Meg West's debut novel came out on July 17. She's writing a second book, 'Love on Lido Key.'
When Meg West sat down to write her book, she tuned in her biggest inspiration, Jane Austen.
“When we think of romance, we think of some kind of fairy tale,” West said. “There’s a touch of that in her books, but she’s very realistic about the way people act and the circumstances that people face.”
As a teenager, West was inspired by Austen’s book such as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma.” Now, West is hoping to inspire readers of her own.
Instead of an English setting, however, West focused on a more local backdrop — Longboat Key.
On July 17, West’s debut novel, “Love on Longboat Key” was released as an ebook by Champagne Books. It’s available on Amazon, iTunes, barnesandnoble.com, champagnebooks.com and other ebook retailers.
The book is the first in a trilogy, "The Keys to his Heart." West is working on the second in the series, “Love on Lido Key.”
Aside from referring to local beaches — the third book will take place on Siesta Key — the three-part fictional series will follow three heroines each facing their own crossroads.
In “Love on Longboat Key,” the main character, Julie Joseph, is heading to Longboat Key for Christmas to be with her cranky parents. When Julie arrives, she meets bachelor Thomas Briggs IV whose parents moved into the same complex as Julie’s parents. Thomas' father also happens to be the CEO of Pilgrim Mutual Insurance where Julie is a copywriter.
The two only have a few days together before returning north, and a bigger problem arises when Julie learns her boss is also vying for Thomas’ attention.
The second book will focus on a young widow, and the third will be about a woman who breaks off an engagement.
“I like to write romantic comedy that’s usually about younger people who are at the stage in their life where they’re not sure if they’re going to take Road A or Road B, so it’s the whole idea of a young woman being at a crossroads,” West said.
West lives north of Tampa, but she hopes to move to the Sarasota area one day. She visits the area a couple times a year and has a collection of photographs and memories she used as inspiration for the book.
“Love on Longboat Key” starts in Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
“I think it’s just one of the most magical places on Earth,” West said.
Growing up, West said she loved watching films and tried to translate that into writing. She likes to write books as if they were being filmed, with a style that portrays a minute-by-minute experience of the characters.
For West, part of the fun in writing the book was picturing herself in their shoes, or more accurately, their flip-flops.
“If you’re having fun writing, hopefully your readers will have a lot of fun reading it,” she said.
West said she is hoping readers can relate to the notion of having aging parents, who can be annoying from time to time, but she also wants them to be entertained.
“That’s always a great thing about a book, slipping into another world. But I also hope that they loved to read about the beauty of Florida and the beaches and the dilemmas that the heroines have,” she said.