The Many Faces of Keeper of the Light

In celebration of Keeper of the Light’s reissue, I thought I’d share some of its many covers, starting with (gulp) the original. This cover never made it to the bookstore because my agent and I both screamed so loudly when we saw it that the art department at HarperCollins cowered in fear. Keeper of the Light is the story (in part) of Annie O’Neill, who dies in chapter one. Annie is a larger-than-life character. She’s a stained glass artist and a free-spirited do-gooder. Such a do-gooder, in fact, that she was known in the Outer Banks, NC community where she lived as “Saint Ann.” So I think the whole stained glass/saintly thing went to the artist’s head. Fortunately, the freaky little woman was removed, leaving behind the tasteful and moody hardcover jacket below for Keeper’s 1992 debut in the bookstores. This is a cover I still love.

About a year later, Keeper was released in paperback. HarperCollins went all out, and this cover was something special. I absolutely loved the die-cut of Annie on the front. Note the “money back guarantee.” I’d forgotten about that. This book sold extremely well, and I always thought it was because of the cover, but maybe it was that guarantee that did it!

So I was really, really happy when I saw this cover. . . until I opened it and saw the stepback:

A clinch cover! A bodice ripper! I was mortified at having a clinch on my cover because, while there is definitely a romance in the book, to me it was not the major thrust (er, so to speak) of the story. But in retrospect, this is a fairly amazing cover and as I mentioned before, it gained me lots of new readers. Plus, the Annie profile with her red hair and the stained glass peacock feather is just cool. 

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom took a more sedate approach to Keeper of the Light. The UK was about two decades ahead of the US in using photographs on its covers. I loved their Annie’s hair, and I think they caught just the right expression on her face. She’s saying “I may be beautiful and you may think I’m amazing, but you have no idea how screwed up I really am.”

Keeper of the Light was reissued once before by my current publisher, Mira Books. Ten years after its original publication, I was still hearing from readers who wanted to know what had become of the O’Neill family, so I decided to find out. I wrote two more books, Kiss River and Her Mother’s Shadow, visiting the O’Neills more than a decade after the events in Keeper of the Light, and what fun it was to figure out what had happened to them in the interim! But before those two books were published, it only made sense to bring Keeper out one more time so readers could get to know the family and its origin. Here’s the cover Mira used in the 2002 reissue.  Simple, but really pretty.

Now, we’re all caught up. I have to say the new 2011 cover is my favorite. It captures both Annie and the light. . . and something else. For those of you who’ve read the book, you might remember the significance of the red scarf she’s carrying. For those of you who haven’t, I hope you’ll take a chance and find out.


  1. Ann on March 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    What a great cover history – my copy is the 1992 edition. It is almost worn out but still readable and one of my all-time favorite books!!!!!

  2. Jo on March 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Wow! How styles have changed! My copy has a totally different cover. It’s a UK paperback edition, bought in 1993 at an English bookshop in Kenya, East Africa & eventually brought home to Canada. That’s where I first discovered your writing. It was a combination of the cover and the description on the back that made me purchase. I guess that shows the power of cover art 🙂

  3. Diane Chamberlain on March 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Jo, I think I have a copy of that book somewhere. I’ll have to check my foreign shelves. I have about a million Keeper covers in foreign languages, but they all have the lighthouse in common.

  4. Margo on March 31, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Diane, whenever you post the ‘what might have been’ cover for KEEPER, I shriek! I’m so happy they went with the version directly under that, which is the original hardcover that I own, and still remains my favorite. (-O:
    Ann, my copy is pretty worn too because I’ve read it so many times. I handle it very carefully now and as mentioned in the previous blog, ‘she’ has the spotlight on my bookshelf.
    I love the new cover but miss seeing Annie’s red hair.

  5. Laurie on March 31, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Love that freaky little woman!!! I actually don’t like her, but love your apt description!

  6. Diane Chamberlain on March 31, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Margo, the new cover above is actually the initial try–the cover in the stores is a little different in that her hair IS red, you can see all of her right arm, and the whole cover has more of a reddish, illuminated cast to it. I just didn’t have time to scan the final cover so you’ll have to check the stores to see it! It really took my breath away when I opened the box and that doesn’t happen often!

  7. Margo on March 31, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I’m really glad to hear that Diane!…our Border’s has closed so I wasn’t at a bookstore yesterday to see the new book…our book group will start going to Barnes & Noble next Wed which is our traditional book day and I will be sure and buy my new copy. I’m thrilled to know they made Annie’s hair red on the new cover…that’s the only way I imagine her.

  8. Diane Chamberlain on March 31, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I feel so sad about your Borders, Margo, and hope you can quickly form a happy new tradition at the B&N.

  9. Margo on March 31, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you Diane. It’s hard to say good-bye to the people at Border’s, and that’s what makes me feel sad…they are now out of a job. I’ve known some of the employees for more than 20 years…they are hard working, loyal people who were always there for us every Wednesday.
    Next Wed will be our first Barnes & Noble gathering…my friends don’t know it yet, but I’m arriving early and buying each of them the new edition of KEEPER OF THE LIGHT so we can start our new tradition properly. (-O:

  10. Diane Chamberlain on March 31, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    You sweetie! I hope the store carries enough for you.

  11. Margo on March 31, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    Diane, I called them today and they said they have plenty in stock on the front table…I think I will go out there Saturday and buy the number I need just to make sure I have enough for everyone…
    What could be a better way to start a new tradition for everyone, than giving them the gift of Diane Chamberlain and KEEPER OF THE LIGHT!
    I can’t wait to see Annie’s gorgeous red hair on the cover.

  12. Ann on March 31, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Margo that is such a nice treat for your friends! Our Borders is closing and I will really miss it. It is less than 2 miles from my house and has such a nice, friendly staff. I hate to see it go.

  13. Diane Chamberlain on March 31, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Oh, yay, I love the front table! Thanks for letting me know, Margo, and for letting me “hang out” with your friends.

  14. Margo on April 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Yep! They definitely told me FRONT TABLE!…Yeah!!…Diane, it will seem like you’re right there with us. (-O:
    Ann, I know what you mean…the people who work at Border’s are so nice. I hope you have another bookstore near you.

  15. Linda Young on April 9, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    I love the 2011 cover. It is definitely my favorite. I’m sorry to say I just learned about you today. I just got back into reading a couple years ago. I’m still playing catch up with all the new authors out there. I do have Keeper on my to be read list now. Can’t wait to read it. I would love to have this one for review.

  16. Wanda on April 10, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Now I have to find this book and read it. You have intrigued me.

  17. Diane Chamberlain on April 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I hope you find it and love it, Wanda. I honestly miss those characters.

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