I think we often take the familiar for granted. Whether it be the people in our lives, the jobs we do, or the places we live, sometimes appreciation for what’s right under our noses gets lost in the shuffle of our lives.
When I wrote the first draft of the book that would be Then Came You, I’d set the story, and my town in the Pacific Northwest. I did a ton of research, I’d visited, and I’d learned all about different parts of the area. But no matter what I did, the story didn’t come to life. So, on the advice of a friend, I moved the story east, to my Long Island home.
That was eye opening. I knew to do the town of Compass Cove justice, I had to imbue the setting with all the things that make Long Island special. That forced me to re-learn everything that makes this place unique and beautiful.
If you looked on a map, you could place Compass Cove about 30 miles east of Midtown Manhattan on the hilly, and very green, North Shore. Long Island Sound borders the northern coast and on a clear day you can see all the way to Connecticut. The beaches are calm, and rocky, and I spent many a summer day with my friends on beautiful West Neck Beach skimming rocks, building sand castles or taking swimming lessons. If you head twenty minutes south, you’re standing on a stretch of soft white sand facing the Atlantic Ocean. An hour or so east, and you are in an area rich with farms and vineyards. Hop on a train, and you can head to NYC for a Broadway show or to visit one of the many beautiful museums. In truth, we have a lot going for us, even though it’s expensive to live here. But it wasn’t these attractions that made my fictional small town special. As usual, the little things gave Compass Cove its character.
Then Came You set the stage. You Send Me allowed me to take the foundation I’d laid in the first book and build on it.
A small café in Cold Spring Harbor inspired the bakery side of Rinaldi’s Café in You Send Me. It’s run by my friend Denise, who chats with everyone who comes into her shop and makes them feel like one of the family. The sweet shop in Northport gave me a visual for another scene. It’s been owned by the same family since 1929. They make their own ice cream, sometimes up to 80 gallons a week in the summer. The waterfront park in Oyster Bay is just like I describe in Then Came You. And the compass rose that is inlaid in the intersection of the town? It exists in a small coastal hamlet named Bayville.
If the town seems real to you it’s because many parts of it are real to me. The people and places you’re meeting in Compass Cove are the people and places of my life. I’m lucky to have been so inspired. And I love that my fictional small town brought me new appreciation for the important things I’d long overlooked.
Is there something about your hometown that sometimes gets taken for granted? Tell me what you love about the place you live.
Jeannie Moon has always been a romantic. When she’s not spinning tales of her own, Jeannie works as a school librarian, thankful she has a job that allows her to immerse herself in books and call it work. Married to her high school sweetheart, Jeannie has three kids, three lovable dogs and a mischievous cat and lives in her hometown on Long Island, NY. If she’s more than ten miles away from salt water for any longer than a week, she gets twitchy.