N.D. Galland is a modest gal with a gift for writing that defies boundaries.
Her unassuming affect opened the door to an in-depth phone conversation about her life so far and her latest novel, “On the Same Page.” With an unexpected sense of humor the book adroitly frames the story of social disparities on Martha’s Vineyard that parallel problems of the mainland.
The 53-year-old native of Martha’s Vineyard is the product of a West Tisbury working-class family and a fluid educational paradigm known as “open classrooms.” Popularized in the 1960’s, communal classrooms encourage students to appreciate the sovereignty of learning with an under-current of “a rising tide floats all boats” philosophy. A new-age feel is attached to the non-judgmental ideal of such wall-less educational enclaves, however, the framework of this “kinder-vineyard” is a derivative of colonial times when one-room classrooms were the structural norm of society.
Although Ms. Galland estimates of the 100 kids in her Martha’s Vineyard class only 20% were motivated to go to college, the open academic atmosphere served her autodidactic or self-starter’s learning-style well. She continued her studies at Harvard then enrolled as a Ph.D. candidate in a drama/ literature/director’s scholar program at the University of California at Berkeley. Talent and hard-work contributed to winning a screen-writing competition which expanded the Islander’s life of concentric circles connecting intellectual curiosities with creativity and literary-glitterati, such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks.
Producing novel ideas worth thinking about, Galland’s screen-writing finesse allows her to twist salient microcosmic cultural references into the macrocosmic ropes of today’s national headlines. Her imaginative productions are the spawn of 15-18 hour workdays over a year or two. Inevitably the characters that develop weigh complex issues of humanity while leaning into salt-air composites of souls she has met along her national and international travels.
The quality of her writing is timeless and timely. The author of a collection of historical novels, rom-com’s and a New York Times best selling, time-bending thriller (co-written with Neal Stephenson), balances her sense of isolation while working with the knowledge she’s not really alone when writing in a cocoon not far from loved ones. When asked if she misses the helix of people and places she’s infused with her own DNA after she’s finished their tale, Nicole Galland’s answer echoed with the voice of experience. She loves them, but her heart like that of any mother’s knows no boundaries, it can always expand to love more.
We ended the conversation as we began with a quick review of the micro/macro-clash of small town and big city ideals that awkwardly co-exist on Martha’s Vineyard. Galland said ultimately this book underscores the point “we need to come together and listen to each other when discussing any complicated issue.” With that, the first and last thoughts of the gifted author that defies boundaries adroitly opened the door to problem-solving together when we meet “On the Same Page.”
UNDER THE COVER:
On the Same Page is an easy page-turner, perfect for anyone craving a splash of Martha’s Vineyard reality in the winter.
Rom-com banter flirts, without conclusion, with the politics of who really owns properties taken from indigenous peoples, then worked by generations of tradesman, now marginalized by off-island summer residents seeking “authentic island-charm” investment vacation homes.
It goes beyond the nexus of struggling homesteaders and walled off compounds into some signature eccentricities of true New Englanders. The developed characters are visually recognizable and emotionally relatable in their strengths and weaknesses.
Written by a Martha’s Vineyard resident, N.D. Gallard’s novel is cute and smart. If you’re on a post-holiday Hallmark channel cleanse On the Same Page is a literal chick-flick with 304 pages of “authentic island charm.”
She’s worth reading! You can pick up a copy right here.
Diane Kilgore is a journalist in the Greater Boston Area. She is a Cultural Contributor for NewBostonPost and creator of the lifestyle blog ‘To Di For.’