Last spring, the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation contacted me and asked if I might be interested in writing a historical novel about the small, mansard-roofed lighthouse on Rose Island, a tiny 18-acre landmass halfway between Newport and Jamestown, Rhode Island. At the time I was trying to make a living at writing so, after exhausting all the funding opportunities I could think of, I spoke at the Foundation’s annual meeting last April and then we parted company, hoping to figure out a way to work together in the future. Then, a few months ago, I accepted a new “day job” as an architect and am once again free to write whatever I want to write. So, I got back in touch with the Lighthouse Foundation.
Although we don’t yet have all the contractual details fully worked out, I’ve begun to write the first book in a series about the Rose Island Lighthouse and the people who once lived there. And I have lots of help, too! My daughter, Julia, will use her considerable artistic talent to illustrate my stories. Michaela Fournier, a gifted graphic designer and friend, is going to design an awesome cover for the book and figure out how all the words and pictures look on the pages. My mother, Marilyn Harris, a retired teacher, has graciously agreed to provide us with all of the research assistance we need. My other daughter, Laura, has signed on to become our Internet/social media guru, updating this website and posting messages on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. And Colin, Chris, and Dave, three great friends I met in my Master’s program at Fairfield University, have kindly agreed to publish the first Lighthouse Book through their Connecticut-based publishing company. With a team like that, the book’s bound to be amazing!
Book One of the Rose Island Lighthouse Series will be about Wanton Chase, a boy who lived in the lighthouse with his grandparents from the time he was 18 months old until he had to go to school in Newport at age seven (1910 to 1917). His grandfather, Charles Curtis was the lighthouse keeper, serving at that post longer than anyone before or after him. Before he died at the age of 99, Wanton Chase wrote down his memories of life at the lighthouse, and I’ve taken those memories and expanded them into short stories. The book is composed of those short stories about Wanton interspersed with brief snippets of history about such subjects as the Rose Island Lighthouse, life in America in 1910, and the duties of a lighthouse keeper. It is written at a middle-grade level so that it will appeal to readers of all ages. And we plan to publish the book in hardcover as well as paperback so that everyone will be able to buy a copy. My publishing friends tell me if we complete the manuscript by September, the book will be available for purchase by early spring 2019.
Although copyright restrictions prevent me from posting excerpts from the new book online, I will post photos and articles about the Rose Island Lighthouse so that you can see why we are excited to write this book. And, beginning Memorial Day Weekend, the lighthouse is open for tours. So, if you happen to be looking for something fun to do this summer, take the Jamestown Ferry out to Rose Island and check out the lighthouse, beautifully restored by the folks of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation. And make sure to check back here to see new stories and postings about the lighthouse and about our upcoming book. See you then!