Author Blends Jersey Shore Area History With Drama

Author Laura Quinn prepares for a book signing at a Barnes & Noble store for her new book, “Thicker Than Water.” (Photo courtesy Laura Quinn)

  JERSEY SHORE – After two years of research, New Jersey author Laura Quinn recently released her debut novel, “Thicker Than Water.”

  The Williamstown resident noted that the research was done “before I ever put pen-to-paper to ensure the utmost historical accuracy. The novel is the first in a trilogy and is, essentially, my love letter to our area.”

  “While the majority of the book is set at the southernmost shore points, it also features some ‘real life’ events that occurred to the north; all intricately woven into the narrative. These include, in part, the 1916 shark attacks and the bombing at Black Tom Island,” Quinn said.

  “Further (and without spoilers), a major plot point centers around the cruise of German submarine U-161, and events of ‘Black Sunday,’ in 1918,” the author added. “Perhaps most relevant is the intimate look at Camp Dix as it was during the Great War. Readers get from the standpoint of one of the doughboys stationed there.”

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  Quinn said several chapters of her book are set in Philadelphia.  She noted that The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a half-page question and answer section in their Arts and Culture section and also ran a companion piece in their Down the Shore newsletter.

  As to the content of the book, it is set in 1916 Cape May. Siblings Danny and Shannon Culligan are trapped under the thumb of their alcoholic father. Danny’s been in love with his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Martin – a wealthy cottager from Philadelphia – for as long as he can remember while her cousin, Hugh, is smitten with his sister.

  “As the foursome struggles to surmount the class differences between them, the nation is plunged into World War I, changing all of their lives forever. Danny is drafted into the Army and Hugh enlists in the Navy – defending the home front as a lieutenant at Cape May Section Base Number 9,” Quinn said.

  She added that “while Jennie works tirelessly on the Liberty Loans campaign in Philadelphia, Shannon finds herself ensnared in a rum ring operation as the temperance movement ebbs closer to its goal of Prohibition.”

The cover of Laura Quinn’s debut book, “Thicker Than Water” is seen on display. (Photo courtesy Laura Quinn)

  The author said her book “challenges readers in its exploration of the age-old question about where one’s loyalties lie and just how far would you go to protect your family?”

  She noted a crucial scene that occurs in the midst of a nor’easter storm coming ashore. The event goes on to impact all four main characters in different ways, some of which are explored in this book. Other impacts will be explored in the two sequels planned.

  “With regard to historical events in narrative, I tried to stay as close to source material as possible throughout,” Quinn said.  “Making sure the details were accurate was a matter of utmost importance to me from the beginning.”

  As to how she came to write the book, Quinn said, “I have two kids and my oldest is a really bad sleeper so when I was up with him at night, it was something I started telling myself so that I wouldn’t fall asleep rocking him.”

  Quinn explained, “It just grew from there. I have a lot of happy childhood memories growing up at the Jersey Shore. I wrote it as a short story and shared it with some folks and it originally was supposed to be a stand alone novel but during my developmental edit, the editor said you have a lot to work with, you might want to consider breaking it up as a series and it was with her recommendation that I decided to split it up.”

  The writer has a background in criminal justice “so I’ve always been drawn to organized crime, it is the Sopranos state and after graduation I actually worked in life insurance investigating insurance fraud and later, I worked my way up to a litigation team and a lot of defense work and when I had my kids I had the opportunity to stay at home with them but I did a lot of business writing for 12 years.”

  She added, “writing about a pandemic while living through one was particularly difficult. My research and outline for TTW was completed prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns.”

  “There were times in the last two years where I strongly considered changing these chapters or eliminating them completely from a reader-sensitivity standpoint. My only hope is that I did justice to those lives impacted in both outbreaks,” Quinn said.

  Quinn is working with a few book stores in Monmouth County where she is hoping to do book signings this fall. She also has some library visits scheduled in the south Jersey area. “I love our state and I’d be happy to talk to readers everywhere.”