Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle

Image courtesy NPS

Short Idylls by Tina Whittle

One of my favorite things to write is short stories and their slightly longer cousins, novelettes and novellas. Writing a book is an all-consuming endeavor, and when life has piled a lot on my plate, I enjoy a writing project that I can dip a toe in whenever I have a few moments.

My latest short story “Creature Comforts” is technically a novelette, which is defined as a work of fiction between 10,000 and 20,000 words. It’s also the epilogue to Necessary Ends, the sixth in my Tai Randolph/Trey Seaver series. Epilogues serve as a final chapter at the end of a story to tie up loose ends, reveal the final fate of a character, or hint at what’s coming up next. In the case of “Creature Comforts,” it does two of those things, but its main plot involves the resolution of a bet my characters made in the novel.

I decided to set “Creature Comforts” on Cumberland Island, Georgia, a place where wilderness and civilization commingle as organically as land and sea do. Rich with history both profitable and painful, Cumberland is one of the Sea Islands, a stretch of barrier islands that stretched along Georgia’s Atlantic coast. Salt marsh, maritime forest, and wide stretches of tidal beach make up its landscape, which teems with deer, squirrels, raccoons, armadillos, wild boars, alligators, and its famous feral horses. It’s also home to the fantastically luxurious, all-inclusive Greyfield Inn, a former Carnegie mansion now open to overnight guests. The action of “Creature Comforts” takes place on both fronts, the utterly indulgent, man-made charm of the inn and the wild, rough-and-tumble beauty of the parkland.

As usual, my characters’ fictional world overlaps with the non-fictional world, but isn’t identical. I changed the layout of the Greyfield somewhat to keep the action in one spot, and moved my character Tai’s favorite campsite closer to the property. Also, the inn’s guests have an easier time accessing the Internet than they would in real life. But otherwise I kept pretty true to the location.

I had a great time including some unusual real-life aspects in my story:  unexpected submarines, a fix-it-yourself drink bar, the larger-than-life figure of Carnegie heiress Lucy Ferguson, and the bone-and-shell jewelry that her granddaughter Gogo makes. If you’d like to learn more about this treasure of the National Park Service, you can visit the Cumberland Island National Park Service page. And if a visit to the Greyfield Inn isn’t on your agenda, you can always bake their Chocolate Coffee Pecan Pie at home.

Which I highly recommend you do. 

(PS: Anyone who has read NECESSARY ENDS can now claim their FREE copy of “Creature Comforts” if they can answer one multiple choice question: What animals barges into Tai’s bedroom in Chapter 44? Enter your answer HERE, and if it’s correct, you’ll get download instructions.)