I know you’re not supposed to love some of your children more than others, but I can’t help it. Keeper of the Light has always been one of my favorites of my books. It was originally published in hardcover in 1992 and mass market paperback in 1993, then reissued about ten years ago in trade paperback. As of today, it’s back again by popular demand, once more in trade paperback, and it will be available as an e-book for the first time on April 1st. I’m thrilled! The first book in the Outer Banks trilogy, Keeper will be followed this fall by the second book, Kiss River and in the spring by the third, Her Mother’s Shadow. You can read the first chapter of Keeper of the Light here.
As I tried to think of what to tell you about Keeper that you may not already know, I created a long checklist. There’s so much I could say about this book, but I thought I’d begin by telling you something very, very personal about it.
Keeper of the Light was my fourth novel and I consider it the last one I wrote when I was not battling writer’s block. Since I’ve written seventeen books since then, that might sound crazy, but it’s true. You can read about my battle with writer’s block here, (as well as my lack of sympathy for anyone who gripes about it). I was married to my first husband (we’ll call him Homer, just because that sounds like a good name for an ex) back when I wrote Keeper of the Light. It was a charmed twenty-year marriage, or so it seemed to me. My husband and I loved the Outer Banks and he accompanied me on many a research trip there as I explored the setting for Keeper of the Light. I was working as a therapist at the time, but since my writing was becoming more and more time consuming, we’d decided I would terminate my private practice and I’d write full time. I wasn’t making much money as a writer yet, though, so we’d be quite dependent on my husband’s income and that was fine with him. He was my champion and biggest supporter.
I’d kept my dedication in Keeper of the Light a surprise from my husband, and when I received my author’s copies, I excitedly showed the dedication to him: To Homer, for remaining now and always, my very best friend. He didn’t react as happily as I’d expected. I found out why the very next day: He’d fallen for another woman, a story as old as humankind. He was obsessed with her and I was devastated. Utterly. Not to mention terrified about the fact that I’d now terminated my practice and would soon have to support myself on my writing income alone.
First things first: I scrambled to change the dedication. Then I began a life-altering grieving process, during which I made new and loving friends and discovered strength inside myself I never knew I had. I met and fell in love with a man who had a fourteen-year-old daughter (he also had seventeen- and twenty-year-old daughters too, but for now, I’ll just talk about the fourteen-year-old). My writing friends, familiar with the story of Keeper of the Light, began looking at me strangely. Hmm. I’d written a book about a woman, Olivia, whose husband Paul leaves her after becoming obsessed with a woman, Annie. Olivia then starts a relationship with Annie’s husband, Alec, who has a fourteen-year-old daughter. Could I have had some subconsious knowledge of the twists my real life was about to take as I wrote Keeper of the Light? No, I don’t believe that, but it was spooky and I’ve been careful with what I write about ever since! That fourteen-year-old and her sisters became my stepdaughters, and although I’m no longer married to their Dad, they (now well into their thirties) remain three of my most precious friends. The second bonus to the ugly turn my life seemed to have taken when my marriage crumbled? Keeper of the Light did very, very well, and for the first time I was well able to support myself as a writer. It’s a book that continues to give back to me and more importantly, to my readers, as they let me know how much they love it. I can’t wait to hear what my newer readers think about this evergreen story. I hope you all love it as much as I do!
(In a day or so, I’ll tell you the history of Keeper’s many covers. Stay tuned!)