Dreaming of Leaving Academia to Write Full-time?


Welcome to The Academic Life! In this episode you’ll hear about: Nancy Thayer’s path through college and graduate school, her work as a professor, how she hit a glass ceiling in academia, her decision to pursue writing as a full-time career, her life on an island off the coast of Massachusetts, and a discussion of the book Girls of Summer.

Our guest is: Nancy Thayer, the New York Times bestselling author of Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, An Island Christmas, Nantucket Sisters, A Nantucket Christmas, Island Girls, Summer Breeze, Heat Wave, Beachcombers, Summer House, and Moon Shell Beach. Her books center on families and relationships: marriage and friendships, divorce and love, custody and step parenting, family secrets and private self-affirmation, the quest for independence and the normal human hunger for personal connections. Her work has been translated into German, Finnish, Hebrew, Russian, Turkish, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Serbo-Croatian, Swedish, Danish, and Polish. She has a B.A. and M.A. in English literature from the University of Missouri at Kansas City. She was a Fellow at the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. In 2015, she was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for Mainstream Fiction. She has lived on Nantucket Island for over thirty years with her husband Charley Walters; her daughter is the novelist Samantha Wilde. You can find Nancy’s videos and photos of Nantucket Island life by following Nancy Thayer on Facebook, or Instagram.

Today’s book is: Girls of Summer, a novel set on Nantucket, which explores themes about single parenting, female friendships, starting over after a divorce, opioid addiction, romance between older women and younger men, climate change, and rising waters.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, co-producer of the Academic Life. She used to live on the same island as Nancy Thayer; they often met for lunch or coffees and talked all things books and writing and friendship and life.

Listeners to this episode may also be interested in:

--This article about Charley Walter’s work for Rolling Stone

--The Rolling Stone music review referenced in the N magazine article

--Stepping, by Nancy Thayer

--Let it Snow, by Nancy Thayer

--Nantucket Noel, the 2021 Hallmark Channel Christmas Movie based on Let It Snow by Nancy Thayer

--Three Women at the Water’s Edge, by Nancy Thayer

--Family Reunion, by Nancy Thayer

--I’ll Take What She Has, by Samantha Wilde

--The Business of Being a Writer, by Jane Friedman

--This podcast about leaving academia

--You can find the shark tracker referenced in this podcast here

--The Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket

You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island and neither are we. We reach across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring on an expert about something? DM us on Twitter: The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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