In her newest romance novel "Christmas in Angel Harbor" (Tule Publishing Group, $11.99), acclaimed writer Jeannie Moon returns to Long Island for this heartwarming holiday tale.
Located in the quaint waterfront village of Northport, the second-chance love story follows Jane Fallon and Dan Gallo, former high school sweethearts who find one another again in their 50s.
Moon spoke by phone from her home in Huntington about the differences between young love and old, the strength of small town relationships and why Long Islanders are more than their exit numbers.
Tell me about your dedication: "For the librarians of the world."
Where would we be without them? I’m a school librarian and this is to my colleagues who have been so supportive, embraced my work and promoted me to readers. This is also dedicated to the librarians who turned me into a reader as a child. In third grade, my mother would let me go to the library for half an hour after school. The crossing guard left at 3:30, so I would have time to get there and get home before she left her post.
I read all the "Black Stallion" and "Black Beauty" and Nancy Drew books. "Charlotte’s Web" was the first book I stayed up all night reading. I finished at 2 in the morning and cried. I was 8. Those librarians changed me and gave me a sanctuary.
You’ve written 18 novels. Why are so many located on Long Island?
My family has very deep roots in Huntington. I grew up there; my kids were born in the same hospital, even my grandchildren were born in Huntington Hospital. Everybody says, "Why do you write about L.I.?" And I say, "Why wouldn’t I?" Too often we equate Long Island with the LIE and traffic jams and little subdivisions. We forget about our small towns. Long Island really is made up of small communities. … We often ask: what exit are you? But what connects us to this place goes beyond the highways. It’s a wonderful place to be, and we forget that sometimes.
How did you come to choose Northport as the location for "Christmas in Angel Harbor?"
My "Compass Cove" series takes place in Oyster Bay. I wanted that proximity to the water for this novel, too, the ability to connect the town and the shops and the people to the sea. Oyster Bay is unique in that there really is just one main road in: Cove Road. Northport is similar in that there is the quaint waterfront and the old trolley tracks. The merchants are close to one another; they cooperate, they are close-knit. I wanted a place with tradition and longevity, but flexibility enough that I could play with the location.
Although this is a classic romance novel in many ways, this isn’t the classic romance. Your main characters, Dan and Jane, are in their 50’s.
Yes, this age is nearly unheard of in the romance genre! The bulk of our readers are between 40 and 65, so why shouldn’t the story reflect them? Danny and Jane’s story is a second chance at love, so they have a history. This isn’t insta-love. They are not going to fall in the kind of love you might find at 25 — that rush. They have years and miles behind them. They still have miles ahead and still have emotions and desires, but characters this age are not going to approach a relationship in the same way. Seasoned love is more controlled, more thoughtful. Also more decisive because they have an understanding of what they want.
Jane is also a strong single mother and businesswoman, not your typical romance heroine.
The trend in romance now is for stronger female characters. It switched from hero-centric to heroine-centric across the genre. No more doormats or needy women; our female characters historically needed saving, but no longer. I wanted women to know I wrote her for them. Whatever path you choose, you’re going to be OK. Romance heroines are tough. There are so many strong characters in modern romance these days; this is not your mama’s bodice ripper.
The novel’s opening line is: "November on Long Island was unpredictable." Did you know how unpredictable this holiday season would be when you wrote those words?
I am almost really happy the book has come out at this time because it provides a safe space to escape to for my readers. I like to think my books are a respite. They are not supposed to create any kind of havoc or discord. This novel should be a break for people. I certainly want a break right now! I want to be taken away, I want to know there is hope and that people are essentially good. I want to know that problems can be overcome. I want safety. If my book provides an escape, then I did my job.
And finally, the novel revolves around an independent bookstore, but in real life there isn’t a bookstore in Northport, right?
There is no bookstore in Northport, but I would put one there if I could. I would fill it with genre fiction, and make the biggest romance section ever!