HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, HAZEL GAYNOR!
Today’s #TalkTuesday interview is also our #TeaserTuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, all of which feature The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor . A joint effort by Elise and I! Enjoy!
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The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor explores relationships, some tragic and some hopeful. This historical novel, inspired by true events, is a gripping story about the extraordinary female lighthouse keepers who lived one hundred years apart.
Readers first see the real-life heroine Grace Darling who in 1838 in Northumberland, England at the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands rescued shipwreck survivors in a furious storm along with her father. This twenty-two year old woman became thrown into England’s national limelight, the subject of newspaper articles, poems, ballads, and plays. At the time, it was unheard of for a woman to be involved in such a rescue. They did reach a number of survivors, eventually bringing them to safety but the memory of what they saw and experienced was forever etched in their consciousness. What came out of the fame was the renewal of the friendship that had developed between Grace and a visiting artist, George Emmerson, who captured her with his brushes and in his heart.
Fast-forward one hundred years to another lighthouse, this one in Newport Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old, pregnant, and unmarried, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay until her baby is born, with Harriet Flaherty, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper. Tired of sitting around Matilda finds a chest full of documents of her families past that includes a half-finished discarded portrait, which opens a window into Matilda’s family history.
Although one hundred years apart both stories are one of heartache and inspiration. These three strong women are gutsy, courageous and brave.
Elise Cooper: How did you come across Grace Darling?
Hazel Gaynor: It originated with the real-life person. I learned about her in school as a young girl and was fascinated by her. I really wanted to tell her story. I wanted to step into her heels to understand how she felt after she was catapulted into the public eye. Then I read about Ida Lewis, also a light house keeper off of Rhode Island, who was known as the American Grace Darling. There was this incredible historic connection.
EC: Did you ever visit any lighthouses?
HG: I took a boat to the Lighthouse and the island Grace lived on. It made me realize how remote her life was and how she lived under cramped conditions. I also stayed at a lighthouse in Ireland with my husband and children. It is no longer a working lighthouse, but has been set up for people to stay in this 200-year-old structure. It was quite the experience, having to climb 190 steps from the bottom to the bedrooms that came off a spiral staircase. There was no Wi-Fi and we were surrounded by nature, the country side, and the sea. I found it quite an emotional experience.
EC: How would you describe Grace?
HG: Amazing, complex, clever, vibrant, brave, and courageous. She was an earnest devoted daughter. The duty she had with the lighthouse conflicted with the human emotions of a young woman falling in love. Being thrown into the public spotlight was something she felt very uncomfortable with. She could not handle the pressure, essentially being elevated into this Saintly woman.
EC: Did you stick to all the facts surrounding Grace?
HG: Yes, including Sarah Dawson who was saved by Grace and her father, but not her children who did die on the rocks. Although I developed the artist because there are only sketchy details. George Emmerson is my fictional interpretation of that relationship. I obviously imagined how Grace and George would interact. As a novelist, I drew out the different relationships, what their life was like, and what happened.
EC: There is some heartache to this story?
HG: We scramble for the happily ever after but there isn’t always one. As an author, I also struggle with giving my characters a happily ever after. We do lose people in our lives and must deal with the real human experience of grief.
EC: How would you describe Matilda?
HG: Independent, rebellious, and brave. She did not follow what society expected of her and in the end knew she had to stand on her own two feet. She was a young Irish woman who came to America to find a new life for herself. Even though she lived one hundred years after Grace, she still struggled with having a say over her life. While Grace felt isolated, Matilda felt it very freeing. It is easier for her to shake off the social norms, able to make more choices than Grace.
EC: Was the lighthouse a character in the story?
HG: Yes. It is strong, immovable, and permanent. Bantered by the elements it tries to keep people safe. As I wrote in the book, it has the company of the “birds and the sea, with the wild winter winds and temperate summers.’ Grace was connected to the lighthouse, having a relationship of sorts because her life was rooted in this place.
EC: How would you describe Harriett?
HG: A whiskey drinking, pipe smoking, grumpy, grouchy Tom-boy. She is resilient, tough, yet hides behind this toughness with a vulnerability. Her story is centered around the 1938 hurricane, and the role of light keepers. They must burn the light brightly, but it also their duty to go to the rescue of those in distress. She took her job seriously and was proud to help keep ships away from the rocks.
EC: What role does the weather play?
HG: A very dangerous storm was the catalyst that would change the direction of Grace Darling’s life. The storm spiraled Grace’s notoriety. People can hear the wind and feel it shaking the lighthouse, with waves pounding in a very dramatic way.
EC: What about the cameo locket?
HG: I write in all my books about family connections. It is a theme of sorts. In this story, it unlocks the real story of Matilda’s family. It represents a legacy of something physical passing down from one member of the family to another. It is something substantial yet quite a delicate connection of passing on a story of what was important to our ancestors’ life.
EC: A shout out about your next book?
HG: I am writing a book co-authored with Heather Webb. The title is Meet Me In Monaco and it will be published in July 2019. It is inspired by the wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
1838: Northumberland, England. Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands has been Grace Darling’s home for all of her twenty-two years. When she and her father rescue shipwreck survivors in a furious storm, Grace becomes celebrated throughout England, the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. But far more precious than her unsought fame is the friendship that develops between Grace and a visiting artist. Just as George Emmerson captures Grace with his brushes, she in turn captures his heart.
1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old and pregnant, Matilda Emmerson has been sent away from Ireland in disgrace. She is to stay with Harriet, a reclusive relative and assistant lighthouse keeper, until her baby is born. A discarded, half-finished portrait opens a window into Matilda’s family history. As a deadly hurricane approaches, two women, living a century apart, will be linked forever by their instinctive acts of courage and love.
First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
Every Tuesday Vicki @ I’d Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
Looking forward to visiting your blogs and seeing what your Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, are this week!
Luv Sassy x