Liz Johnson is the author of more than a dozen novels, including A Sparkle of Silver, A Glitter of Gold, The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and On Love’s Gentle Shore, as well as a New York Times bestselling novella and a handful of short stories. Liz returns to the Canadian coast in her latest novel, Beyond the Tides, book 1 in the Prince Edward Island Shores Series. Travel back to Prince Edward Island for this heartwarming new series about family, forgiveness, and the kind of love that heals all wounds.
In this interview, Liz shares some of her thoughts about the new book and series.
FF: In 2016, you wrote The Red Door Inn, which was the first book in the Prince Edward Island Dreams Series. Why did you decide to return to Prince Edward Island in your new series?
I fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac in Charlottetown. The aptly coined “Gentle Island” captured my heart and inspired my imagination, and I’ve always known I had more PEI stories to tell. The sound of the waves clapping against the red-clay shores and the warmth of the summer sun are a healing balm, and it’s the place where I find unexpected peace. When I dreamed of returning to PEI, I immediately imagined three brothers in need of healing and restoration, and I’m so excited to take readers back to my favorite place on earth.
FF: How is the Prince Edward Island Shores Series different from the Prince Edward Island Dreams Series?
Readers of the Prince Edward Island Dreams Series will know that the Red Door Inn is in North Rustico and features outsiders finding healing on PEI’s north shore. The Prince Edward Island Shores Series is set in Victoria by the Sea, a quaint village on the south shore known for its artisans, theater, and lobster fishing. Victoria is home to the three Ross brothers—lifelong islanders still reeling from their father’s decision to abandon their family ten years before. But like in the Prince Edward Island Dreams Series, love plays a big role as they seek healing—even if it’s found in unexpected places.
FF: You have developed a real love for Prince Edward Island. When did you first visit the island, and when did you decide to use this location as the setting for several of your books?
I had no plans to write a book set on PEI when I first visited over Labor Day weekend in 2010. Like most little girls, I grew up loving Anne of Green Gables. Exploring the birthplace of its author, L. M. Montgomery, was enough of a draw for me, but after that initial visit, I immediately imagined a story. The people, the beauty, the music, and the serenity all inspired me. But it wasn’t until my second trip in 2011 that I discovered North Rustico, the setting of the Prince Edward Island Dreams Series, and imagined a big blue inn on the boardwalk at the harbor. I’ve been to the island four times and had planned to go back in 2020. A global pandemic put a kink in my plans, but I can’t wait to use my plane ticket soon!
FF: Please provide a brief description of Beyond the Tides.
Meg Whitaker and Oliver Ross haven’t spoken in ten years—not since he ruined her chances at a prestigious science scholarship and an Ivy League education. But when her dad announces he’s going to sell his lobster-fishing business to Oliver, Meg doesn’t have any choice but to speak up and tell him she wants the business instead.
Meg’s dad asks her and Oliver to work the business together for the season before he makes his decision. As they each try to prove their worthiness, Meg and Oliver begin to recognize they aren’t who they were ten years before, and their dreams may not be what they thought. There’s more than a fleet on the line when hearts get involved.
FF: Beyond the Tides is centered on a lobster-fishing business. What type of research was required to accurately portray this profession?
On my last three trips to PEI, I went out on Captain Mark’s lobster-fishing tour and soaked up all the information he shared about getting a lobster license, lobster life cycles, and the business in general. I remember the purr of the engine and the fear of getting pinched by the live lobster in my hand. Lobster fishing is such an important part of the island’s economy, and I picked up tidbits about it nearly everywhere I went. The last time I was on the island, a shopkeeper told me that they’d had twenty-five feet—FEET—of snow the winter before. It had piled up so high that they didn’t know what to do with it. I asked why they didn’t just push it into the ocean, and he quickly responded that the contaminated snow might endanger the lobster season. Lobsters are an incredibly important part of the lives of nearly everyone on the island.
In addition to in-person research, I also had to look up intricate parts of the industry like the names of the tools the fishermen use, the fishing seasons in each area, and how many traps my characters would be allowed to set. The details all started to flow together, so I had to keep my sources marked and keep going back to them time and again.
FF: You feature several strong personalities in your book. Do you have a favorite character?
I adored writing all of the characters. They surprised me several times throughout the story, but I was most surprised and delighted by the interaction between Oliver and his mom’s business partner, Violet. I didn’t know Violet very well when I started writing this book, but she swept in like a flood, teasing Oliver and giving him all her big-sister advice. I loved her immediately.
FF: What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book?
With every book, I hope readers will be reminded that God loves them and is with them. But this story is also very dear to me, as I wrote it while my dad suffered a health crisis and I was forced to face the frailty of life. A mentor of mine once told me I’d never regret investing in my relationship with my mom, and she was right. I think that truth covers dads too. And I hope readers will close this book and call their parents to say, “I love you.”
FF: What are you working on next?
I’m working on book 2 in the Prince Edward Island Shores Series, which I affectionately call “my prodigal son story” until it gets a title. It’s the story of Eli Ross, an NHL star and the pride of Victoria, who hasn’t been home since his dad left town. But when he returns amid scandal and secrets, he discovers it may take more than an apology to regain his place in the family—and win over his mom’s pretty business partner.
When Meg Whitaker’s father decides to sell the family’s lobster fishing business to her high school nemesis, she sets out to prove she should take it over instead. Though she’s never had any interest in running the small fleet–or even getting on a boat due to her persistent seasickness–she can’t stand to see Oliver Ross in charge. Not when he ruined her dreams for a science scholarship and an Ivy League education ten years ago.
Oliver isn’t proud of what he did back then. Angry and broken by his father walking out on his family, he lashed out at Meg–an innocent bystander. But owning a respected fishing fleet on Prince Edward Island is the opportunity of a lifetime, as well as a way to provide for his mother, and he’s not about to walk away just because Meg wants him to.
Meg’s father has the perfect solution: Oliver and Meg will work the business together, and at the end of the season, he’ll decide who gets it. Along the way, they may discover that their stories are more similar than they thought . . . and their dreams aren’t what they expected.
Beyond the Tides
Prince Edward Island Shores Series #1
Genres: Romance, Contemporary
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Buy Beyond the Tides from the FF Store HERE!
Buy Beyond the Tides from Amazon HERE!