to stay after class. It turned out that agent had spent summers growing up on Nantucket. We forged a quick bond and, eight months later, I sent him The Beach Club. We were both thinking big, but my first novel garnered an advance of only five thousand dollars. Didn’t matter – I would be published! The book was chosen as People magazine’s Beach Book of the Week, and the book outperformed all expectations.

Barefoot: My breakout book.

Despite the modest success of The Beach Club, my first five novels were “underpublished,” and didn’t do well. In the fall of 2006, I switched publishers to Little, Brown and my life changed. THIS is when the beachy covers emerged, as well as my signature font. Barefoot just barely grazed the best seller list in hardcover but in paperback, it spent twenty-six weeks on the list, including three weeks at number two. Thrilling! I was off and running (barefoot…)

The Matchmaker: Bonding with my readers.

In the spring of 2014, I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer only two weeks before the publication of The Matchmaker and, due to the nature of my treatment, I had to cancel most of my tour dates. Because of this, I decided to go public with my diagnosis, which had some eerie parallels with events in the book. I wrote an article about life imitating art for the Huffington Post, which caught the attention of the producers of CBS Mornings. I appeared on the national show the day before my scheduled double mastectomy. Because my demographic of readers is the same as that of breast cancer, I experienced an outpouring of love and support beyond my wildest dreams.

Winter in Paradise: My escape.

In 2012, I took myself on a “writing retreat” to St. John in the US Virgin Islands. I fell in love with the tropical island and would return every year for five to eight weeks each winter. When I pitched the idea of a trilogy set in the islands, my publisher was initially cautious. My signature was Nantucket. Would a series set elsewhere succeed? Yes! The Paradise trilogy, featuring the Steele family, are among my most popular titles.

The Perfect Couple: My debut on the (little) screen.

Hollywood can be a cruel mistress. I have been writing novels for twenty-four years and only now, in 2024, will I see one of my titles come to the screen. The Perfect Couple will air as a six-part limited series on Netflix starring Nicole Kidman, Liev Schreiber, Eve Hewson, Dakota Fanning and Meghann Fahy. This will mark the first time that Nantucket has been accurately portrayed on TV – and I am so here for it! I have a number of other projects in the works, and so I hope that, although the Nantucket novels are ending with Swan Song, that readers will have Elin books to enjoy in other ways.

The writer Elin Hilderbrand (USA), Nantucket, Massachusetts, October 19, 2021. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan