Greetings from Topsail Island

di and pups on beachWhen I decided to set Before the Storm and Secrets She Left Behind on Topsail Island, I never dreamed how important this place would become to me. From my very first research trip,  though, I knew I’d discovered something special. It reminded me of my childhood at the Jersey Shore and of my early adulthood on the Outer Banks. Like most coastal areas, it has way too many houses crammed together along the beach, but now with the purchase of my own oceanfront condo I’m part of the development, so I guess I can no longer complain! In spite of the wonderfully eclectic hodgepodge of homes, Topsail retains its away-from-everything charm. Just a few restaurants and shops and only one stoplight. It makes a perfect setting for my books– an area where everyone knows everyone else and where a tragedy and a mystery have an impact on all.

This has been our first visit to the condo, which I purchased after seeing it for only 5 minutes. It’s wonderful! It needs a little TLC and I’m looking forward to making it mine. It’s less than three hours from our home in the Raleigh area and is a perfect getaway. Keeper and Jet had never seen the beach before and after three days here, they’re still a little perplexed, but at least their ears are no longer flattened against their heads! John hasn’t taken his camera from his face since our arrival. I doubt he’ll ever get tired of photographing the island.

As for me. . . I have a simple, incredible, unexpected joy. As my frequent readers know, I have rheumatoid arthritis. It’s under very good control, but my left foot and ankle have a great deal of damage sustained before the “good drugs” came along. It’s hard for me to walk and impossible for me to walk on uneven surfaces, such as the beach. But a year ago, I had a brace made which is builtP1000524 - Copy into my sneaker and guess what? For the first time in about ten years,  I can walk on the beach! I’ve been overdoing it like crazy the past few days, and enjoying every sandy minute.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about my next book, and the characters wouldn’t settle down inside my head. I got up and went out to the deck and lay down on the broad bench you see here in this picture. I listened to the sea while staring up at Orion and the three-quarter moon and thought about how lucky I am to be able to have homes in two places that I love, to be surrounded by the people (and animals) that I love, and to be able to do the work that I love.  My hope is that you, my readers, feel equally as lucky in your lives.


  1. brenda on October 11, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    There is no where like the ocean. From the first time I saw it at Myrtle Beach in 1973, I wanted to live there. I lived close enough for 5 years and loved it. How relaxed you seem…it is great…

  2. Gina on October 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I love this blog Diane. I’m so very happy for you. The ocean is definitely a peaceful place.

    I, too, am very blessed in my life. I thank God every day.

    Thanks for sharing your photos with us. I love these pics.

  3. Julie Kibler on October 11, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    So happy for you!

  4. Margo on October 12, 2009 at 8:21 am

    Diane, the ocean is the most beautiful, serene place in the world and you are so fortunate to live there…I am happy for you beyond words, and the fact that after all these years you are able to ‘walk’ the beach…how blessed you must feel.
    These pics are beautiful…thank you John for taking them and sharing with us.

  5. Emilie Richards on October 12, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, I love the photo and all the good news. I am so delighted for you.

  6. Diane Chamberlain on October 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve discovered the one and only problem with being here: I’m getting no work done! I thought I’d have my 2011 book entirely outlined by now, but noooooo. And tomorrow is our last full day. Oh well. I guess the newness will eventually wear off and next time we’re down here I’ll work harder and EAT LESS. I am appalled at myself!

  7. Margo on October 13, 2009 at 8:54 am

    LOL Diane!!…you’re so funny!!…you deserve this ‘vacation’ time so enjoy it…there’s plenty of time to work at your new home…after all, this is the first time you’ve been able to walk on the beach in years so take advantage and embrace it. We all have faith that your outline will get done. (-O:

  8. Ingrid King on October 14, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Congratulations! It’s a wonderful feeling when you find a place that resonates so deeply with you. You are clearly meant to be there. I can’t wait to read the books that this wonderful place will inspire in you.

  9. Mary Ann Banks on October 22, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I loved Before the storm. I felt like I was living my life while reading it. I am an adoptive parent of an FAS child. And we had a foster child with FAS & just the opposite of Laurel, I had to convince people it was possible that he did this type of things. I cant wait to read your future books on the topics.

  10. Diane Chamberlain on October 22, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Mary Ann, thank you for giving these children a good home! I’m glad you enjoyed Before the Storm, and hope you’ll like reading Secrets She Left Behind as well.

  11. Kay on November 4, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Well, I am only about 11 years late discovering this blog, but still enjoyed it immensely! Certainly share your love of Tops’l ~ my extended family and I have been vacationing there since 1970 ~ (the sweet ladies at the original Gift Basket started referring to us as ‘summer locals’) . It was on one of those reunions that I found Before the Storm and became a loyal fan. Although our numbers have dwindled from about 35 to about 15, it is still our ‘summer place’ and worth the trip from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and other parts of North Carolina. Occasionally, the original 7 cousins manage an extra trip in either the spring ~ or the fall ~ or both ~ and on one visit several years ago rented side-by-side condos at QG, learning only after checking in that we were right beside yours! Wishing you many more happy hours there and looking forward to future books 👏👏👏

    • Diane Chamberlain on November 5, 2020 at 7:39 pm

      So nice to hear from another Topsail lover. Thanks for telling me about your long-time enjoyment of my favorite place. Hope you get to spend time there for the rest of your lives.

  12. kelly on February 10, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Do you still rent your condo out?

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