Elizabeth Castellano debunks the myth that seaside towns are pure paradise in her debut novel, “Save What’s Left.”

The story takes place in a seaside town on Long Island, specifically New Suffolk County, where Ms. Castellano grew up.

On Tuesday, July 11th, the Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library will host a book event at 6:30pm to help introduce “Saving the Leftovers” to the town that inspired it.

After graduating with six classmates from the Little Red Schoolhouse in New Suffolk, Ms. Castellano attended Southold High School, where she focused on the arts and participated in clubs.

“My first show was Les Mis on Broadway when I was five,” she said. “I’ve always been passionate about telling stories of any kind. Books and plays, it’s the same thread.

“When I went to college, I realized that not everyone knew how to stretch a canvas or read music,” she said. Ms. Castellano majored in theater at Bates College in Maine, graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Her novels rely heavily on dialogue, and she believes her background in theater has greatly helped her write natural-sounding dialogue. “When you write a script, it has to sound natural; it doesn’t sound so rigid,” she says.

After college, Ms. Castellano moved to New York City, where she worked odd jobs and wrote part-time. During this time, she dabbled in writing for middle school students and children’s books, but eventually decided to go back to her roots and write for adults.

“Saving What’s Left” was created during the pandemic, and Ms. Castellano sits at the window of her beach house, gazing out at the waves, surrounded by her inspiration. The book took six months to write, another six months to edit, and when it was returned to her by her publisher, “fundamentally revised”.

The main character, Katherine Dean, is from Kansas. Katherine Dean was inspired by the author’s threats to her family to move to Kansas City and quit writing, “to get a job at Hallmark and make second-rate holiday cards that no one would want,” she says.

“Where would I be if I quit writing and started doing this,” Ms. Castellano said, referring to the situation in the novel where Catherine Dean is: starting a new life, just retiring, and wanting to move to the beach Enjoy a glass of wine on the living porch.

The title of the book echoes the slogan used by the North Fork Environmental Council, a longtime local nonprofit. But for Ms Castellano, the phrase meant more than environmental protection; it was about environmental protection. It’s about saving the last remaining characters in these small towns. “People come to these places for a reason, and a big part of that is the natural beauty,” she said. For protagonist Catherine Dean, it’s also about saving the rest of her marriage and herself.

“It was really written and I hope it comes through with a lot of affection for this place and the people who live here,” Ms Castellano said.

“Saving What’s Left” is a comedic summer read for anyone who lives in a small town and understands the mundane drama of local board meetings and Sunday pickleball games. “I want people to think it’s funny, an escape,” she said, “just take it to the beach and have a good laugh; that’s really why I write, to have fun.”

Ms. Castellano’s second book is already in the works. “It’s not a beach book yet,” she said, “but it might become one.”

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