Australian Writer Stephen B. King makes a return visit to talk about his newest release. Stephen has been on my blog before talking about his psychological thrillers, but this time it's a romantic suspense. WINTER AT THE LIGHT takes place in 1952 on the shores of Western Australia. This looks like an exciting read. Welcome once again, Stephen!
A bit of a Biography, and how did I get to Winter at the Light?
I have eleven books published, and Winter at the Light will be number twelve. I won several short story competitions, published poetry and wrote music and lyrics in my long-haired rock band days as a guitarist, so I have been telling stories most of my, what seems like, very long life.
Winter at the Light is my latest release with my wonderful publisher, The Wild Rose Press of NY. For my first book, Forever Night I was contracted to a UK publisher who shall remain nameless. Before publication that publisher was bought out and the new owners (one of the big four) cancelled the line I was contracted to, which left me in publishing wilderness for a while.
I self-published my next four books until two years later, I signed with The Wild Rose Press to publish Thirty-Three Days. I followed up that with the Deadly Glimpses Trilogy and soon the trilogy will comprise five books – who knew you could do that? I wrote Winter at the Light, while simultaneously completing the fourth Glimpse book, titled Glimpse, the Angel Shot. Two more different tales you could never read.
“How do you find time to write?” Is one of the questions asked of me frequently, my answer is always that it’s easy to find time to do what you love the most.
Another question I’m asked is: “How can you write stories so diametrically opposed such as a serial killer rampage trilogy on the one hand, and a historical romantic suspense story like Winter at the Light, on the other.” Well, I suffer from random though syndrome. I might be driving along, watching a movie, gardening or something, and a weird thought will creep into my conscious mind. When I explore that thought, it sometimes turns into the beginnings of a story. In this case the random thought was: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Expanding that thought further led to this book being written, and I have to say, without a hint of bias, I love it.
I believe any author worth his, or her, salt, should be able to tell a tale in any genre he, or she, is inspired to write. As my more famous namesake once said: ‘It is the tale, not he who tells it.’ Winter at the Light took me way out of my writing comfort zone for a few reasons, and I loved being there.
I had to do some research. Now, hang on, I hear you say, I do research for all of my books. That’s true, but not like this. Firstly, the era, WATL is set in 1952, and Molly my protagonist was a nurse, so I had to study hospital life for nurses in that time. Next: lighthouses and the equipment they had to use before modernization. I had previously visited the Cape Leeuwen Light in Augusta, Western Australia, built in 1895 and is the tallest in mainland Australia and had been fascinated. I gained enormous respect for keepers in days gone by.
Finally, I am a man, and I wanted to tell a story from Molly’s perspective and I was desperate to be true to her thoughts and feelings, and not how a man thought she would think and feel. Did I get that right? I promise you I worked hard at it and had five female beta readers go through it and listened to their critique. They were very complimentary and was validated and delighted to recently receive this review from a female reviewer for Reader’s Favorite, Susan Sewell. In part she said this:
Set on a lonely and isolated island, Winter at the Light by Stephen B. King is a thrilling suspense novel. It is an excellent story containing engaging characters, an intriguing plot, and a captivating storyline. Of all the characters, Molly is my favorite. With natural human qualities, her persona is superbly developed. Despite her fear and naiveté, Molly's will to survive and her inherent strength and courage add an admirable and authentic facet to her character. It is a captivating novel that is sure to satisfy those who love a great suspense story infused with intrigue and an element of danger. I recommend it to everyone who loves a good story with a strong female protagonist. Phew, thank you so much Susan.
“So, who is Molly and what is she about?” Great question, drag over a chair and let me tell you about one of my most favorite female characters I’ve ever created. Molly is twenty years old. Not unattractive, but as she says, she is not one of the beautiful ones, like some of her nurse friends she works with. She is a freckle faced red head who can never get her hair right. Even though she wears it up there is always errant strands falling down over her face.
Her mother was killed in an air raid during the war, while her father, a Chief Medical Officer in a naval convoy which was sunk by a German U-Boat. He was rescued to the news of his wife’s death and he was permitted to resign his commission to work in a British Naval Hospital and raise Molly. After the war they migrated to Australia, and the bond between father and daughter was strengthened because of it.
Molly wants to follow in her father’s footsteps into medicine, but after the war, women going into medical school wasn’t easy, so she became a nurse instead. Molly is sassy, strong willed, doesn’t suffer fools, and has a temper typical of a redhead. She adores her father, and when he leaves the medical field to run a lighthouse so he can find time to write the memoirs of his wartime experiences, she misses him terribly. He injures himself badly and needs to go to hospital and Molly knows she cannot refuse to mind the light for him until he is well enough to return.
Molly is frightened of being alone on a tiny island, many miles off the coast for three months, but can’t refuse else her father will lose the job he loves so much. She must find courage and inner strength as she fears she will go mad with boredom. Molly discovers a lot about herself and finds peace in her solitude, and an appreciation of her own company. But, just when she thinks all will be okay, the storm of the decade arrives and brings with it a man who will bring romance and danger to her. Molly must fight to survive, alone on a tiny island in the middle of a reef, twenty miles off the coast.
Winter at the Light blurb:
Forbes Lighthouse is a dangerous place. Twenty-year-old Molly McLaren agrees to tend the light when her father breaks his leg, so she leaves behind the city and her nursing career. Molly dreads the thought of three months as the sole inhabitant on the tiny island, nineteen nautical miles off the rugged coastline of Augusta in Western Australia.
Molly discovers she enjoys the solitude, and when a massive storm arrives bringing a life raft, Molly risks her life to save the unconscious man inside. On waking, he says he has lost his memory but as Molly nurses him back to health she wonders if he has. When the storm finally clears, Molly has fallen for the man she's nicknamed John, but still has doubts about his honesty.
The real danger arrives with two men who are searching for her mystery man. They want to kill him and anyone else who can identify them, and Molly quickly learns; on a lighthouse, there is nowhere to hide.
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Buy link: Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ie7gG2
Molly reached the rocky shore, where waves as tall as she was crashed at its edge and shot up shards of white foam spray to be flung in her face by the wind. The life raft ducked and dived only a few yards away and was coming closer by the minute. She propped the medical bag between two large boulders, determined to keep it from being washed away in the angry surf, then wondered what she could do next.
The dinghy’s opening in the tent-like awning faced away from her, no doubt acting as a wind tunnel, which helped drive the boat ahead of it, but that meant she still had no idea if anyone was inside or not. She cupped her hands around her mouth. “Hello, is anyone there?” she screamed, trying to be heard above the howling wind, but she feared she wasn’t.
There was nothing, no sound or movement from within, but the boat was coming closer, and she had to decide what she would do when it hit the rocks at her feet. Try to grab it and pull it ashore, I suppose, then look inside the damn thing.
“C’mon little boat, you’ve made it this far, don’t fail me now,” Molly murmured.
The next moment the rounded bow hit a protruding rock, and the wind driving from the rear nearly tipped it end over end. Without a thought for herself, Molly took five steps into the icy cold waves and grabbed the ropes strung along the side. She tried to pull it into safety. “If anyone is in there, get out, I can’t hold this forever,” she screamed, as loudly as she had ever shouted in her life.