Synopsis (from Amazon):
The bridge at Sagamore was closed when we got there that summer of 1956. We had to cross the canal at Buzzards Bay over the only other roadway that tethered Cape Cod to the mainland.
Thus twelve-year-old Lily Grainger, while safe from ‘communists and the Pope,’ finds her family suddenly adrift. That was the summer the Andrea Doria sank, pilot whales stranded, and Lily’s father built a house he couldn't afford. Target practice on a nearby decommissioned Liberty Ship echoed not only the rancor in her parents' marriage, a rancor stoked by Lily’s competitive uncle, but also Lily’s troubles with her sister, her cousins, and especially with her mother. In her increasingly desperate efforts to salvage her parents' marriage, Lily discovers betrayals beyond her understanding as well as the small ways in which people try to rescue each other. She draws on her music lessons and her love of Cape Cod—from Sagamore and Monomoy to Nauset Spit and the Wellfleet Dunes, seeking safe passage from the limited world of her salt marsh to the larger, open ocean.
Marcia Peck Interview: WATER MUSIC: A Cape Cod Story
Which was the hardest character to write? The easiest?
Hardest character to write was Lily’s mother. To understand her, I had to place myself in the shoes of a talented, smart, isolated mother of two daughters in the 1950’s who longed to find meaning in her role.
Easiest was Uncle George, the blow-hard.
In your book you make a reference to the sinking of the Andrea Doria....how did you come up with this idea? What made you write a book about...?
The sinking of that brand new, sleek ocean liner has always fascinated me. And when I learned that the Ile de France turned around, 40 miles out to sea to come to the princess ship’s aid and saved countless lives, I saw a parallel between the young ocean liner (Lily) and the older, reliable Ile de France (the steady mother Lily longed to have.)
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
My stories grow from my own fictionalized experience, those people or situations that nag at me. The “what-ifs”.
There are many books out there about complicated family dynamics...What makes yours different?
The difficulties Lily’s family grapple with are not only grounded in their own history, but are very much echoed in the landscape they inhabit. They are nourished by the bounty of the sea and salt air, but also threatened by storms and a changeable, often indifferent landscape.
What advice would you give budding writers?
Read! And write! It sounds foolishly obvious. But when we read what we love, we ingest those elements that make the writing work. And when we get something down on the page, it starts to tell us what comes next.
Your book is set in Cape Cod. Have you ever been there?
My family spent our summers on Cape Cod all through my childhood and adolescence, and I’ve felt spiritually bonded to that remarkable bit of land and sea all my life.
Do you have another profession besides writing?
I’m a cellist with a symphony orchestra. For me, that has been a perfect combination. In WATER MUSIC I kept thinking about the little motifs that recur in Wagner or Rachmaninoff, those little echoes that invisibly tie a work together.
Photo by Joel Larson
Marcia Peck’s writing has received a variety of awards, including New Millenium Writings (First prize for “Memento Mori”) and Lake Superior Writers’ Conference (First Prize for “Pride and Humility”). Her articles have appeared in Musical America, Strad Magazine, Strings Magazine, Senza Sordino, and the op-ed pages of the Minneapolis StarTribune. Marcia’s fiction has appeared in Chautauqua Journal, New Millenium Writings, Gemini Magazine, and Glimmer Train, among others.
Author Marketing Experts:
“What happens when a writer plays cello in a professional orchestra for her entire career? Her prose soars. In Water Music, Marcia Peck traces one intricate, intimate melody through the symphonic complexity of a disintegrating family’s summer on Cape Cod. Music and love are interchangeable. Here is a book worthy of reading aloud—and cherishing.”
—Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, author of Swinging on the Garden Gate
“Peck has written a moving and melodic triumph of imagination and story, a fine harmony of intimacies and passions.”
—Nicole Helget, author of The Summer of Ordinary Ways, The Turtle Catcher, Stillwater
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