Sunday, July 23, 2017

Welcome, Author Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast!

            This week I am so excited and happy to welcome author Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast to "Gina's   World of Good". Debbie is a fellow member of the Association of Rhode Island Authors     (ARIA). Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast began writing as she embarked on a quest to reconnect with her island roots. She has also authored a cookbook for her family, A Gift of Cookies, A Gift of Love. Debbie, a retired teacher and nutrition educator, now devotes her time to volunteering as well as writing, gardening, cooking, biking and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Debbie will award a copy of her memoir The Ferry Home to a lucky visitor this week - leave a comment (with your email address) to be eligible to win.

Welcome to my blog, Debbie. What is your newest book about?
The Ferry Home is a memoir about growing up in the 1950s on a small island in Narragansett Bay. We lived there year round, my dad ran a store in the summer and my mother was the teacher in the one room school. It is a step back in time to a simpler life, the story of island living, its rhythm, simplicity and the sense of community it fosters. I lived there until I was nine, when a hurricane changed out lives forever, and we moved off the island.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Prudence Island ultimately provided the inspiration to write about my life there. Ten years ago, after my mother died, I returned to Prudence for a visit in her honor. Childhood memories began to trickle through my mind, and I realized how much I missed the island. It seemed to be calling me back, urging me to remember, and I felt compelled to return again and again. As more memories surfaced, I knew I wanted to preserve them for future generations.

What kind of research did you do for this book? I did research to confirm a few factual dates and times, but most of my research was exploring my own memory. Prudence Island lives and breathes through the book and returning to the island allowed me to recapture my childhood there.

Did you put real experiences from your research in this story?
I never knew what current experience would trigger my memory, it might be a smell, a sound, the change in seasons or a walk on Prudence Island. Each chapter begins and ends with the experience that momentarily sent me wandering back in time. For example, I found an autograph album that belonged to my mother, and one particular entry reminded me of my mom and her relationship with my dad. The discovery inspired me to write the chapter called, Sol and Mrs. Kaiman.

How did you decide what stories to include in the book?

I wrote the stories that wanted to be told, they demanded their turn like children waiting for a swing. Sometimes there were several vying for my attention at once and I wrote about each one until it was satisfied.

What intrigued you most about writing these stories?

I didnt plan what I would write, but the memories that unfolded as I wrote were so vivid the stories told themselves. Once I started writing the events played in my head like a movie, and the details of things I didnt know I remembered were provided.

Which of your memories is your favorite?

It is difficult to choose since each one was my favorite as I wrote about it. I love Sleds and Sundays.
The island was more isolated in the winter, and our family spent more time together. My dads store was closed so he worked shorter hours and my sister and I had fewer friends nearby. My winter memories are cozier and more intimate than summer ones.
Sometimes my mother attached the sled ropes to the rear bumper of the car and drove to school while my sister and I rode on our sleds. I watched the snow covered road slide under the runners as I clung tightly to the sled and felt the icy spray sting my face. Where else could you experience this marvelous winter adventure, except on Prudence Island?

How did you get started writing? Thoughts of writing a book about Prudence Island often flitted through my mind; there were so many memories I wanted to save. A few years ago I saw a notice highlighting a memoir writing class held at a local library. It peaked my curiosity, and I decided to attend. I started with thoughts of why I wanted to write about Prudence, and every month I returned with a new Prudence Island story. The leader of the class encouraged me to keep writing until I completed a book. It was serendipity. The desire, opportunity and encouragement to write all occurred simultaneously.

What else have you written? Are you working on another book?

A surprising benefit to writing my memoir was the discovery that I not only enjoy writing, but I also find it deeply satisfying. I continue to write poetry and essays on a variety of topics. My poem, Island Summer Housewas published in the 2016 Rhode Island Authors Anthology, Shoreline, and I have also been published in Country Extra magazine. I am currently working on a romance novel.

When you have time to read, who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite book, one that I have read many times, is A Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I am also fond of Jan Karon and Rosamunde Pilcher. I find their characters engaging and their stories so real you feel like you have opened a door and walked into their lives.

Lets get personal for a moment: Please share with us the most daring thing youve ever done.
Last September I hiked the Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park. The trail climbs 1500 ft in 2.7 miles, as it corkscrews across the face of the mountain and descends back along the same steep route.
It was a challenging and thrilling adventure, but not as daring as deciding to write a novel.

Favorite meal? City you would love to visit and why?

I love homemade ice cream, lobster and dark chocolate. Im happy with any meal that includes one or more of them.

I would like to return to Sedona, Arizona. I have been there once and was captivated by the scenery and the magical color of the sunsets. There were also many incredible places to hike and explore.
To learn more about this author, visit her Facebook page at __

Thank you so much for visiting Ginas World of Good”, Debbie. Your book is absolutely fascinating. I wish you many sales!!

Be sure to leave a comment (with your email address) to be eligible to win a copy of Debbie's book!

Visit "Gina's World of Good" next week when our guest will be author Linda Weaver Clarke!!


  1. Hi Debbie, thank you so much for visiting this week.

    Your story is amazing - I imagine many would love to have the experience you had of living on an island until the age of nine.

    Could you share with us -- what would be the most important lesson you learned from that experience?

    1. When you live on a small island much of your time is spent alone. As a result, I learned to enjoy my own company. I can be content by myself, although I certainly enjoy being with other people too.

    2. Wow, what an insightful comment.

      Could you please share with us how this helped you as a writer, and what advice you would share with other writers based on this incredible experience?

      Thank you!!!

    3. Hi Gina,
      First, thank you for inviting me to your Summer Blog Tour, it is a pleasure to meet your readers.
      Writing is a solitary experience. I learned to be at peace with time alone, and I don’t mind being by myself to write. Living on the island I developed a connection to nature, so I often write in my mind as I walk outside. I’m sure every writer has a comfort zone for writing, in a coffee shop surrounded by other people or alone in a quiet room. It is just a matter of knowing what place frees your mind to write.

  2. Wow what an interview.. very nice of Debbie to visit Regina's blog... Prudence Island I guess is sort of an iconic place... cheers....

  3. Your book sounds so good Debbie! I also grew up in the 50's and remember all the fun we had in Florida. Your island must have been such a wonderful experience! Regina did such a good job with your blog! Thanks for sharing.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thank you Ann, I always enjoy sharing stories about Prudence Island.
      I'm sure we have many of the same memories of a 50's childhood.

    3. Hi, Ann and it is so nice to hear from you :-) I was not aware of your background, but it sounds fascinating and fun. Looking forward to your visit here in August. Thank you for your kind words and for commenting.

  4. Hi Debbie: What a fascinating place to live and visit. Your comment about the photo regarding your mother brought tears to my eyes as I have so many black and white photos of Mom and family. I've been to Narragansett Bay years ago and it was a shore and water view I'll never forget. Loved the sledding too. Regina, you have such good questions and thanks for having Debbie.

    1. Hi Larry, and thank you so much for taking the time to visit today!

      It is a joy to introduce Debbie to you and what a thrill that you have visited Narragansett Bay - so you know what it's all about :-)

      There's nothing like family, right, Larry? And Debbie brought that to all of us in her post.

      Thanks again for commenting and for your interest

    2. Hi Larry,
      Thank you for your sharing your kind thoughts. Old photos can often open the door to wonderful memories. Perhaps someday you will visit Narragansett Bay again, and this time take the ferry to Prudence Island. It is a beautiful place. Thanks again for your comment.

  5. Two fabulous women! My college and theatre pal Gina, my newer friend Debbie - what a great combination! 💖💖💖

    1. Oh Martha! Thank you so much for commenting. It is so great to be in touch - YOU are one fabulous woman, and a really great friend :-)


    2. Thank you Martha, I will echo Regina’s comment, YOU are one fabulous woman, and I am grateful for your friendship!

  6. Hi Debbie: I have lived on Prudence Island since I was born in 1952 having been here year-round since 1985. My late husband worked for your father delivering ice on the Island. I can relate to so many of your memories. Many changes yet so much is still the same! A very special place indeed.

    1. Wow Betsey! It is so great to hear from you. No doubt you have much in your memory bank about how special place Prudence Island really is.

      Have you written anything about it?

      Thank you for visiting and for commenting on this blog. Look forward to hearing from you again sometime.

    2. Hi Betsey,
      How lucky you are to live on Prudence Island. I always find it hard to leave when I have to take the departing ferry. I recognize the changes on the island, but my heart still sees it as it once was. I remember the Porter’s from my childhood, and I hope I will meet you on Prudence when I visit again. Thank you for visiting this blog and for your comments.

    3. Debbie, I would love to meet you when you return to the Island; contact me anytime on Facebook and we can plan to meet.

    4. Hi Betsey, I'll look forward to seeing you on my next visit to Prudence.
      Thanks again for your comments.

    5. How great is this!!?! :-D

  7. Thank you so much for visiting this week, Debbie. Please come back again soon!

    1. Hi Gina,
      Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. It was a pleasure to share a bit of Prudence island and to meet and visit with your readers. I look forward to returning one day. :)

  8. Readers, Debbie has drawn the luck winner of her book: Larry Hammersley. Congratulations, Larry!

    Thanks for visiting, Debbie, come back again soon!