First fiction features food, love and Whidbey-inspired locales
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 10, 2012 · Updated 2:49 PM
An identity struggle, a search for love, plus delicious gourmet food — and the recipes — blend to form Coupeville literary agent Andrea Hurst’s first novel. A book launch party is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15 at Bayleaf in Coupeville.
“The Guestbook” takes place on scenic Madrona Island in the Pacific Northwest, and Whidbey Islanders may notice a few similarities to Hurst’s home island, Whidbey.
“I really modeled a lot of the idea on Whidbey and kept it fiction to play with it a bit,” Hurst said.
Hurst got the idea for the story while visiting the Farm House Bed & Breakfast in Clinton when she saw the owner reading the guestbook.
“It’s just a peek into people’s lives… and I just got the idea right there,” Hurst said.
A journey into the imagination began. Hurst visited a number of bed and breakfasts and had the opportunity to look at some of the guestbooks for ideas.
“The Guestbook” focuses on Lily Parkins, who flees her overbearing husband and life among the privileged set to take over her grandmother’s island bed and breakfast. Lily struggles to rediscover her own identity, but must ultimately decide if she’s strong enough to pursue her dreams and to fall in love again, Hurst said.
“Escape. I wrote it for escape,” Hurst said, adding that “The Guestbook” is the perfect vacation read to curl up with — especially with a few of the divine brownies featured in the book.
“I wrote it for people who want a fun read and fun recipes,” Hurst said. The mouthwatering dishes made in the book aren’t just left to the imagination — the real recipes are in the book.
Although Hurst is a Coupeville resident, she wasn’t living on the island during most of the writing process. Her favorite part of writing the book was returning to the island to do research surrounded by the natural beauty.
Hurst has worked as a literary agent for years through her business, Andrea Hurst & Associates Literary Management, and she has penned nonfiction books, including “The Lazy Dog’s Guide to Enlightenment” and “A Book of Miracles.” For Hurst, writing fiction was “a whole different ride.”
“I’ve become totally hooked on it now,” Hurst said of writing fiction. “The Guestbook” is just the first in the Madrona Island trilogy and readers can expect number two to come out next year.
Hurst also volunteers her time at Just Write on the Pier, a group that meets every Wednesday in Coupeville to write, and she teaches through the master of fine arts in creative writing program through the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts.
“There are a lot of writers on this island and a lot of great inspiration here, a lot of beautiful places,” Hurst said.
“The Guestbook” is available on Amazon.com as well as in local bookstores and at the book launch party Aug. 15, at which Hurst will also read from the book.
“Fiction takes a lot of work but it’s worth it and I’m just excited to share it with readers. I hope readers enjoy it,” Hurst said.
For more information or to purchase the book, visit www.andreahurst-author.com.
Book signing set in Coupeville
Get a copy of “The Guestbook” signed by author Andrea Hurst at her book launch party, set for 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 15 at Bayleaf in Coupeville. Bayleaf is located at 101 NW Coveland St.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.