At the start of 2023, author Elin Hilderbrand texted her longtime friend Tim Ehrenberg with an idea. After she retired, she mused, the two of them—both longtime residents of Nantucket—should do a podcast together. But Hilderbrand’s retirement was likely still some years away (the 54-year-old “queen of beach reads” has a new novel out in June) and Ehrenberg was eager to team up. He would have to get creative.

So Ehrenberg enlisted the help of Nantucket magazine, where he has a monthly book column, to produce their future podcast now. Last summer, the pair launched Books, Beach, & Beyond, a show about all things literary—with a distinctly local flavor. The first season, which premiered in June and aired 12 episodes, was met with enthusiastic local support and sponsorships. Season two of Books, Beach, & Beyond will premiere this summer.

“It’s been an incredible experience to work with Elin on this project and to hear her talk with other authors about their shared craft of writing, the publishing world, and what we all are reading,” Ehrenberg said. “Both Elin and I have a long wish list of writers that we hope to get [next season.]”

In each episode, Ehrenberg and Hilderbrand talk shop with each other and then interview a guest author. “We choose our guests very organically,” Ehrenberg said, “and for the most part our guests for season one consisted of authors both Elin and I truly wanted to talk to because we’re fans.” The first season featured conversations with such authors as Fredrik Backman, Colleen Hoover, Maggie O’Farrell, Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jake Tapper, and Jennifer Weiner.

Other guests have included industry figures such as book club maven Jenna Bush Hager and New York Times Book Review editor Gilbert Cruz. The show’s first episode also featured conversations with Hilderbrand’s agent, Michael Carlisle of Inkwell Management, and Judy Clain, the editor of Hilderbrand’s 2023 novel The Five-Star Weekend.

“All our conversations are geared towards this love of the publishing world,” Ehrenberg said, “and through all our episodes we’ve really fleshed out that world and what it’s like to be a part of it.”

Ehrenberg and Hilderbrand first met in 2012—before the former had even relocated to Nantucket. One summer day, Ehrenberg and his now-husband were scoping out the island for their wedding and came upon an event at the first-ever Nantucket Book Festival. There, Ehrenberg was introduced to Hilderbrand.

“I was thrilled because I had just picked up her novel The Castaways at Mitchell's Book Corner earlier that week to read and soak up the scene while I was on Nantucket,” he recalled. A year later, he was living on the island and handling marketing for two local bookstores. “From there, I started to work closely with Elin and her books and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Since moving to Nantucket in 2013, Ehrenberg has become a pillar of the island’s book business. “I wear several hats here,” he said. “Several” is an understatement: in addition to his role at Nantucket, Ehrenberg is marketing and events director at Nantucket Book Partners, which comprises the independent bookstores Mitchell's Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks; president of the Nantucket Book Foundation; and head of marketing and PR for the Nantucket Book Festival. (Previously, he was a "song and dance performer" and participated in a 2010 USO tour.)

As for Hilderbrand, she’s nearly single-handedly put Nantucket—where she’s lived for more than 30 years—on the literary map. She moved to Nantucket in 1993 to take a job at a local paper, and then began writing fiction. Since 2000, she’s penned 30 novels, nearly all of them set on the island. (Her books have been published by Little, Brown since 2008.) Her fans, who call themselves “Hilderbabes,” even make annual pilgrimages to Nantucket to meet the author and experience the setting of her novels firsthand.

Ehrenberg said he and Hilderbrand had “no real end game” for the podcast beyond getting to talk about the books they love with authors they admire. “I think and hope this enthusiasm comes across in each episode and with each question.”