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Guest Post: Ursula DeYoung

July 29, 2013
Ursula DeYoung Author Photo Credit Anther Kiley

Photo Credit: Anther Kiley

I’m thrilled to welcome debut novelist Ursula DeYoung here today to kick off her blog tour.  I’m glad to get to know a little bit about this young author and, after reading her post, I’m anxious to read her book.

When I sat down to write what would become Shorecliff, I decided at once to focus on a big family. This was a departure for me: before Shorecliff I had only written more intimate pieces concentrating on relationships amongst small groups of characters. But once I began planning out the Hatfield family tree, imagining cousin after cousin, I realized that the odd thing was that it had taken me so long to focus on an extended family. After all, family has always been one of the most powerful forces in my life.

I am one of four children, and I have three first cousins who are nearly as close to us as siblings. Each summer, when we were young, the seven of us would spend a week or two with our parents at a summer house, usually a different one each year. I was also lucky enough to grow up near three families as close to my own as if they were relatives—one with two children, one with four, and one with nine. Summers were filled with visits to and from these families, and the variety of personalities, appearances, and interactions was dazzling.

Maybe these experiences are why I love novels about families. There are few things I find more thrilling while reading than discovering that a character has, for example, two brothers and a sister. Immediately my imagination starts racing: what will these siblings be like? will they be similar in appearance or dramatically different? will they be fond of each other or painfully divided? I think my fascination stems from the knowledge that family members are irrevocably connected to each other and yet frequently feel as much resentment and jealousy as they do affection and admiration. The love between siblings and cousins, even if absolute, is often mixed up with irritation or bitterness or simple incomprehension. I know from my own family the enormous range of personalities that can exist within a single group of relatives. The relationships that arise from this range can be complex, frustrating, and as difficult as they are rewarding—but they are always interesting.

I hope that I’ve successfully created just such an engaging network of relationships in the Hatfield family of Shorecliff. Sitting down to create eleven distinct cousins, with five aunts and three uncles to boot, was as exciting for me as entering a penny-candy store when I was a little girl. I could imagine so perfectly the clashes between quiet Yvette and impetuous Francesca, the bond between thoughtful Philip and cheerful Tom, the intertwining loyalties of siblings versus cousins, and above all the gleeful, magical anticipation that Richard feels as he travels towards that mysterious crowd of people, his own family. If I’ve managed to convey anything of this joy in the novel, then I’ve achieved one of my central aims in writing Shorecliff.

Shorecliff was published on July 23.  About the book:

Deyoung_ShorecliffA winning debut novel about a 1920s New England family and the secrets revealed when they reunite over one long summer.

Spending the summer of 1928 in a big house on the Maine coast with his 10 older cousins and a gaggle of aunts and uncles seems like a dream come true to lonely 13-year-old Richard.

But as he wanders through the bustling house, Richard witnesses scenes and conversations not meant for him and watches as the family he adores disintegrates into a tangle of lust, jealousy, and betrayal. At first only an avid spectator, Richard soon finds himself drawn into the confusion, battling with his first experience of infatuation and forced to cover for his relatives’ romantic intrigues.

With jump-off-the-page characters and a captivating sense of place, SHORECLIFF examines the bonds of loyalty and rivalry that can both knit a family together and drive it apart.

Be sure to stop by Beth Fish Reads tomorrow for the next stop on the Shorecliff blog tour.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2013 5:28 am

    Families can have complex relationships. Good Luck with your debut book!

  2. July 29, 2013 6:57 am

    This is definitely my kind of novel. I loved that guest post — I was lucky enough to grow up in the same town with almost 50 assorted relatives from both sides of my family.

  3. readerbuzz permalink
    July 29, 2013 7:00 am

    Books about families always seem to be favorites with me. What is it about families that make them so compelling?

    Here’s my It’s Monday.

  4. July 29, 2013 7:07 am

    I can’t wait to read this book – sounds like many readers will relate to it on some level.

  5. July 29, 2013 9:53 am

    Fun guest post! I agree families offer a wealth of opportunities for stories!

  6. July 29, 2013 9:58 am

    I love the idea of an extended family getting together in the summer. I have a big extended family, but everyone lives all around the globe, so family reunions have been rare. It would have been fun to have grown up with all my various cousins!

  7. July 29, 2013 10:29 am

    Great guest post. I enjoy novels about complex family relationship and Shorecliff sounds good!

  8. July 29, 2013 11:24 am

    My husband comes from a large family. When he was a child, he had four sisters and the extended family would gather at a rented house at Wells Beach, ME. As an only child, I can barely imagine what that was like even though he has told me stories. Maybe this book would give me an idea – without all the trauma and romances.

  9. July 29, 2013 12:02 pm

    I always longed for a big family–and while I do have a lot of cousins on my dad’s side, they lived on the other side of the country when I was growing up and we could never afford to visit them. My own family is quite small, and so my daughter will have a similar experience as I did. I enjoy living vicariously through books, however, and this one does sound good.

  10. July 29, 2013 12:53 pm

    Hi Kathy and Ursula,

    What a lovely insightful guest post.

    Personally I am not a huge fan of the traditional question and answer style interview, so when an author comes along who can just chat, either about something personal to themselves, or related to their writing and books, it is just so refreshing and engages so easily with the reader.

    ‘Shorecliff’ is a definite for my reading list, although I won’t be able to relate to the multiple relationships personally, as both myself and my husband come from relatively small families, which never really get together en masse.

    Good luck with the book Ursula and happy reading kathy,


  11. July 29, 2013 12:58 pm

    This book sounds great! Thanks for sharing your interview.

  12. Patty permalink
    July 29, 2013 1:43 pm

    OMG…I am so excited…I just bought this book and can’t wait to hit the deck and read away!

  13. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 29, 2013 5:04 pm

    Terrific guest post. Congrats to Ursula on her debut!

  14. July 29, 2013 6:03 pm

    Wonderful guest post! I love stories that are centered around family dynamics, and Shorecliff sounds really great. I’ll have to check it out, thanks for sharing!

  15. July 29, 2013 11:37 pm

    Having just spent the weekend with the women of my family I am feeling the family love 🙂

  16. bookingmama permalink
    July 30, 2013 3:10 pm

    I really appreciated this guest post after recently finishing the novel!

  17. July 30, 2013 7:50 pm

    What perfect timing! I am halfway thru Shorecliff {loving it by the way!} and recalling my childhood and being youngest of the girls ~ this book definitely evokes childhood memories. And I loved this guest post!

  18. July 31, 2013 1:50 am

    Insightful post. Always nice to have a little background information about the author and the novel. I have a copy of Shorecliff and look forward to reading it.

  19. July 31, 2013 10:52 am

    This book sounds wonderful. I hadn’t heard of it before but it’s definitely something that I’d like to read. Great guest post!

  20. August 2, 2013 9:42 am

    Great post. Thank you!

  21. Staci@LifeintheThumb permalink
    August 5, 2013 8:52 pm

    Awesome post! This is a book that sounds great to me!

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