Monday, May 30, 2022

Sarah McCoy Interview - Mustique Island

Photo Credit: Nina Subin

SARAH MCCOY is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the novels Mustique Island (forthcoming from Harper Collins in May 2022), Marilla of Green Gables, The Mapmaker’s Children, The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award Best Historical Fiction nominee, the novella “The Branch of Hazel” in Grand Central, The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico, and Le souffle des feuilles et des promesses (Pride and Providence).

Her work has been featured in Real Simple, The Millions, Your Health Monthly, Huffington Post, Read It Forward, Writer Unboxed, and other publications. She was the host of the NPR WSNC Radio monthly program “Bookmarked with Sarah McCoy” from 2018-2019 and a Board Member for the literary nonprofit Bookmarks. Sarah taught English writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The daughter of an Army officer, her family was stationed in Germany during her childhood. After a decade in El Paso, Texas, she now lives with her husband, Dr. Brian Waterman, an orthopedic sports surgeon at Wake Forest University, and fur children Gilly Pup and Tutu Cat in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she is working on her next novel.


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
My family in Puerto Rico and growing up visiting there often as a child and into my adulthood. My family has a generational farm there in a town called Aibonito, which is in the innermost mountainous territory of the island. The people from there are sometimes referred to as jibaros, which translates to a Puerto Rican small farmer. My debut novel is titled The Time It Snowed In Puerto Rico, a coming of age novel set in the 1960s.

Greatest thing you learned in school.
That once you learn all the rules of whatever it is you wish to become proficient in, break ‘em. It surprised me (in the best possible way) to discover that head knowledge is an altogether different thing than heart knowledge. And you only get the rich heart stuff by living, experiencing, making mistakes, and coloring outside the lines.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Being able to give each of the 7 books I’ve published to my grandparents. They both turned 90 years old this year with Mustique Island in their hands. I recognize how incredibly blessed I am to have my grandparents with me still. To have them reading and holding my book children and me.

Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I read all the Anne of Green Gables series as a child, and I distinctly remember re-reading the part when Anne publishes her first book. It filled me with so much vicarious joy. I had a special glitter rainbow bookmark that I kept just at that scene and whenever I felt sad or lonely or something hard was happening in my life, I would go and read it. I think I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, even if I didn’t consciously think it.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Don’t ever try to mimic anyone else. Even the authors you most admire—especially not the ones you most admire! In developing your own voice, I’d say the biggest piece of advice I can give new writers is to USE their own voice. You can’t sharpen a sword if you never take it out of the sheath. Same goes for the rhetorical pen.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m one of those mum authors when it comes to my next project(s). I like having the freedom to change my mind at any point. But what I can share is that I’m really jiving with the more contemporary decades—1970s to 1990s.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope readers come for the island escape and leave with heart treasures—what it means to be worthy of love and family and all the riches that can’t be bought.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
The characters helped me learn that my scars—my past mistakes and present choices— are what make me uniquely me. They are what shape the history that I’m creating in this moment. So why focus on the past and why fret about the future? Today is the day. The choice is simple: to seize it or not. Neither one is necessarily good nor bad. Our lives are a spectrum. It’s important that we give ourselves the freedom to reinvent ourselves. With each turn, the light through us casts a different color.

  • 1. Summer reading is everything. Books are vacations that don’t require you to pack, plan, or stress about travel. Pick up and go!
  • 2. Everybody needs a beach read, even if they can’t get to a beach—maybe especially if they can’t get to a beach!
  • 3. We all want to know what celebrities are doing in secret. Mustique Island gives a behind-the-scenes immersion.
  • 4. Similarly, we all want to know more about the British royals. Mustique Island was the private playground for Princess Margaret and her entourage.
  • Side note: Binge watch The Crown on Netflix after reading. You’re welcome.
  • 5. Because we love messy, beautiful family dramas. Aren’t we all living in some kind? It’s nice to read other people’s and feel seen… or grateful that yours is less messy!
  • 6. For those who can’t resist People magazine. This is the extended version. Scandal is fun and Mustique Island is full of it.
  • 7. You want a beach read, but you also want to discover and learn something about a place, people, and time cloaked in secrecy. That’s the beauty of historical fiction. The make-believe comes with facts.
  • 8. Mustique Island is a real place. Do an Internet search and you’ll get a taste. Get the book for the full beach roast.
  • 9. You like to throw theme parties with your book club friends. Bring on the 70s glitz, tiki torches, and Jell-O molds! You can create your own Mustique Island right in your backyard.
  • 10. You want a book that you can read with your book besties, gasp, laugh, cry, and close the covers only to open your web browser and try to find a way to Mustique Island… because the mystique of Mustique is a powerful force. It’s a vibe.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Spontaneously buy a ticket (plane, train, bus, whatever) and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Allow yourself to be in the entirely new setting and let yourself be new in it. Experience it with fearless wonder.

Best date you've ever had?
This is a hard question to answer given that I’ve been dating my husband since I was seventeen. I can’t recall one best date, but I'm sure if there was one, it would be with him. I can tell you that our first date was pretty magical. We were high schoolers and he worked at Baskin Robbins. I came by the shop when he was locking up for the night and he bought me (with his employee coupons) heaping scoops of rainbow sherbet. We talked and laughed, and I ate every bit of sweetness while he mopped the floors.

How far away from your birthplace do you live now?
As a child of a career Army officer, I was born in Ft. Knox, Kentucky, but moved every few of years thereafter. So, I don't have any real ties to my birthplace. I think of it more as one of the ports on my journey.

From bestselling author Sarah McCoy, a sun-splashed romp with a rich divorcĂ©e and her two wayward daughters in 1970s Mustique, the world’s most exclusive private island, where Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger were regulars and scandals stayed hidden from the press.

It’s January 1972 but the sun is white hot when Willy May Michael’s boat first kisses the dock of Mustique Isle. Tucked into the southernmost curve of the Caribbean, Mustique is a private island that has become a haven for the wealthy and privileged. Its owner is the eccentric British playboy Colin Tennant, who is determined to turn this speck of white sand into a luxurious neo-colonial retreat for his rich friends and into a royal court in exile for the Queen’s rebellious sister, Princess Margaret—one where Her Royal Highness can skinny dip, party, and entertain lovers away from the public eye.

Willy May, a former beauty queen from Texas—who is also no stranger to marital scandals—seeks out Mustique for its peaceful isolation. Determined to rebuild her life and her relationships with her two daughters, Hilly, a model, and Joanne, a musician, she constructs a fanciful white beach house across the island from Princess Margaret—and finds herself pulled into the island’s inner circle of aristocrats, rock stars, and hangers-on.

When Willy May’s daughters arrive, they discover that beneath its veneer of decadence, Mustique has a dark side, and like sand caught in the undertow, their mother-daughter story will shift and resettle in ways they never could have imagined.
You can purchase Mustique Island at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SARAH MCCOY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy.


  1. I can't really pick a best place. There are a few places in Canada that I just love but there are places in Thailand and Greece that are just as wonderful. Too tough a question for me, I guess

  2. Pelee Island, Ontario is one of the best places in Canada.

  3. Cape Cod is the best place for relaxing. Although a 3 week trip to Europe after graduating high school was full of experiences of learning new cultures and trying new food. My granny was the oldest on the tour while I was the youngest and we chaperoned each other.