Archive for January, 2012

Fog Island Light

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

One of the joys of inventing stories is transforming real places, people, and things into the world you’re making up. Inventing Fog Island was one of my favorite parts of writing Into the Trap because I dreamed it up by combining elements of places I love. That’s why storytelling is something like alchemy: You concoct new things out of what already exists.

One of those places is Sandy Neck on Cape Cod. Separating Great Marsh and Barnstable Harbor from Cape Cod Bay, Sandy Neck is a peninsula about five miles or so long and a mile wide in some spots. You can always hear the sea, and when you climb one of its high dunes you can see the sweep of the bay to the north and the more protected waters of the harbor to the south. The marsh stretches away so wide and far it looks infinite beneath the open sky.

Years ago I used to spend a lot of time roaming the marsh and hiking on the beaches and dunes, and to this day my wife and I go there to walk, especially in the winter. Sometimes we walk on a beach facing Sandy Neck so that we can see the lighthouse and cottages at the end of the point where it meets the harbor entrance.

When we went there recently, the wind was howling, rain spat down, and the moon tide was flooding the beach, but the visibility was sharp. I could look across the whitecaps of the water—the water itself was a serpentine green—to see the lighthouse I had transplanted from Sandy Neck to Fog Island.

So even though Fog Island light only appears in Into the Trap, in a sense it’s real, even though it’s imaginary. Just go to the end of Millway Road to the town landing on Barnstable Harbor and look across the water. You could also hike or take a four-wheel drive vehicle the length of Sandy Neck. There’s the lighthouse with cottages straggling behind it like ducklings, just as I imagined it for the book, except that in the book it stands alone at the end of the barrier beach.