An Unforgettable Summer | author’s note

Though each of the books in my series has meaning for me, the next installment, “The Night Ferry,” available for Kindle December 1, is especially dear to my heart.

I wrote most of it in about three weeks, it just poured out. And then I got stuck in the complicated plot maneuverings at the end, who was doing what and why, which I rewrote about seven times to get the narrative to make sense. Besides that small hiccup, the mystery was extremely fun to write, taking place in two of my favorite cities in Europe, Copenhagen and Helsinki, in the height of the long, light Northern European summer.

Nyhavn (New Harbor) in Copenhagen

I spent the summer of 1997 studying design in Copenhagen, an experience I’m incredibly grateful to have had for so many reasons. I lived in a dormitory on the island of Amager, right near Christianshavn and Christiania, while the school building was in central Copenhagen, just around the corner from the city hall, next to the Stroll. Every day after class and on weekends, we would walk the streets of the city, absorbing the different neighborhoods, eating pizza and falafel, shopping at tiny grocery stores, visiting landmarks, basking in the sun in a city park, taking the train to the beach or the medieval city of Roskilde for the weekend. It was magical.

Helsinki city center

My class at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) took a week-long study tour in early July, a bus tour through Sweden and Finland. We drove from Copenhagen to Stockholm, boarded the night ferry from Stockholm to Turku on the southwest coast of Finland, then drove up into the thickly forested country before heading back south to Helsinki, the capital, where we stayed in the Eurohostel. The three days I spent in that city were some of the most memorable of an already wonderful summer, as I explored on foot with my amazing friend Lisa. We went to tourist sites, shopped, ate at outdoor cafes, enjoyed a traditional Finnish sauna. Like Copenhagen, it was a very easy city to navigate, with lovely gardens, vast working harbors and friendly and interesting people.

The lake in Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Setting “The Night Ferry” in these cities brought me back to my time there—the warm summer days and long, cool summer nights, the elegant historic buildings, the canals, the museums, the restaurants. I managed to include most of my favorite places, foods and activities, from the Zoo and the Church of the Rock in Helsinki to the carousel at Tivoli Gardens and Karen Blixen’s home—not forgetting, of course, the night ferry itself.

Though nothing like what Megan experiences in the book happened to me (no mysterious strangers fell into my arms, no dangerous rendezvous, luxurious nine-course dinners or bad guys chasing me), the settings are most definitely a memoir of sorts of my days spent in those exceptional cities around the Baltic Sea. This book is my tribute to the entertainment, beauty and richness of culture to be found in both Copenhagen and Helsinki, and to an unforgettable summer spent there.

I haven’t returned to Scandinavia since I left in August, 1997. But I’m definitely going back someday, to revisit all the places I loved—and to have some new adventures!

– Emily

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