Do you anthropomorphize trees? I do. Can’t help it. Madrones. Redwoods. Maples. Birch. I’m so in love with trees that I’ve named the maples outside my home after my novels. Not sure what will happen when I’ve written the next novel and I’m out of trees. Traveling is great for a writer because it alters your perceptions and perspective. Home is good too, because it grounds those travel experiences. I like to travel and write, then come home and edit. I’ve kept track of where I’ve written every novel. Wild Blue Yonder began on my deck in Lexington and ended here, too, but a lot of it was written at Squam Lake, New Hampshire. A major draft of Madrone was written in Santa Cruz. Much of Bridge Across the Ocean was set, and written, on the island of Magong, off the coast of the island of Taiwan. The entire first draft of Anarchy was written in Port Launay, France (land of revolution and anarchy). My latest novel, The Ghostwriter’s Version, got its first draft in Amsterdam.
The year is 1969. After an interminable four years under the boot of the US military, twenty-four-year-old Nathaniel Hawthorne Flowers is ready for his real life to begin. His plans are straightforward: spend as much time as he can with his girlfriend, Jane, finish college, and become a writer.
But when Nate is denied admission to UC Santa Cruz, he decides that a bachelor’s degree isn’t necessary for the path he’s laid out for himself. He can learn about literature on his own, and he’ll have more time to write if he isn’t in school. His choice doesn’t sit well with everybody. Jane’s father asks Nate how he’ll support Jane without a degree. Jane’s mentor offers to pull some strings at SC if Nate agrees to become his student. And when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself, even Nate is tempted by the allure of conventionally defined success.
Picking up where Wild Blue Yonder left off, Madrone inspires us to consider how far we’ll go to remain true to ourselves.