I just signed a contract for my second novel, The Cottage Industry. What’s it about?
It’s 1922. David Enders, a pilot for the French Army during the war, returns to Connecticut. He’s been wandering post-war France as a nervous pilot: a term the army uses to distinguish airmen from the mass of shell-shocked soldiers who fought in the trenches. Now he’s home to contend with a difficult father, a sister locked in a mysterious post-influenza coma, and a volatile country still in the grips of wartime paranoia and civil liberty restrictions.
He finds work with a real estate company building private beach homes along the coast—the effect of which will be to close off the shoreline to all but a few lucky middle-class buyers. The company’s private beaches are restricted to “true Americans,” and those property restrictions force Enders into awkward encounters with ethnic families and the NAACP.
He’s working in Old Lyme. It’s a summertime town of bootleggers, rum runners, flappers, clammers, crooked deputies, and the famous Old Lyme Art Colony whose impressionist painters don’t want their bucolic landscapes marred by cookie-cutter cottages. Here, Enders doesn’t so much reinvent himself as rebuild himself. He starts flying again only to be shot at by rum runners. He falls in love with a young artist—Karen Bates—only to have a bent cop threaten her with wartime public health laws. Lost liberties and personal secrets test Enders’ still fragile character. He and Karen are two people surrounded by suffocating customs and illiberal laws. They’re looking for an escape.