Sunny Hostin on why she wrote her new book ‘Summer on the Bluffs’: ‘I really needed an escape’

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On The View, co-host Sunny Hostin routinely tackles the biggest headlines from politics to social justice. She's known for her straight talk and legal expertise, but the former prosecutor is showing another side in her new book Summer on the Bluffs.

Sunny Hostin talks about why she didn’t shy away from tough issues like colorism and classism in her new novel,
Sunny Hostin with her new novel, Summer on the Bluffs.

In her debut novel, Hostin tells the story of three women who reunite to spend the summer together with their godmother Amelia at her home on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s a story of sand and secrets, romance and family.

We've gone through a lot this past year and a half. I really needed an escape,” Hostin told Yahoo Life. “I would look for books — on the cover, for pictures of Black women, and I didn't find them. And I thought, you know, I should probably think about writing something like this because I've been a storyteller for so long.”

The characters each bring their own unique and diverse viewpoints to the narrative, and the location is the character that brings all of their stories together. Hostin chose the beach town of Oak Bluffs because it's been known as an enclave for Black elite since the Harlem Renaissance. Discriminatory real estate practices made it hard for Black families to buy property in other towns, and public spaces like pools and beaches often took much longer to desegregate. Hostin calls the book a love letter to the history on Martha’s Vineyard, a place where she has vacationed for decades.

I started thinking that there were just a few places that allowed Black people to be on the beach and be their authentic selves. There were three areas primarily that Black folks could buy beachfront property. Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Sag Harbor in the Hamptons and Highland Point in Maryland. And I thought, isn't that a wonderful jump-off point?” said Hostin.

The setting allowed Hostin to explore the ways in which race and class impact the lives of the characters — who, like Hostin, are primarily Black and Latinx. From career ambitions to love and family dynamics, the themes in the book echo conversations happening in the broader community.

We have to grapple with issues of colorism in our community. We have to grapple with what goes on at work. We have to grapple with competition between us,” said Hostin.

When it came to writing the romantic scenes in Summer on the Bluffs, Hostin joked that her Catholic school girl upbringing made her a little shy. To spark some heat, she reveals that she called in reinforcements.

I basically invited some girlfriends and some guy friends over to the house. I supplied them with wine and I gave them the chapters,” Hostin giggled. “That's how it got a little juicier and sexier.”

Collaboration and storytelling are at the heart of everything Hostin does, and the prosecutor turned TV host just announced that she is also starting her own production company called Roots and Wings Productions. Its first project will be a drama series based on Summer on the Bluffs, in partnership with ABC Signature and Octavia Spencer’s Orit Entertainment banner. “I sent this book to Octavia Spencer. She read it quickly and said to me, let's put this on screen together,” said Hostin.

While it will be the first project, it won't be the last. Roots and Wings Productions is on a mission to create TV and film that address social injustice and highlights inclusivity.

“It's time for our stories to be told,” said Hostin. “I feel like I can be the root now. I have a seat at the table and I'm going to give other people the opportunity to fly.”

Video produced by Stacy Jackman

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