A Fire Island ferry fills up with passengers in Ocean...

A Fire Island ferry fills up with passengers in Ocean Beach. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Fire Island is always a summer hot spot for Long Islanders as well as tourists, but this year it also seems to be the "in" place for literary characters.

Three new novels — "On Fire Island," "Kismet" and "Bad Summer People" — feature the beach mecca as their setting, and why not. The locale offers everything needed to fill an author's imagination — sun, sand, surf and, of course, sex.

"Fire Island seems to operate on its own axis, sometimes. The sun feels brighter, the time moves slower, the cocktails taste stronger — though that could just be the sweet tea vodka sodas that my father-in-law pours. It feels like a vacation in every sense of the word," says Becky Chalsen, author of "Kismet."

Although all three novels deal with traditional couples, Fire Island's reputation as a hangout for the LBGTQ community is not ignored. "There are chapters in my book that are set in the Pines," said Jane L. Rosen about her novel, "On Fire Island." "It’s a long island. I think every community, because there are no cars and it's not easily traversed, has a distinct personality."

Those personalities come through in this trio, which share a Fire Island setting, but whose stories couldn't be more diverse.

THE BOOK "On Fire Island" by Jane L. Rosen (Berkley, 320 pp., $17)

THE PLOT Book editor Julia Morse has just died at 37, but that doesn't mean she's gone away. Instead, she's spending one last summer watching over her husband as he deals with his grief at the Fire Island beach house they called home.

LI SHOUTOUTS Robert Moses Causeway, Matthew's restaurant and bar and Maguire's Restaurant (both in Ocean Beach), Fire Island News

WHY FIRE ISLAND "I grew up in Baldwin and I raised my family on Fire Island. I met my husband on Fire Island. So I just have beautiful memories of this place," Rosen said. "I was a little torn between keeping it a secret and sharing it with my readers but I made the decision to share it."

Rosen, a former screenwriter, said "On Fire Island" is the most personal of her four novels. She began working on it decades ago and originally envisioned it as a screenplay. "When I became a novelist. I wanted to take the time to perfect my writing until I felt strong enough to write this book," she said. "This book means so much to me. And Fire Island means so much to me, so I wanted to really do it justice. The other three novels were practice."

THE BOOK "Kismet" by Becky Chalsen (Dutton, 352 pp., $17)

THE PLOT Amy, who has just suffered a miscarriage, and her husband, Ben, try to put on a brave face as they attend her twin sister's wedding on Fire Island. That becomes more difficult when Amy learns that the best man is her ex.

LI SHOUTOUTS Le Dock Restaurant in Fair Harbor, Kismet Fire Department, Red Wagon Emporium, Rachel's Bakery

WHY FIRE ISLAND "It feels like a vacation in every sense of the word. But because you can only take a ferry on the Island, it also means you can only take a ferry off. You can’t just call an Uber home, or hop on a train, or into your car and race away," said Chalsen, adding that she's spent more than a decade's worth of summers vacationing in Kismet with her husband's family. "So if there’s a drama … you are stuck right where you’re standing, until the next ferry comes along."

THE BOOK "Bad Summer People" by Emma Rosenblum (Flatiron Books, 272 pp., $28.99)

THE PLOT Five folks who live up to the book's title find their summer plans turned into disarray when a dead body washes up near the boardwalk.

LI SHOUTOUTS The fictional town of Salcombe is a stand-in for Saltaire, but Rosenblum said she used the town's geography. "The boardwalk names, the Saltaire store and yacht club, and the town landmarks all appear as they really are," she said.

WHY FIRE ISLAND Rosenblum said she's a lifelong summer resident of Saltaire, and when she started writing "Bad Summer People" two years ago, no other setting even crossed her mind. "Saltaire is such a singular, beautiful place, and also a great setting for a murder mystery — you have to take a ferry to get in or out; everyone knows everyone; no one locks their doors," she said. "It's perfect."

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