Meg Tilly thrives as romantic suspense novelist
Meg Tilly has met her share of celebrities in her line of work. She is best known for her roles in the movies “Agnes of God,” a role for which she received an Oscar nomination for and “The Big Chill.”
And yet, the actress-turned-novelist had a bucket list of people she would like to meet — Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz and Leonard Cohen.
Having met Krentz and Cohen, Nora Roberts remains the last person on her list.
So when Roberts’ husband Bruce Wilder called Tilly and invited her to participate in a book signing at Turn the Page Bookstore, which he owns, Tilly couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
“I’ve acted with a lot of people, but these people affected the quality of my life,” Tilly said by phone from her home.
The books of Roberts and Krentz feature strong female characters, which is important to Tilly in her own writing. And neither wrote about sexual assault as though it was love.
“You felt in safe hands with both,” Tilly said.
Tilly’s journey to meet Nora Roberts will include a ferry ride from her home on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada, a flight from Seattle to Dulles Airport, and a car ride from the airport to Boonsboro.
Tilly’s book “Hidden Cove” was released Oct. 1, the third book in her Solace Island series by Tilly. The romantic suspense writer will be at the book signing as an author, but also as a huge fan of Roberts.
“I read her for decades. She just was one of my gateway authors,” Tilly said, noting that she reads everything Roberts writes “religiously.”
Tilly said wherever she’s seated at the Saturday, Oct. 26 book signing, she’ll be glancing over at Roberts in admiration.
“I’ll try to be cool about it,” Tilly said.
Tilly, 59, has been writing for about 30 years. She was pregnant with her third child and started writing as a release from her past.
Her first manuscripts were “very intense” fictional biographies, with names of family members and places changed, but readers close to her could identify who the characters were.
At book readings, readers shared their own troubling stories and Tilly said she went home with those stories weighing on her mind.
Then, someone asked if she wanted to write young adult books, so she tried her hand at a couple of those. Tilly ended up writing romantic suspense “for fun, because it’s what I like.”
“I’d take a break from bad news. It was my nice escape . . . something cozy,” Tilly said.
Romantic suspense turned out to the genre that suited her and one she likes to share with readers.
“It’s so much fun. It just makes me happy. There are lots of hugs, mostly joyful and people who are wanting to have some optimism and believe in love in their life,” Tilly said.
Aside from a few acting jobs, Tilly stopped acting in her 30s to raise her children and began writing exclusively. Her Solace Island series is based in the Pacific Northwest, loosely set on her Salt Island neighborhood.
Tilly uses some of the actual business names, as Roberts did in the Boonsboro trilogy she wrote, and makes up names in other instances. “Hidden Cove” is about a Solace Island art gallery owner, Zelia Thompson, whose friend dies of a supposed drug overdose.
The circumstances of the death of the friend, who owns a prestigious art gallery, raises suspicions for Zelia. She tries to find out the truth with the help of a reclusive crime fiction novelist, according to a book summary by Tilly’s publisher, Penguin Random House.
“Meg Tilly never fails to deliver a perfect escape,” New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis wrote for the cover of “Hidden Cove.”
Roberts and Tilly will have company at the Oct. 26 book signing. Other authors are Katherine Center, Susan Mallery, Lee Tobin McClain, Carrie Ann Ryan, Sherry Thomas and local authors John Bede and A.B. Gibson.
The staff and some of the authors will be wearing Halloween costumes and those coming to the book signing are invited to come in costume, too.
In the meantime, Tilly is rewriting an original screenplay of hers that was purchased by a studio. Writing daily is essential to the end goal and Tilly’s work is fueled by Roberts.
“She’s a real inspiration. Actually, when I get stuck, then I remember there was an interview once where she (Roberts) said ‘You can fix a bad page, but you can’t do anything with a blank page’,” Tilly said.
Top photo of Meg Tilly by Victoria Will.