Author Jennifer Nightingale grew up in Seattle, Washington, has explored beaches and bays from British Columbia all the way to Northern California, and has been living in Astoria, Oregon, at the mouth of the Columbia River for seven years now. She has worked in various administrative capacities in the healthcare industry for over thirty years and currently manages projects for hospitals, clinics, and health plans throughout the Pacific Northwest. Jennifer was a storyteller even before she could write, stapling pages together, dictating her first story to her father as her scribe, and providing the illustrations with a purple crayon. It was called “Pamela and Barry,” and this tiny book lived on in her mother’s jewelry box. Over the years, she wrote and published articles, essays and poems. Jennifer published her debut novel, “Alberta & the Spark,” in 2019. Her poems and short stories have been chosen by blind judging for Rain Magazine, Cannon Beach Writers Read, and the Hoffman Center Squid. Jennifer is a member of Ric’s Poetry Open Mic in Astoria, the League of Intertidal Writers, and of Astoria Writers’ Guild. When Jennifer isn’t writing, she, her husband, Holt Moore, and her dog pick up trash on a stretch beach along the Columbia River they adopted. Over the years, they have picked up tons of trash; plastic water bottles, river rope, bait boxes, cigarette lighters, and barnacle infested shoes.
Which genres do you cover?
Jennifer Nightingale: Pacific Northwest fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and short stories.
Which is the latest book you had published, and what is about?
Jennifer Nightingale: “Alberta & the Spark.” It is a coming-of-age tale set in a Pacific Northwest oyster town in the 1970s. 13-year-old Alberta Evans, whose love of nature is as boundless as her belief in the goodness of all people, struggles with adolescence and finds courage through her unique friendship with 15-year-old Felix, who she calls “the Spark”. He is a kindred spirit who approaches the natural world as a scientist while Alberta reveres it with magical wonder. Together they confront bullies, racism and disorienting family changes. They persevere and help bring their fractured coastal community together. “Alberta & The Spark is the best Pacific Northwest coming-of-age novel since Jim Lynch’s ‘The Highest Tide,’” Matt Love says, the author/editor of 21 books about Oregon and 2009 Winner of the Oregon Stewart H. Holbrook Literacy Legacy Award for his contributions to Oregon Literature. The painting on the cover of “Alberta & the Spark” was provided by McMinnville artist, John Stromme.
At which book events can readers find you?
Jennifer Nightingale: The next book event that I will be at is the PNW Authors’ Book Fair in Seaview, WA, on Saturday, October 7 from 10 a.m. thru 3 p.m. and for the launch of the latest North Coast Squid Journal of Writing and Art at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita, OR, on November 4 at 7 p.m.
Which book event connecting you with readers is your favorite and why?
Jennifer Nightingale: My experience with in-person book events was limited due to the Pandemic. An extensive calendar of events was canceled shortly after the book was launched. Prior to that, I was invited to meet with book clubs and assorted coastal book fairs. I did a reading in Longview Washington. Two weeks later, I was at a bookfair in Long Beach. After hearing my reading, a woman from the Longview event, drove along the winding Ocean Beach Highway all the way to Long Beach for a signed copy of my book. I was very moved and inspired by her effort. I was looking forward to touring the Pacific Northwest with Alberta but like so many people, I had to take a very long pause during the pandemic.
Do(es) your book(s) have any specific messages to your readers and, if so, which are they?
Jennifer Nightingale: Stay curious, persevere, give a damn, and be kind.
Which writer(s) keep(s) inspiring you and why?
Jennifer Nightingale: E.B. White, Rachel Carson, Matt Love, and Robert Michael Pyle. Their work is deeply rooted in the natural world and our relationship to it. They speak about the assault on nature, our critical interconnectedness to our watershed and all its flora and fauna.
Do you have specific writing habits?
Jennifer Nightingale: I start the day with a cup of something warm and read a passage from either E.B. White’s “One Man’s Meat” or Robert Michael Pyle’s “Tidewater Reach.” Then I type out that passage and when I am done, I feel like either E.B. White or R.M. Pyle are keeping me company.
What are you currently working on?
Jennifer Nightingale: “Dreaming in Color,” a collaboration of word and image with McMinnville-based Oregon artist, John Stromme.
Which book are you currently reading simply for entertainment?
Jennifer Nightingale: Any of Georges Simenon’s “Inspector Maigret” books. They are so intriguing and multi-sensual. I just got a copy of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and I’m ready to dive in.
What advice would you give any aspiring author?
Jennifer Nightingale: Write every day. Surround yourself with a supportive community of other writers and readers. Learn to listen to many different voices. Commit yourself to this community, get comfortable sharing your stories, and be prepared to accept gentle advice.
You can find Jennifer Nightingale’s books at select independent bookstores in Washington State and coastal Oregon and at Amazon.