Southampton Shores-based author Tade Reen’s new book, Conscience Point, is a novel set in the Hamptons that tells the story of Rachel Jones, a hedge funder who falls in love with Walter “Scallop” Koslowski, a local farmer. Reen, who attended Muhlenberg College’s theater program while playing football and then found his way into writing, talks about Hamptons inspirations, his interesting career path and the places where fiction and reality meet.
You started as an actor, how did you get into writing?
I was always writing growing up, then I started writing plays, as every theater major does. I got out of college and I was an actor for the better part of my 20s. Then Muhlenberg paid me to write a play from a federal grant they received and that play turned into a touring show. I did that and started to get the feedback that my talent is more in writing than acting, and at that point I wasn’t making any money acting. So I entered the real world, got a job and wrote my first book. Then this idea just hit me straight out of nowhere. It took on a life of its own and I found myself writing on subways and buses once we moved to the suburbs to keep the story moving. The feedback has been great thus far. Seeing people I don’t know reading it is pretty cool.
The book is a love story, but not classified as “romance novel.”
I never thought I’d write something that would be classified as commercial women’s fiction but as the story developed I realized the main character was the woman, which was not my original intention. I wanted it to be as real as possible and still fall into that love story category. If you break down any two people and their differences, it’s amazing that any of them work, you need a lot of luck on your side. It exposed a bit of a problem with the story where I’d written a great skeleton but I needed someone to help me get into the inner thoughts of a woman. It’s more of a Pat Conroy-ish novel in a very specific place. The main characters are based on people I know. It’s one thing to look at life on the East End as a summer person but to really know some of the people that populate the place, they see it from a whole different lens.
Talk about your Hamptons connection and how it informed Conscience Point.
I live in Westchester and grew up in Connecticut, and was out east for the better part of the summer. We’d go back to Westchester for a day to mow the lawn and then go back out east. I felt a lot more seasonal tension between the locals and the new crowd. Normally it’s annoying during the summer but this year you had people that had never been there before. Back when my wife and I were dating we’d go to Cyril’s sometimes, but I like to keep it in that North Sea area from the book. The Coast Grill is right down the road from it. I used to love the Lobster Inn when that was open, Fellingham’s was a great place to meet some true characters.
Talk about how Conscience Point captures the Hamptons.
One thing I tried to do in the story is that the local kids who live there year-round are friends with the summer kids until they get to their teens. You have less and less in common with your friends that you grew up with in the summer, and there’s a certain sadness to that. Local people that have been talking about the book have been saying that I caught the local life and feel. I was worried as hell about that. You’re using real names and real places, presenting them as imperfect people and places.
Visit tadereen.com for more information on Conscience Point.