Cake or Pie? With Elin Hildebrand

Cake or Pie Elin Hildebrand
Graphic by Hanna Goldstien.

Famously dubbed the Queen of Beach Reads by New York Magazine, #1 New York Times best-selling author Elin Hildebrand may have transported more people to the beautiful beaches of Nantucket than Cape Air and the Hyannis ferry boats combined. With her June release, fittingly titled “Swan Song,” she is concluding a 24-year run of novels set on her beloved island. She is the co-host of the fabulous “Books, Beach & Beyond” podcast, a voracious reader, a consummate chef and a tremendous supporter of her fellow authors, myself gratefully included.


Jane Rosen (J.R.): After “Swan Song,” what’s next for Elin Hildebrand?

Elin Hildebrand (E.H.): I’m writing two novels based at a New England boarding school, starting with “The Academy,” which will come out in September 2025. For the first time ever, I’ll have a co-author, my daughter, Shelby Cunningham. Shelby graduated from St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., in May and is headed to UMiami.

J.R.: What has most surprised you regarding this new working relationship with your daughter, Shelby?

E.H: Gen Z has their own language. There’s no way I would be able to write a convincing boarding school book set in 2024-25 without Shelby.

J.R.: What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter of your life?

E.H: I’m looking forward to staying home. One of the ironies of my job is that, to promote my books around the country, I must spend time away from my truest love: Nantucket.

J.R.: I know it’s like asking if you have a favorite child, but do you have a favorite of your novels?

E.H: For years, the answer was “The Blue Bistro.” But I also really love “28 Summers,” which came out in 2020.

J.R.: Favorite meal to cook for your family?

E.H: The kids’ favorite is the sausage and basil pasta in mustard cream sauce. I also make a mean chicken cutlet.

J.R.: The most spectacular beach on which to devour a beach read?

E.H: Smith’s Point, Nantucket.

J.R.: What book made you fall in love with reading?

E.H: First it was “A Little Princess” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, followed by all of Judy Blume.

J.R.:   What are the next three titles on your TBR?

E.H: “Grief is for People,” by Sloane Crosley, “Sandwich” by Catherine Newman, and “Soldier Sailor,” by Claire Kilroy.

J.R.: Is there a book that you wish you’d written?

E.H: “Fifty Shades,” obviously.

J.R.: What’s your greatest extravagance?

E.H: My summer dresses and my Ted Muehling candlesticks.

J.R.: Favorite podcast?

E.H: “Books, Beach and Beyond!” As for one that I’m not invested in, definitely “Smartless.” I’m an addict.

J.R.: We share a passion for music, especially Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. What was your very first concert?

E.H: The better story is what wasn’t my first concert. In September 1984, I was 15, a sophomore, and I had just been invited on my first car date.  I was so excited — except I had agreed to babysit that night for a single dad, and he was going to see the Boss at the Philadelphia Spectrum. I was hoping he’d get home in time for me to still eke out some of the date before my curfew — and that was my introduction to what a Springsteen concert was like.  The dad returned at one in the morning, raving about how Bruce had played for three-plus hours, and then instead of driving me home, he made me listen to Born in the USA, specifically “No Surrender.” I missed the date but fell in love with Bruce. “No Surrender” is still in my top five Bruce songs.

J.R.:  What’s your favorite bookstore?

E.H: Nantucket Book Partners, of course.  Off-island, it’s my two Delaware beach stores: Bethany Beach Books and Browseabout Books.

J.R.:  Kindle or paper?

E.H: Paper, always.

J.R.:   Cake or Pie?

E.H: Pie — coconut cream or blueberry.

Jane L. Rosen is the author of Seven Summer Weekends., On Fire Island, A Shoe StoryEliza Starts a Rumor, and Nine Women, One Dress. She is also a screenwriter and contributor to publications including The New Times, Tablet, and now, her hometown paper, the Fire Island News. She and her husband have three grown daughters and a rescue pup named Rosalita. 

Graphics by Hanna Goldstien