Author, Nicole Quigley shares the romantic setting from her Young Adult novel, Like Moonlight at Low Tide, plus a chance to win a copy. Comment on any post dated Sept 24 – 28 to get your name in the drawing. Deadline: Oct 6th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Nicole:
Shannon asked me to write about the setting of my book, Look Moonlight at Low Tide, and why it is a great romantic location.
Before I write this article, I want you to know that I am doing so at the risk of incurring the wrath of my neighbors. The thing about the island is: no one on the island wants the rest of the world to know about it, myself included. After Southern Living and New York Times reported on its virtues, I figured I could get away with writing about it for my book –you know, in the name of art. But this post might be a little bit like pouring salt in the wound. Islanders, have grace. Blessings were meant to be shared.
Once you cross the old Florida draw-bridge on Manatee Avenue and see the turquoise water and tree-lined beaches waiting for you on the other side, a sense comes over you that is one part peace and one part audacious hope that it will never, ever change. This is the moment you know that you get the island.
On the island, we have sunsets, and I mean sunsets. People often forget that the U.S. has “another” West Coast, and that is the West Coast of Florida, where the Gulf of Mexico is flat, clear, and agreeable most of the time. Shots of pink and orange light up the sky every night here, and you can watch the daily migration of locals (seagulls and people both) make their way to the beach every night around the hour.
We have two historic sections where couples can stroll in and out of beach shops or salty taverns for key lime pie and conch fritters or fish. What’s that they’re serving? Grouper. It’s always grouper.
We have daily dolphin sightings, a sand bar you can swim to and anchor a raft, sand dollars you can pick-up with your toes, residents who post signs in their yard like “free mangoes,” and a bike lane that goes on for miles over to the next key. One of my favorite places is the Roser Community Chapel, which dates back to the early 1900s and smells of wood and humidity and the prayers of grandparents. It reminds me that this island has its own story to tell, and it’s been telling it each season to visitors from far-away places like Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and even Ohio.
Perhaps Anna Maria Island is also a great romantic location for what it isn’t. No fast food. No “gentlemen’s” clubs. No rude people honking their horns (you’d have to be really rude to honk at a golf cart, which is what many of us drive around the island). It’s Florida the way Florida always knew it could be.
On the north end of the island, cell phone reception is spotty, which means you’ll have a good excuse to turn your device O-F-F. Now, Shannon hasn’t given me enough words to share with you the vibrant debate between pro-tower and anti-tower residents. But for now I will pitch it as a perk: a reminder of a day when you could simply exhale and focus—really focus—on the person in front of you. Here we say, “Slow still gets you there.” That is why you come to the island.
For the teenage characters in Like Moonlight at Low Tide, it was the perfect setting for an emotionally charged and desperate quest for love and affection. As a young couple strived to find hope and escape, they did it against a backdrop that others often call paradise asleep. It offered the perfect contrast. And the island, as a display of God’s amazing creation, served as a character in its own right. It was able to show many of the characters just how beautiful their Creator is. Beauty, like nothing else, can crash into youth with the full spin of the earth and say all that otherwise would be disregarded.
I think Anna Maria Island is a great romantic setting because the One who created it is romancing us all the time, and it’s easy to see the fact when you’re sitting on a deck, feeling a warm breeze at the back of your neck, and remembering what it means to listen to crickets and gaze at stars.
About Nicole: Nicole Quigley is the author of young adult fiction novel Like Moonlight at Low Tide, which was published by Zondervan this month. It is the winner of the American Christian Fiction Association’s “Genesis Award” for best young adult fiction. You can find Nicole at http://www.nicolequigley.com/ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nicolequigleybooks. You can find the book on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Like-Moonlight-Low-Tide-Sometimes/dp/0310723590 and other major retailers.
About the book – Like Moonlight at Low Tide: When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom’s latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.