Trip Fiction Article

Talking Location With… author John Nuckel: Martha’s Vineyard

22nd February 2018

#TalkingLocationWith… author John Nuckel: Martha’s Vineyard where his novel “Drive” is set in part.

I was jogging on Edgartown Bay Road in Martha’s Vineyard a few years ago. At the two-mile mark on my phone app I came across a sign that read “Huckleberry Barrens.” I will admit to not knowing what the hell a Huckleberry is but it was hot, I was tired and it looked like there might be some shade on the trail. I turned in.

As I wound around the scenic path I forgot about my aching knees and thought that I would let my wife know how peaceful it was and maybe we would come back for a casual walk.

When I exited the trail I looked down at my phone to gauge the distance. The trail didn’t register on the GPS. My phone read that I was still at two miles. This trail was off the grid! My first thought was, what a great place to bury a body.

Maybe I should explain. I’m not a killer. I’m a thriller writer. So, I guess you can say I play one in print.

I’m sure Huckleberry Barrens is not as barren as it once was. My visit took place a couple of I phones ago. No doubt every inch from Katama Bay to Mattakessett Way has been mapped out by numerous satellites.

Speaking of Mattakessett Way, what a great place for a rogue Chinese spy to have his base of operations. Between a farm and an airfield? Privacy with an easy escape route. How could I not use that?

Here I go explaining again. I don’t come to Martha’s Vineyard year after year to look for secret hideouts or to bury bodies. When I discovered that trail I was staying at the Winnetu resort. I come with my wife and family for the amazing beach and the bike ride into Edgartown. I come to eat lobster and drink cold beer as I sit on a deck watching the boats bob up and down in the harbor. I come to watch my kids run around on South beach then watch the sunset with an ice cream cone after a great meal at the Homeport in Menemsha.

I’m a New York guy, I’m not a Yankee fan so Vineyarders can keep reading, but I’ve been coming to Martha’s Vineyard since my college days. I prefer the shorts and T-shirt vibe of the island over the fashion show that takes place in the Hamptons every summer. Back then it was beer in a plastic cup and bonfires on the beach. Now, my wife and I come prepared to sample the latest hot restaurants. We enjoyed the Red Cat in Oak Bluffs last summer.

For my latest book, Drive I wanted to take part the story out of the city. I never would have thought that my restful escape from the streets of New York would be a locale for murder and intrigue until I hit that trail. I think you’ll agree that a quiet wooded area across the street from multi-million-dollar beach front homes is a great place to launch a murder investigation.

The book was finished after I rented a house on Mattakessett and jogged along Edgartown Bay Road and turned in to the Huckleberry Barrens trail. I’ll be there again this summer. I’m not sure where I’ll be staying, but I know I will wander down to the beach with my wife in the late afternoon. I’ll have one meal at the Homeport, I may even take an early morning jog. I know I’m going to have to run off that sunset ice cream. You may spot me there. I’ll be the guy checking the mileage on his phone jogging among the Hucklebe.

Thank you so much to John for sharing such a different side to Martha’s Vineyard!


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John Nuckel

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