Award-Winning Novelist Elin Hilderbrand Dishes On Her Latest Book, This Year’s Boston Wine & Food Festival & Her Upcoming Retirement

2022 is already gearing up to be a pretty big year for Elin Hilderbrand. The award-winning author has yet another book, The Hotel Nantucket, coming out this summer and is currently in discussions with Hollywood to transform some of her novels to the big screen.

Next month, the Golden Girl herself will be coming to Boston to host a celebratory weekend at the 33rd annual Boston Wine & Food Festival on February 26 and 27. The Saturday night wine dinner inspired by her novel, The Blue Bistro, will be held in collaboration with Nantucket-based CRU Restaurant Executive Chef Erin Zircher where she will be discussing some of the inspirations behind her best-selling novels. On Sunday morning, she will host a Bubbles & Brunch Q&A session with guests.

We caught up recently with Hilderbrand to discuss the inspiration behind her new book due out this summer, her retirement plans for 2024 and what the next chapter in life holds for her.

Photo Credit: Provided

When did you first become interested in writing?

I have been writing since I was in second grade. My second grade teacher gave everyone in the class an award and my award was the Top Author Award. So, I basically have been writing since I was a little kid. My parents sent me to writing camp when I was in high school and I knew when I went to college, I wanted to major in creative writing, which I did at Johns Hopkins. Then I moved to New York and worked in publishing, which I hated, and then got a job teaching. I had the summer off and I decided I wanted to go to Nantucket. I had grown up going to Brewster in the summer with my family, but I didn’t know what Nantucket was since I had never been there.

So, I went to Nantucket in the summer of 1993, fell madly in love with it then went back to New York, taught one more year and then moved to Nantucket permanently in 1994. Then I went to graduate school a couple years later in Iowa and that was really where I sort of got the idea. I was totally, totally miserable there and there was a therapist there who said to me, “You know what you have to do, right?” I said, “I have no idea,” and that’s when she said, “You need to start writing a book about Nantucket.” So I started writing The Beach Club, which was my first novel that sold for $5,000, but it did pretty well and then I got an offer for two more books. It really took until my sixth novel, which was called Barefoot, for my career to take off. It was with my sixth book that I switched publishers and it made a huge difference. They really developed my brand.

Photo Credit: Provided

What was the inspiration behind your latest book, The Hotel Nantucket, due out this summer?

It is based on The Nantucket Hotel. I just had back-to-back fan weekends and have held them there since 2015. There’s a lot of drinking involved. I jokingly called it the Elin Hilderbrand Drinking Weekend. It’s cocktail parties and themed dinners, and we went to the brewery and we went to The Chicken Box. We were the only people on Nantucket so we had it all to ourselves. I have spent a lot of time at the hotel and it’s just so special. I wanted to write a fictional version of a grand hotel downtown and that’s what the book is about.

Can you share some information on the book-to-Hollywood adaptations that you have in the works?

I have six (and possibly seven) projects in development right now with Hollywood, all with different networks, including a movie deal. Two of the projects right now are at the finish line, but they may or not get made; that’s just the reality of it. I have had two deals go belly up that took an entire year. I have found Hollywood to be very frustrating, but I have so many irons in the fire that I am hopeful one of them will get made.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Boston Harbor Hotel

Next month, you are coming to the city for a weekend of festivities at the Boston Wine & Food Festival. How did that opportunity come about? 

I am friends with Nancy Bean, who used to work the Nantucket Wine Festival and that was a favorite event of mine. Then for a while, she worked down in the Virgin Islands and I have a series of books down in the Virgin Islands. She is now running the Boston Wine Festival and asked if I wanted to get involved, said it was being held at the Boston Harbor Hotel, which is one of my two favorites because I love XV Beacon as well. It felt like a really good match and it was good timing for me because I don’t have a ton going on in February and I know because of COVID, a lot of my readers haven’t been able to come see me in any location, not even in Boston. I am happy to be able to offer it.

Tell us about your future plans when you retire in 2024.

I have been writing a book a year since 2000 and for seven years, I wrote two books a year so I finally stepped back to one book a year. I really feel that the novels on Nantucket will come to an organic end. I will probably will write another book in retirement, but I will do it on my own timeframe, my own topic; it might be set on Nantucket or it might not be. I am not going to stick to the really brutal deadlines that I have now. I am going to give myself a break. I have heard that some readers are upset and I want to reassure them it’s not that I am not stopping writing all together; but the business model I have been doing for the last 22 years will be coming to an end. I really want to be a book influencer, and just focus on being a reader and bringing people’s attentions to books they can read instead of my books.