Before the Storm

Humpback Whale.jpg

Finally, June first, the actual release date for Before the Storm, is here (well, it will be tomorrow), so I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts about this book.

The idea for Before the Storm initially came to me in two parts. I was thinking about a story idea involving a teenager who appears to be a hero but who may or may not be heroic in reality. At the same time, I took part in an annual event on Topsail Island called the Authors’ Moveable Feast, sponsored by Quarter Moon Books. (side note: this was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve ever particpated in. Akin to “speed dating”, authors move from table to table at a luncheon, taking ten minutes to tell the diners about his or her book). Once I saw Topsail Island, I knew it would be the setting for my next book. So immediately, I began to think about my teenaged “hero” and how his or her story would fit into that setting.

I wanted my teen’s heroism to be a surprise to the town’s people, so I needed to figure out why that would be the case. Thus, Andy Lockwood, a boy who is a simple, concrete thinker due to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, was “born.” In my long ago career as a clinical social worker in the maternity unit of a hospital, I learned how drinking during pregnancy could impact a child, and later, when I worked with teens in my private practice, I saw some of those children and witnessed their struggle to fit in with their peers as well as to achieve in school. I also witnessed their considerable charm. Andy grew into a charmer in my mind, and I think you will come to like him very much–even as you wonder about his suspect heroism.

I’d like to say that I “gave” Andy a sister and a widowed mother, but my writing often seems out of my control, and that was the case here. Andy’s sister Maggie and his mother Laurel simply appeared. As a matter of fact, as Maggie began telling me about herself, starting with the statement “My father was killed by a whale,” I knew I was in danger of her hijacking the entire story. Anyone who’s read the story will understand why I used the picture of the humpback above as my desktop image while I wrote Before the Storm.

I’ve discussed much more about the writing of, and research behind, Before the Storm here on my website, so I won’t go into more of it now. Instead, I’d like to say how much the story means to me. Living with these fictional people for a year made them part of my heart. They feel real to me–as real as the affection and empathy I have for them. I hope your experience of them is similar, and I hope you find the story engrossing, suspenseful and rewarding.

If you’d like to discuss Before the Storm here on the blog, I welcome you to do so. But if your post might “give something away”, please begin it with the word SPOILER, so those who haven’t yet the book will be able to enjoy any surprises for themselves.



  1. Ann on May 31, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    The characters in Before the Storm are unforgettable. I Love Andy!!!

  2. Gina on May 31, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Hey Ann! I finished the book and I’m talking about it on my book forum, if you’d like to drop by, I saw that you signed up. Also – anyone else too, feel free to come by or we can talk about it here.
    I loved the book Diane! I KNEW Maggie had a story she wasn’t telling us, but little did I know there would be more with Keith. Really, really good book. I can’t wait to read the sequel now. Thank you for another book well done!

  3. Diane Chamberlain on June 1, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I’m so glad you two enjoyed Before the Storm!
    I have to admit, I’m already getting nervous about too much being revealed in the blog posts (your spoiler was fine, Gina, don’t worry), so if you want to write something that might give too much away, may I suggest you visit Gina’s terrific book discussion site For more general discussion, though, please stick around! I’d miss you if you left.

  4. Ann on June 1, 2008 at 1:58 am

    I understand your concern about too much being revealed on your blog but I think that most of the people that write on your blog will be considerate. The suggestion about Gina’s site is great – I am enjoying it very much. I am really looking forward to the sequel – After the Storm.

  5. lorene on June 1, 2008 at 8:18 am

    I prefer reading books on the Kindle and I was very happy to see it listed today. I have almost a third of Skeletons At The Feast to read and then it’s on to the long awaited Before The Storm. Yipee!

  6. brenda on June 1, 2008 at 8:22 am

    I agree with you about too much being said-however, most of us are going to be careful about that. I do agree that the characters are so believable that it is almost like reading creative nonfiction.

  7. Gina on June 1, 2008 at 9:34 am

    OMG Diane! Are you trying to make me faint! LOL
    You became a member and posted on my board? OMG, you are THE most inctedibly nicest person. Thank you so so much, I know how busy you are.
    I got a beautiful surprise this morning when I saw your posts. I appreciate it so much!!
    I’m glad my spoiler post here wasn’t too revealing. I wasn’t sure how much to say, so I’m glad you said it was all right.
    Diane – Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

  8. Margo on June 2, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Gina, thank you so much for writing SPOILER…as soon as I saw that I skipped the rest of your comment…I am still at the beginning of the book and I’m 1 of those readers who like to know NOTHING from anyone when starting a book…part of the adventure is discovering everything 1st hand! Ann’s right, most of the people on your blog Diane are very considerate and won’t give anything away but I’m grateful you suggested SPOILER to be stated if anything important is discussed. As mentioned before, I am reading this slowly for 2 reasons…1 because I savor every word written by Diane and #2 because I am on a deadline myself with painting commissions and am working nonstop on those…I read everynite before bed but until my art projects are out of the way, I won’t be able to read thru a book as fast as I want…that’s ok tho…the reading experience of BEFORE THE STORM is wonderful as I read it slowly. I already know that I won’t want this book to end but knowing we have AFTER THE STORM to look forward to is another thing to look forward to. Diane, it must be awfully hard for you to see a book come to an end after you’ve become so close to these people.

  9. Brenda on June 2, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Margo-I already miss Andy and Maggie-so might have to read again this weekend. Glad you are enjoying it. Didn’t Diane get the voices just right????

  10. Gina on June 2, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    I completely agree about the voices, Brenda. I could also picture them very well in my mind too. I wish they would make a movie out of this.

  11. Julie on June 2, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Yep, I appreciate the spoiler warnings, too! I’m hoping to get the book and take it on a vacation to California next week, and I’m another one of those who can’t stand knowing anything much ahead of time, other than the basic type things Diane has shared here.
    My main character in the story I’m writing has a defining characteristic I considered changing at one point (he’s deaf), and I couldn’t do it. He came to the story that way, so I can definitely understand what you’re saying about the mother and sister, Diane! It’s kind of like picking and choosing your child’s characteristics–it just doesn’t happen (science aside, which is a little scary). They just are who they are.

  12. Julie on June 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    And, duh, I forgot to say …
    CONGRATS on the official book release!!!

  13. Diane Chamberlain on June 2, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Brenda, I’m so glad to hear you say I got the voices “just right.” I worked hard on differentiating between them, making sure each voice reflected the character’s personality and it thrills me to know I succeeded with at least one reader.
    Lorene, yippee! I, too, am glad Before the Storm is available for Kindle. Enjoy.
    Margo, you’re right–it is hard to come to the end of a book, although by the time I type The End, I’m so relieved to meet my deadline that I don’t think about it until later. Since I’m writing a sequel to Before the Storm, I didn’t have to say good bye to “my people.”
    Julie, I know what you mean. Your character arrived deaf, and I’m afraid there’s no cure, at least not outside your story. LOL. He should make for some very interesting reading. I recall years ago hearing another writer say her character came to her with just one eye–he wore a patch over the other. She swore she would NEVER AGAIN create a one-eyed character because of all the times she had to write sentences such as “She looked into his eye. . . ”

  14. brenda on June 3, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I have come up with so many scenarios for the next book…I can’t wait to see what happens.
    I have read parts of the book to the students–they like the characters too. Can’t read much because school is about over-we are in finals…at the high school (College is over.)and the girls want to read the book themselves. It is not in the stores here yet, but will be in Charleston and Huntington…
    One question Diane-if you can answer it…Will Part II take off from Part I or will there be time in between (years…)

  15. Gina on June 3, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    That’s a good question Brenda! Do tell us Diane, inquiring minds want to know. LOL

  16. Krysia on June 3, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I FINALY got the book. I went back to the big city today (as a tag along) and went to the what’s supposed to be a subsidary of Borders and they told me I had to order it. Well I’m inpatient and I braved the horrid traffic and went to Barnes and Noble and found the book. I’m excited. I just don’t know if I’ll start it before the little guy gets here. 27 days and counting to the due date and so much to do.

  17. Diane Chamberlain on June 3, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Krysia, you are a devoted fan! And you must be getting very excited about the upcoming arrival.
    Brenda and Gina, the sequel begins a year after the end of Before the Storm. It was fun to fast forward a year to see how people have grown and changed.

  18. Julie on June 4, 2008 at 12:10 am

    Ok, I’m laughing and I can’t stop…she looked into his eye…hahahaha! It shouldn’t really be funny, but it is!
    Little noises surprise me as I’m editing his POV. I think, “DANGIT. THAT should not be there.” LOL
    Krysia! 27 days! Maybe less, if you’re lucky! All three of mine were early, although the third was the most stubborn. She was too comfy in there. And still a mama’s girl.
    My older daughter (14 going on 20) is really starting to read right along with me, and it’s so fun, Brenda. We both just finished the new Joshilyn Jackson book (The Girl Who Stopped Swimming).
    Hmm…hope I can get the book at the bricks ‘n mortar before my trip! Maybe I better call ahead.

  19. Julie on June 4, 2008 at 12:11 am

    Oh, no, I wonder if my superlong comment just imploded. I don’t see it!

  20. Diane Chamberlain on June 4, 2008 at 12:16 am

    Julie, never fear. Your comment came through. I’ve noticed there is a lag time on this new blog. Sometimes if you click on “refresh” on the toolbar, the comment will appear right away.

  21. Margo on June 4, 2008 at 8:13 am

    Krysia, my friend is expecting triplets and is due in 27 days also!…I’ll think of you when my friends babies are born. (-:

  22. brenda on June 4, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Diane-I like the one year…that will be enough to get on with the story, but not too much to seem realistic.
    Can’t wait…counting the days again…

  23. Gina on June 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Yay! It’s good to know that it will only be one year Diane. Wonder what will happen? You always have something good up your sleeve. TeeHee
    Hey Diane, wanted to let you know that the Happy Bookers created a myspace page and we’ve got your book (Before the Storm) posted on the front page. When a guest clicks on it, it takes them right to the Amazon page where they can order the book. Looks like Amazon has an excerpt for the book too.

  24. Diane Chamberlain on June 5, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Thanks, Gina. That’s really cool!

  25. Lorene on June 6, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Finished it! Loved it! I am surely recommending it to everyone I see.

  26. Denise on June 7, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    I intentionally stayed away from this blog until I finished the book. I was too afraid of reading something I would not want to read before finishing the book.
    Oh, I loved it, Diane! And you sure did toss it quite a few surprises for us, didn’t you? It is a great book, and I will be recommending it to many!
    I have to say that I wish I could meet a Jamie or Marcus in real life. Lol!
    I think it’s terrific that the second book will begin a year later. That will give the characters plenty of time to develop into the changes their lives certainly will experience.
    I can barely wait for the second book.

  27. Diane Chamberlain on June 8, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Denise and Lorene, I’m so glad you loved it! I really liked Jamie and Marcus, too, Denise. Marcus’s voice was my challenge (one of many) to write. Not my usual sensitive guy characters, though he’s certainly sensitive in his own way. I’m glad he worked for you.

  28. Mariah on September 30, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    I’m a high schooler and i just finished book. My teacher recommended to the class and i loved it!! Maggie was my favorite character. Can’t wait for the sequel!!

  29. norma manor on October 15, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    When may I be able to purchase the sequel to Before The storm.?????

  30. Diane Chamberlain on October 16, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Hi Norma,
    Secrets She Left Behind, which is the new title for the sequel to Before the Storm won’t be out until late May. Sorry for the long wait!

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