Norene Moskalski has traveled the world visiting just about every coastline along the way. After vacationing in Lewes for the first time in 2004, she knew it was a place she wanted to return.
"Out of all of the coasts I've visited, I like the Delaware coast the best," she said. "I like the way the beaches are open to the public."
She likes it so much, she set the plot of her first novel, "Nocturne, Opus 1: Sea Foam," along the Delaware coast.
Using her professional experience in academia and combining it with a twist of espionage, Moskalski wrote what she calls "a high stakes medical eco-thriller."
The book is about a couple of researchers at a Delaware university who secretly work as agents for an environmental group. They discover a rogue scientist has infected local waters with life-threatening bacteria and they must stop him before people die.
The idea for the book came to her while reminiscing about her doctoral thesis and remembering all the visiting professors she met during that time in her life.
"I wondered, what if those professors weren't really professors but they were government agents dropped into the setting?" she said. "It got me thinking that I could write a story about that."
Moskalski grew up in Hermitage, Pa., where she was graduated from high school in 1966. She continued her education at Slippery Rock University earning a bachelor's degree followed by a master's degree from University of Pittsburgh, both for English and secondary education.
Though she didn't plan it, she jokes that she got a Mrs. from her time at Slippery Rock along with a bachelor's degree.
Moskalski said she met her husband, Michael, during her first day at Slippery Rock.
"We were there two weeks before school started for band camp," she said.
Though in different band sections – she played the trumpet, Michael played contra-bass clarinet – they made a life-long connection.
"I still have my trumpet," she said. "It is something that I'd like to take up in my retirement."
World of academia
Moskalski worked for a few years as a high school teacher before taking time off to raise two daughters – Susanne and Lisa.
Returning to the workforce when her youngest was in kindergarten, she quickly found a job in higher education. She worked for Penn State University at Mont Alto before earning a doctorate in higher education administration from Penn State in 2000. From there, she worked at Temple University as a professor and assistant vice provost among other duties surveying the college's institutes, which are funded by grant money. Her job was to research what the institutes do and explain how they are funded, she said.
Higher degrees run in the family – Michael has a doctorate in an educational field, Lisa earned a master's in business administration from Stanford and Susanne has a doctorate from University of Delaware in marine studies and oceanography.
Moskalski's visits during the four years Susanne worked on her Ph.D. in Lewes convinced Moskalski that Lewes was a place she would like to someday call home.
"Some places we've visited don't even allow people to pick up shells or sea glass from the beach," she said. "I think Delaware has done a great job preserving the coast for public use."
Moskalski and her husband now have a home in Bear and a vacation home in Bay Crossing. Between traveling to Palo Alto, Calif., to visit daughter Lisa, her husband and their grandson, almost 2, the couple spends as much free time as possible in Lewes, she said.
"We love the beaches, the history, the restaurants," she said. "When we come to Lewes, we just feel like we're on vacation. People are so welcoming and the atmosphere is so relaxed."
Moskalski is taking a break before writing her next novel – a follow-up to Sea Foam. In the meantime, she is staying busy trying her hand at publishing other Delmarva novelists through her start-up company, Divinity Press.
Her book can be purchased at www.NoreneMoskalski.com or found at Amazon.com.
"My dream is to have a house on the beach, but I'll have to sell a few more books, " she said.