Kim Wright is the author of Love in Mid Air and has been writing about travel, food, and wine for more than twenty years. She has been previously published in Wine Spectator, Self, Travel & Leisure, and Vogue and has twice won the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing. Kim lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and ballroom dances competitively. Her second novel, The Unexpected Waltz, is out June 3 from Simon and Schuster and available everywhere books are sold.
Most people think of novelists as loners, as solitary figures hunched over their desks scribbling while the rain pounds against the windowpanes. But that group of women chatting and joking at a table in the Arboretum Panera Bread? We’re writers too, a group of Facebook-friends-turned-real-life friends who have been meeting here for lunch over the last two years. And, amazingly, all four of us have books coming out this summer.
“One of the primary myths about writers is that we’re introverts,” says Marybeth Whalen, who found the rest of us through social media and was the impetus for bringing the group together. “I wanted to meet area writers, but I had no idea there were three other female novelists so close, all with books coming out in rapid succession. It’s incredibly lucky because nobody can understand what a writer goes through quite like another writer.”
She’s right. Entering the rapidly-changing publishing industry is like buying tickets for a roller coaster. But at least we’re on the ride together. We call ourselves, tongue in cheek, The Panera Bread Literary Society and our upcoming books are:
The Unexpected Waltz
By Kim Wright (Gallery, June 3)
Get “The Unexpected Waltz” here
Fans of Dancing With the Stars will love this novel, which explores how to find your balance by being willing to lose it. Kelly Wilder has spent her life trying to be the perfect wife, immersing herself in charity work and dinner parties. But now her husband has unexpectedly died and Kelly has far too much time and money on her hands—and absolutely no idea what happens next.
On a whim she signs up for a ballroom dancing class, and slowly, step by high-heeled step, begins to rebuild her life with the help of friends old and new: Nik, a young Russian dance teacher who reawakens the artistic potential she left behind; Carolina, a woman in hospice, anxious to experience a whole lifetime in a few months; and Elyse, Kelly’s girlhood best friend who knows all of her past secrets—including the truth about the man who long ago broke Kelly’s heart.
The Bridge Tender
By Marybeth Whalen (Zondervan, June 3)
Get “The Bridge Tender” here
Must all of our dreams die with our first love? In the latest book from Whalen’s popular Sunset Beach collection (The Wishing Tree, The Guest Book), young widow Emily Shaw learns that her husband’s last surprise for her involves returning to Sunset Beach. Reluctantly, she puts her grief aside and visits the place where she had once been so happy, hoping to realize pieces of the dream they had shared together.
There, tucked into the oasis of the close-knit beach community, she bonds with a host of townspeople and finds herself drawn into a controversy over the fate of a nostalgic bridge linking Sunset to the mainland. In this crucial summer that spans her past and future, Emily meets a man who just may be the one to restore her faith in second chances.
It Comes In Waves
By Erica Marks (Penguin, July 1)
Get “It Comes In Waves” here
For competitive surfer Claire “Pepper” Patton, the waves of South Carolina’s Folly Beach once held the promise of a loving future and a bright career—until her fiancé, Foster, broke the news that he and Claire’s best friend, Jill, were in love.
Eighteen years later, now forty-two and a struggling single parent to a rebellious teenage daughter, Claire has put miles between that betrayal and that coast. When ESPN invites her back to Folly Beach for a documentary on women in surfing, Claire decides it might be the chance she needs to regain control of her life and reacquaint herself with the unsinkable young woman she once was. But not everything in Folly Beach is as Claire remembers it, most especially her ex-best friend, Jill, who is now widowed and raising her and Foster’s teenage son. An unexpected reunion with Claire will uncover a guilt that Jill has worked hard to bury—and bring to the surface years of unspoken blame. Can two estranged friends find forgiveness in the place that was once their coastal paradise?
By Kim Boykin (Penguin, August 5)
Get “Palmetto Moon” here
Unlike the rest of the circa-1947 debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from Charleston and the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.
In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.