The Bone Cay, the latest release by Eliza Nellums.
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
The Bone Cay by Eliza Nellums
From the critically acclaimed author of All That’s Bright and Gone comes an atmospheric thriller that unearths a cache of age-old secrets–and a hidden danger–in the Florida Keys.
Magda Trudell is the present-day caretaker of Whimbrel Estate, the Key West home of the famous poet Isobel Reyes. Isobel’s suicide at the residence in 1918 has nearly overshadowed her creative legacy–but Magda, a botanist and avid historian, is determined to protect it. Over the past decade, Magda has lovingly restored the house to the exact condition Isobel would have known. And even though a fierce October hurricane is headed straight for the Keys, she isn’t about to abandon her life’s work to evacuate.
As the mighty storm makes landfall, the dangers mount. First, a fire and flood threaten to destroy the house. Then the storm claims most of Magda’s supplies. When part of the house collapses, she unearths an old steamer trunk in the rubble that contains a woman’s remains. Is there more to Isobel’s story than Magda knows?
The unexpected appearance of a teenage girl and her father seeking shelter from the storm poses unnerving new questions. Are they really who they seem? And could they have a connection to the house’s shadowy past? As the storm rages, Magda desperately tries to solve the real mystery of Isobel’s death–and keep the living in one piece.
To purchase The Bone Cay, click on any of the following links: bookshop.org, Amazon, Barnes & Noble & Target
The Bone Cay — The Interview with Eliza Nellums
Tell us about the Whimbrel Estate:
Whimbrel House is the former estate of the famous (fictional) poet Isobel Reyes, who died under tragic circumstances in 1918. It has a beautiful naturalized gardens and a view of the water. The house is loosely based on the Hemingway house in Key West, Florida.
What should readers know about Magda Trudell?
Magda is a prickly woman who is extremely passionate about preserving Isobel’s legacy. A botanist and a historian, she has restored the house and gardens to the exact condition they were in during Isobel’s life. Growing up under difficult circumstances, Magda found a lot of comfort in Isobel’s poetry and it has always been a touchstone for her – which is why, as a category 4 hurricane bears down on the Estate, she refuses to evacuate.
The Bone Cay is very different than your debut, All That’s Bright and Gone. Tell us about that shift, did you set out to write a very different story? Or did they each just come to you?
My first book had a first-person child narrator, six-year-old Aoife Scott, which meant I was quite limited in what I could describe. Aoife can’t even read and she isn’t very good at judging the motivations or intentions of adults – plus all the action had to take place within a reasonable realm of influence a child, in one square block of one neighborhood, over one holiday weekend.
I had a lot of fun writing that story but I knew for my second attempt I wanted a little more space to work. Otherwise I’d have to write from the point of view of an animal (or an inanimate object?) to top myself!
I started a draft of The Bone Cay after reading about the caretakers of the Hemingway house who refused to evacuate during Hurricane Irma – this was back in 2017. I was fascinated with this story and the question of why someone would risk their lives like that. That was the question that started me on the path to this novel.
“I think there’s an art to putting your work out there and being proud of it, being willing to do whatever you can do to help it launch – while also knowing how to detach from the parts you can’t control.”
Now that you have two books under your belt, what do you wish you had known about the publishing side of the industry before you launched your first book?
I think there’s an art to putting your work out there and being proud of it, being willing to do whatever you can do to help it launch – while also knowing how to detach from the parts you can’t control.
Most of the publishing experience is bigger than the actions of an individual author, for good or bad. With my first book it felt like such a whirlwind, and I didn’t know what was a lucky break versus a pretty standard experience, so I was sort of just dwelling in the moment. It’s a bit harder to do that with subsequent books because you have something to compare it to.
But I’m going to try to focus on the parts that I can do, and letting the rest go.
What are you reading these days?
I’m in the middle of P.J. Vernon’s BATH HAUS and S. A. Crosby’s RAZORBLADE TEARS. They are very different – the former is more of a twisty-turny thriller, while the latter is more of a gritty redemption story – but I’m enjoying them both.
What are you working on now?
It’s weird to be an author knowing each book could be your last! I’m not under contract for a third novel yet, but I do have lots of hopes and dreams of future books. Both my novels so far have important animal characters (a bear in the first book, lemurs and a heron in the second) and I’d like to keep exploring themes of nature and wilderness. I’m really interested in birds right now and I’d like to write a mystery set at a bird sanctuary.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Writers:
I remember sitting in the audience at a Thrillerfest conference and one of the speakers (I can’t remember who now!) said – ‘look, if you take the industry seriously, and you keep writing, and you put in the time, you will break in eventually. Don’t make it a question or a referendum on your talent. And don’t rush through this time when you get to play around and take risks without fear.’
It really changed my perspective and I think about that a lot now. Especially with self-publishing being more accessible than ever, there really is a place for everyone at the table and no need to rush in before your work is ready. It’s okay to take your time.
Great advice! And wonderful to see you back with your second novel. Best of luck on the launch!
Animal Pet Corner!
I have long been a passionate cat foster-er and kitten lady, with one resident cat of my own, Maisy.
This year I really mixed it up and took on a big rescue mutt named Max. Thank goodness everyone gets along great so far!
Author of The Bone Cay Eliza Nellums
Raised in the Detroit suburbs, Eliza Nellums now lives with her cat in Washington DC.
She is a member of Bethesda Writer’s Center as well as the Metro Wriders, a weekly critique group that meets in Dupont Circle.
To learn more about Eliza, click on her name, photo, or any of the following links: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite bookstores and on-line retailers.
For more information on All We Buried, click on the link here to visit the home page.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator 2020
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery 2020