Wouldn’t it be wonderful to escape to a remote island sometimes? Dear reader, you can live that dream vicariously through the heroine in SUNRISE BY THE SEA who gets the chance to do just that! And even though we can’t join her, today we get the chance to talk to the author! Welcome Jenny Colgan!
We’re so excited to have you here, but maybe we’re a bit more excited for your newest release to take us back to the island of Mount Polbearne and the Little Beach Street Bakery! True to life you show the previous couple, Polly and Huckle, struggling with their jobs as their young family grows. Speaking of their young family, who play an important role in Marisa’s island experience, did you have more fun writing the twin’s escapades or Neil the puffin?
I loved writing the twins. I really like writing for young children- the twins are 5, Agot in the Mure series is now about 6. I love their directness, and the tangents their little brains take. I don’t like wisecracking super clever children in books, I like real children, in all their unreasonable repetitive glory. Also my friends have boy/ girl twins and their dynamic was so fascinating when they were smaller.
We’re not sure we could choose—puffin or twins—they’re all too much fun! But back to that important role part. When Marisa arrives on the island and goes to pick up her cottage key fro the bakery, Polly recognizes she’s having a panic attack when the shop suddenly becomes filled with people—and Neil. You wrote the panic attack, and the rest of Marisa’s mental health struggles, very well. How did you tap into that emotion to write that scene?
Thank you that is very kind of you to say that. I am lucky enough not to suffer from panic attacks but I have friends who do and I read a lot about it. I also feel during lockdown there was anxiety about going out- going to the supermarket or being places other people were- and experiencing that allowed me to tap into what it must be like to feel anxiety about what should be safe places in the normal run of things. I have huge respect for the courage it takes people with anxiety disorders just to go about their normal lives.
Aside from the mental health aspect, this book is also about finding love. Alexei is from Russia and is working as a piano teacher on the little island. His playing frustrates Marisa, much to his astonishment, but he’s such a teddy bear! What was your favorite aspect of Alexei to write?
Oh I just think Alexei’s funny. I like that his english isn’t perfect but he doesn’t care, and I like that he’s too big for his environment, he’s always knocking things over or being slightly surprised at how big he is. He’s one of these exuberant, life-affirming people, even when he’s sad, I hope, which is why Marisa is so drawn to him.
Coming off the pandemic, which is also where your characters are at, means dealing with a lot of mental health issues for many people. What we love best about this book is how you show Marisa, and also Alexei, that there’s hope. For Marisa she is able to overcome her depression and handles her anxiety. And for Alexei he is able to realize that love can be found even after it’s lost. What was the most important message you want readers to take away from SUNRISE BY THE SEA?
Just what the book says really; that the sun will rise again, and there will be sunshine and good food and music! And books of course.
This book has so much to love and so many warm fuzzies to give! Thank you so much, Jenny, for stopping by to answer a few questions about it. A huge congrats to SUNRISE BY THE SEA’s release! Cheers!
Thanks again Lexi!!! Love, Jenny. xxxx