The Thunder Beneath Us is primarily set in New York City, but there are some major scenes that take place in Canada, specifically Montreal and a little bit in Toronto. Moving important parts of the story up north was less a creative decision and more about my real world seeping into this made-up one. The thing is, I’m Canadian—born and raised in Montreal and I went to university in Toronto—so those places have a definite hold and influence on me. And with my family being West Indian, you’ll always find some slice of Canada and the Caribbean folded into the larger story that I’m trying to tell, because they are important pieces of the overall fabric that makes me, me. Truth is, you’d be hard pressed to find novelists that don’t incorporate some of themselves, people in their lives and experiences—personal or observed—into their work.
It’s classic Write What You Know, yes, but it’s also an opportunity for me to explore the layers of all of that, of what it means to be Canadian with a deep Caribbean heritage and living in the U.S. as an American citizen. It allows me to delve into big, important concepts like identity that shape how we see ourselves and interpret our place in the world. For example, my protagonist Best Lightburn is, like me, born and raised in Montreal and living in Brooklyn, NY. I was able to infuse her experience with some of my own. However, I’m happy to say that I haven’t gone through even a quarter of the drama Best endures, so our two roads diverge quite early in this story! But, through writing this book, I was able to “revisit” some of the sites and sentiments of growing up in Montreal, and that was a complete joy.
About the Book
To the world, Best Lightburn is a talented writer rising up the masthead at international style magazine James, girlfriend of a gorgeous up-and-coming actor, and friend to New York City’s fabulous. Then there’s the other Best, the one who has chosen to recast herself as an only child rather than confront the truth.
Ten years ago, on Christmas Eve, Best and her two older brothers took a shortcut over a frozen lake. When the ice cracked, all three went in. Only Best came out. People said she was lucky, but that kind of luck is nothing but a burden. Because Best knows what she had to do to survive. And after years of covering up the past, her guilt is detonating through every facet of her seemingly charmed life. It’s all unraveling so fast: her new boss is undermining and deceitful, her boyfriend is recovering from a breakdown, and a recent investigative story has led to a secret affair with the magazine’s wealthy publisher.
Best is quick-witted and headstrong, but how do you find a way to happiness when you’re sure you haven’t earned it—or embrace a future you feel you don’t deserve? Evocative and emotional, The Thunder Beneath Us is a gripping novel about learning to carry loss without breaking, and to heal and forgive—not least of all, ourselves.
“A compelling, thought-provoking novel that asks: Can you ever really escape your past? Blades’ fresh voice and insider eye for detail will draw you into the vivid, fast-paced world of Best Lightburn—and keep you there, long after you’ve turned the final page.” —Colleen Oakley, author of Before I Go
“Nicole Blades has crafted a uniquely funny and wise meditation on family, friendship, romance, and the workplace. The Thunder Beneath Us has moments of sheer hilarity, but a dark undercurrent never leaves the story or the soul of Best Lightburn—haunted by a tragedy that shadows her, whether she’s hanging with one of Hollywood’s hottest celebs or pursuing a dangerous workplace romance. That secret underscores the book’s central notion: that while we can’t ever escape our past, we can meet the future by holding tight to the hands of those who love us.” —Cheryl Della Pietra, author of Gonzo Girl