Beatriz Williams will launch her new book, “Along the Infinite Sea,” at the Westerly Library in Rhode Island next Tuesday, November 3rd, at 6:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; books will be available for purchase from Mystic’s Bank Square Books. A reception will follow, with beer sponsored by Grey Sail Brewing of RI. More information can be found here. Location: 44 Broad St.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Beatriz Williams.
Ms. Williams is the New York Times bestselling author of “Along the Infinite Sea,” out from G.P. Putnam’s Sons next Tuesday. Her previous titles include “Tiny Little Thing,” “The Secret Life of Violent Grant,” “A Hundred Summers,” and “Overseas.” Ms. Williams is a graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia She makes her home in Connecticut with her husband and children.
Praise for “Along the Infinite Sea”:
“With the killer charm of a Rodgers and Hammerstein score and a touch of du Maurier intrigue, Williams’ latest sexy and enthralling period drama (on the high heels of Tiny Little Thing) draws readers into the parallel, luxe worlds of two sparky women in the post-Camelot 1960s.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“With spunky characters full of grace and grit … The swift pacing and emotional twists and turns of the plot will leave readers guessing up to the final pages. Recommended for readers who enjoyed the atmosphere and characters of Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins.”—Library Journal
From the publisher:
Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler’s problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she’s finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.
But the car’s new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.
Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William’s final book about the Schuyler sisters.
Now, Beatriz Williams reveals a few pages from the book of her life …
Hartford Books Examiner: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
Beatriz Williams: Oh, I was the worst possible nerd! Someone once called me the Walking Encyclopedia, and not in a good way. I read through Jane Austen when everyone else was reading Sweet Valley High. I just read and read and had all these bizarre passions for Italian opera and Shakespeare and horse racing, just not what anyone else was into at all, and I flew that geek flag high. I used to read out the Aqueduct results during show and tell. I’d write stories starring Placido Domingo, who was my girlhood crush. (Cue the eye rolls from classmates.) So I absolutely LOVE that all these things that made me such a weird child are what give my writing so much texture as an adult. I can rattle on in a book talk about all the thousand threads woven into my latest novel, go off on historical tangents, and people are actually enthralled! I still can’t get over that. It’s such a wonderful feeling.
HBE: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
BW: My first chapter books were the Little House novels, and I read them to shreds. I loved the Anne of Green Gables series and the Oz books—all twenty of them!—and the Black Stallion. Swallows and Amazons. As I got older my British father poured all this English literature into my lap, Austen and Dickens and Trollope. He tried to get me to read Treasure Island and I just wasn’t interested. I didn’t get pirates until I discovered naughty romance novels as a teenager.
HBE: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
BW: I’m reading a wonderful advance copy of the upcoming novel “A Fine Imitation,” by Amber Brock, which takes place in the teens and twenties in New York society. I’m only a few chapters in but I’m thoroughly hooked! Clever and glamorous.
HBE: What one book do you always recommend when asked?
BW: I don’t think nearly enough people have read Patrick O’Brian. It’s really some of the best historical fiction ever written, erudite and page-turning at the same time, exciting and profound. It’s like a master class in how to write brilliant, engaging, historically-rich, character-driven books that transcend genre—in this case, the somewhat specialized passion of naval fiction. Trust me, you don’t have to be a sailor to read these books, and yet an expert couldn’t fault the details. My husband once took a picture of me in the delivery room, riding out contractions with a copy of “The Nutmeg of Consolation.”
HBE: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
BW: That’s such a tough question—they’re all my babies! But I think “A Hundred Summers” is a good start — the entry drug, if you will! It introduces my fictional Schuyler family, which figures in all my novels except the first, and it was really my breakout book.
HBE: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
BW: I started reading the Captain Underpants series with my younger son a few years ago, and I thought they would just be the worst books ever. I felt I was absolutely capitulating as a parent. And you know what? They’re brilliant. Really brilliant. As in the best kids’ books, the humor works on two levels, and the imaginative storytelling is top notch. My author hat is off to Dav Pilkey. I even snuck in a “Remember that” in an upcoming book as a wink and a tribute!
HBE: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
BW: Sadly, Patrick O’Brian passed away about fifteen years ago, but if I could have met him I think I would have been reduced to a puddle of babbling goo. And that’s not an easy thing to do to me! As I said, my father’s British, so we were all about poise growing up.
HBE: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
BW: I still don’t feel like I’ve made it! I think I’m one of those people who never does. I’m like a hiker. Every time I climb one peak, I realize how many more peaks are left on the trail. So I just try to enjoy the climb and the view as I go along, and the wonderful company I meet along the way.
HBE: What is your greatest literary ambition?
BW: Honestly, I’m grateful to be doing this for a living. I just want to tell stories that engage readers, that bring some form of joy or illumination to readers’ lives. I love getting emails and Facebook posts from people who tell me that my books have carried them through a difficult time, or that they’d given up on fiction until they read “The Secret Life of Violet Grant,” and it’s reawakened the joy of reading for them. That’s why I write. That’s the only ambition any writer should have.
HBE: Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
BW: … a fabulous book discovery resource for readers and writers!
With thanks to Beatriz Williams for her generosity of time and thought and to Katie McKee, Senior Publicity Manager for G.P. Putnam’s Sons, and Elissa Englund, Event Coordinator for Bank Square Books, for helping to facilitate this interview.
Don’t forget: Beatriz Williams will appear at the Westerly Library in Rhode Island next Tuesday, November 3rd, at 6:00 p.m.