Two Harbors and the Vanilla Bean live in new book’s pages
By: Claire Hoffert, Lake County News Chronicle
Professional football fan and author, Marilyn Joseph, has written a book with Two Harbors as a main setting. While she is not a native of the area, Joseph says she has stayed at Bob’s Cabins, just outside of Two Harbors, multiple times — a place that has informed her work.
“There is an ambiance that is hard to put into words. However, I think I speak for most when I say there is something special about Two Harbors,” Joseph said. “Perhaps I was drawn to it, also, because it is like the gate to the North Shore.”
Her book, More Than a Game, is her fourth. It’s a sports fiction novel that tells the story of Mike Jacobs, a NFL head coach, and Jenna Huddy, who moved house to house in foster care until her emancipation at age eighteen. Following two fictitious teams, the Atlantic City Rollers and Jacob’s team, the Omaha Stampeders, the events of the story take place between November and Super Bowl Sunday of 2015. The novel pursues a trail of deceit and corruption and a new NFL scandal, Gotsplaysgate, which replaces Spygate and Bountygate, previous scandals.
Owing to Joseph’s love of professional football, the novel describes the game in precise detail, a goal she set for herself as a fan and a writer.
“Before I started writing this book, I promised myself it would be both smart and technically correct,” she said. “I made ten copies of football field templates to map the various plays so I could avoid making technical mistakes.”
The Vanilla Bean Cafe, character Jenna Huddy’s place of employment, was a restaurant where Joseph enjoyed a Mediterranean omelet on her first visit.
“It was memorable to the point of including the cafe and the omelet into the novel,” Joseph said.
In the process of writing the book, she also called the Vanilla Bean’s owners, Jan and Paul Bergman, to ask permission to write fictional dialogue between them and Huddy.
“Jan was gracious, saying she and Paul approved,” Joseph said, adding that she was “ deeply saddened to read... of Paul’s passing.” Paul Bergman passed away just a couple of month ago..
The lighthouse in Two Harbors is the site of important events toward the end of the book. According to Joseph, it is there that Huddy unravels the story of her life. The landmark is also a very important place to Joseph.
“On those nights when I might not be able to get to sleep, I picture myself at the Superior shoreline, at the lighthouse and the actual harbors,” she said.
Joseph currently lives in Peoria, Ill., where she writes grants for non-profit organizations and where she recently completed two terms on the board of directors of the South Side Office of Concern, an organization that provides housing for the homeless. She says she is planning to write a sequel to More Than a Game, tentatively titled All We’ll Ever Need.
Ultimately, Joseph said she chose Two Harbors as the main setting for her book because of its beauty and many different restaurants and cabins.
“Bob’s Cabins, Lake Superior and the lighthouses, the Vanilla Bean Cafe and Betty’s Pies — that says it all!”