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Author Nora Roberts helps Boonsboro get romantic

town center of new trilogy

November 06, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • Romance author Nora Roberts is shown here in 2009 in the Nick & Nora room at Inn BoonsBoro in downtown Boonsboro, which she and her family own. Roberts' new series takes place at the real location, but she said she has changed the characters.
Herald-Mail file photo

BOONSBORO — Wealth, glamour and princely titles aren't prerequisites for a story line in one of Nora Roberts' books.

Instead, her characters tend to be everyday people, working at ordinary jobs and enjoying a cold beer at the end of the day.

And sometimes, as in her latest novel, they enjoy that beer with a meal at Vesta Pizzeria and Family Restaurant.

They chat with neighbors at Crawfords Confectionary, enjoy a banana split at The Creamery and browse for the latest bestsellers at Turn the Page Bookstore.

Local fans of Roberts won't have to stretch their imaginations too far while reading "The Next Always" — book one in a new trilogy.

The setting is Boonsboro and the buildings, businesses, streets — even the parking lots — are real.

"I only changed the people," Roberts said.

A resident of the Boonsboro area for about 40 years, Roberts has written other stories that have delivered shout-outs to Keedysville, Sharpsburg and Washington County, in general.

"But this is the first one that has taken place in the town of Boonsboro," she said. "Needless to say, the research was easy."

The book, which went on sale Nov. 1, centers around the renovation of an historic, dilapidated hotel in Boonsboro — something Roberts knows quite a bit about.

She and her husband, Bruce Wilder, restored an old inn several years ago and turned it into an elegant bed and breakfast known as Inn BoonsBoro.

Roberts said she fell in love with the building the first time she saw it many decades ago.

"Over the years, it was painful to see it falling apart," she said. "The porches were sagging, all the windows were broken and weeds were growing out of the foundation."

"When we were able to acquire it, I was just thrilled," she said.

Roberts said she had a vision for the building and knew it had to be a bed and breakfast.

"It was a long process and a lot of work," she admitted. "But, to me, it was fascinating."

She didn't, however, plan on writing a book about it until her editor made the suggestion.

"We go to New York every fall — sneak away to do some shopping," she said. "And I also visit with my editor and agent. It was my editor who brought up the idea, wanting to know what I thought of writing a trilogy using Inn BoonsBoro — an actual business."

Roberts said she was interested and liked the concept.

"But you have to have more than a concept. You also have to have a story that works," she said. "The more we talked about it, I decided I could do that."

"The Next Always" features the Montgomery family, a mother and three sons, who undertake the transformation of an old building into an upscale bed and breakfast.

Beckett Montgomery, one-third of the trio of brothers, falls in love with the owner of Turn the Page Bookstore (TTP), Clare Brewster, a widow with three sons.

In the real world, TTP is owned by Roberts' husband, Wilder, "so you see," she said, "the businesses actually exist, but not the people. I didn't pattern any of the characters after anyone who really exists."

She is not the matriarch in the book, she said, and the Montgomery boys are not patterned after her own sons.

"That would just be too weird," she noted.

What she didn't change, she said, "was the close-knit feel of the town. I tried to articulate that — the community feel, the way people look out for each other."

As is true of most of her books, there also is suspense, including a stalker — who happens to be a car dealer from Hagerstown — and a ghost who resides in the inn.

The ghost, Roberts said, is not a piece of fiction.

"The inn actually is haunted," she said. "No one has had any encounters, certainly nothing like the book. But, on occasion, I've become aware of another presence. And our innkeeper has said she has heard footsteps and doors opening when she's been the only person in the building."

Roberts said the second book in the trilogy will be "The Last Boyfriend," which will focus on another Montgomery brother, Owen, and his relationship with Avery McTavish, a local restaurant owner. It is expected to be released next year. The final book will be about Ryder Montgomery and innkeeper Hope Beaumont.

"It was fun," Roberts said of bringing Boonsboro to the pages of her newest trilogy.

And she hopes readers who are unfamiliar with the town will see Boonsboro as she does — "interesting, vibrant and charming" but minus the drama.

"I had to add the drama for the sake of the story,"  she said with a laugh.

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