Tuesday, 15 May 2018

What they're reading on Fire Island this year

Life really should be a beach
The other night I was Facebook messaging with a lovely woman I didn't know, but who co-runs a fab book group called The Fiction CafĂ© - Book Club, and whom I discovered was based in New York.

I was thrilled when she told me she had ordered a digital version of my novel for herself. Great, and thank you very much.

But then she added that she had also purchased a paperback version for the guests to enjoy at a beach property she manages on Fire Island, a long slithering and beautiful barrier stretch of land off the East Coast of the US.

Now I was born on the coast. Okay the east coast of Scotland, not half as sunny, so I've sought out
Gay favourite Fire Island
hot beaches out my whole life and I have great memories of partying on Fire Island in the late 1990s.

Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, as most visitors will know, are two of the most exclusive areas of the island and have long been popular destinations among the gay community. Don't we just love a bit of destination exclusivity?

By the way, there's a lot of beach in my novel Changing Trains. As the main character Sam travels around Europe, he heads to some fab beaches from the overcrowded sands of Benidorm on Spain's Costa Blanca, to the chic glamour of Cannes and Nice and the glittering, opulent shores of Monaco's Monte Carlo.

Isherwood (left) & Auden, Fire Island regulars
But back to Fire Island, and I only just discovered that my muse for Changing Trains, Christopher Isherwood, often visited the island along with his great friend, the poet WH Auden. Of course both typically got up to no good and were generally outrageous, I'm very pleased to learn.

Now, I don't have the rights to use it here, but if you Google 'Isherwood on Fire Island', you will come across photos of these two friends, together with fellow British writer Stephen Spender, on Fire Island in 1947.

I'm really touched that my little novel about Sam, travelling around 1980s Europe, coming to terms with his sexuality and learning about the wider world, has made its way to one of my favourite US beach destinations.

But I'm more impressed to learn that my muse also enjoyed everything that Fire Island has to offer, long before I was around. I feel closer to Isherwood now and share his love of fun in the sun.

So thank you Meghan Gibbons, I hope the boys enjoy their reading material. This modern day British, gay, writer is hoping they'll give it a glowing review on Amazon, once they've bronzed themselves in the hot Fire Island sunshine of course.

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