Nina de Gramont

Author of The Christie Affair

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Local novelist releases first murder mystery

From Henry David Thoreau to Ralph Waldo Emerson, many great American writers sought inspiration at Cape Cod. Nina de Gramont, author and professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, said her experiences living at Cape Cod with her husband influenced the plot and setting of her newly released novel, “The Last September.”

“We were in Cape Cod during the offseason. We didn’t have any neighbors,” she said.

The solitude de Gramont endured during the offseason, which extends from Labor Day to Memorial Day, inspired her to write her first mystery.

“It revolves around a murder,” she said. “I’d never worked on a mystery before, so that was a challenge to me.”

De Gramont was also challenged while creating a schizophrenic character.

“I did a lot of reading, and I have a family member who is schizophrenic, so I know the ins and outs of what that does to a family,” she said.

Throughout the novel, Brett tries to figure out who murdered her husband, Charlie. Charlie’s brother, Eli, who has spent a significant amount of time in psychiatric hospitals, is one of the suspects. The murder also forces Brett to realize that her marriage to Charlie was less than perfect.

De Gramont said she worked on the novel, on and off, for 10 years. Four years ago, an editor at Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill, N.C., bought the book based on the first 50 pages. De Gramont said she and her editor went through at least four drafts of the novel before it was published.

“The Last September” is de Gramont’s seventh book. Her other works include “Choice,” a collection of short stories called “Of Cats and Men,” “Gossip of the Starlings,” “Every Little Thing in the World,” “Meet Me at the River” and “The Boy I Love.”

When asked which of her books is her favorite, de Gramont said, “I tend to like the most recent one the most.”

However, de Gramont admitted her partiality to “Meet Me at the River,” a young adult novel about a teenage girl who is visited by the ghost of her dead boyfriend.

De Gramont’s advice to new writers is, “Stick to a schedule, write lots of pages and rewrite them tirelessly.”