A young woman stands on the brink of a high cliff overlooking the sea, arms wide open as if to let the wind carry her over. She has run away from home to this wild, beautiful place to make a decision that is, for her, truly a matter of life and death.
Sarah is pursued by Jack, her distraught husband, who is desperate to find her on these hills before it is too late. Will he make it in time?
Volunteers on the cliff edge patrol for people to save, but the number of men and women going over has ominously increased of late . . .
Does the secret lie with the Keeper who lives alone in the old lighthouse, a few steps from the four hundred foot drop in this gorgeous, terrifying place? The radiance has gone from his llife, but we do not know how or why.
1. Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?
Always. You’re never alone with a book. We define ourselves by the stories we tell, as The Light Keeper says. That’s true of the stories we consume too. Lately, on the saily permitted walks in lockdown, I have been racing through audio books.
2. If someone asked if they can use your name in a book, would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?
Oh, the bad one every time. Why? Think of Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in that dodgy movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. If you haven’t seen it, look it up. That’s why!
3. Where can I find you when you are reading?
Anywhere! On the sofa, in the garden, in the battered old armchair in my study, on the train, on the loo. Not driving, though. I draw the line at that.
4. Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?
Down on the beach near my home, staring out to sea. Or up on the South Downs and the high cliffs around Beachy Head where The Light Keeper is set, doing the same.
5. Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?
We all know that pull, don’t we? “I’ve got too many books. I haven’t read them all. I can’t possibly get another one. I’ll just pop inside for a look …” So, no. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford books and they still feel like a delicious thing to have. But when I was growing up, we didn’t have much money for books. I am hugely grateful for the influence the local library had on my life, as a store of free stories and a portal to another world. That’s happening right now for other kids who are in the situation I was. Let’s keep our libraries open.
6. What are you most proud of?
My kids. Jacob, Ruby, Joshua and Grace. They’re all adults now and fine people. Nothing I have written or achieved compares to the privilege of being their Dad.
7. What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?
Relief. We got there, it’s out. Satisfaction. Then a question: what does it smell like? Yes, I’ll let you into a secret, when I get my new book I always riffle the pages and sniff the air that is released. It’s a wonderful moment.
8. What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write something down. If you want to be a writer, you’ve got to start writing and then keep writing, even if you feel it’s no good. Pretty soon your page won’t be blank any more, so that terror will be gone. Revision is easier than the first draft, I find. The difference between writers and people who want to be writers is that writers write. Sounds so obvious, but there it is. If you want something a little more profound, a very long time ago I asked a poet critic called Donald Davie for his advice to the young writer and he told me: “If you can do anything else, do that. If you can’t do anything else – if this is all you want to do or all you can do – then you’ll probably be fine.”
9. Who would you like/have liked to interview?
I’ve interviewed a lot of very famous people, from politicians to pop stars and from activists to living legends, it’s what I do for my day job. I was due to interview Desmond Tutu, a man I greatly admire for his resistance to apartheid, about twenty years ago in Israel. We were going to travel together to Jerusalem, which would take a couple of hours. I got in the back seat of the car beside the great man, but unfortunately his aides had not told him this was happening. All he saw was a six foot five blonde stranger blocking out the light and I think he thought it was an assassination attempt, which was not out of the question, so he began to scream. The aides pulled me out and the car sped off. Shame. I wish I could have talked to him.
10. When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer my study, which is also the spare bedroom so I can have a lie down if I want. Words come quickly after a bit of a nap. I like loud music to get me going then absolute silence when I am writing. But I’ll write anywhere, any time. If you wake in the middle of the night suddenly knowing how a piece of dialogue should go or what a character’s motivation really is and you get up to write it down because you know it will be lost otherwise – even though it’s four in the morning and you’ve got to get up for work at six – then you’re a writer. That’s what it takes. Happy writing!
Thank you, Cole Moreton and Rhoda
About the author
Cole Moreton is a writer and broadcaster exploring who we are and what we believe in. His BBC Radio 4 series The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away won multiple awards including Best Documentary in the BBC Radio Awards, Best Writing at the World’s Best Radio Awards in New York and gold for Audio Moment of the Year at the Arias.
Cole writes for the Mail on Sunday and was named Interviewer of the Year at the Press Awards 2016, then shortlisted again in 2018. His work has appeared in the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, and many other.
The first of Cole’s non-fiction books was Hungry For Home: A Journey To America From The Edge Of Ireland and published by Viking in 2000. This combination of journalism, travelogue and dramatised true events told the story of the evacuation of the Great Blasket Island in County Kerry and followed the journey taken by the islanders to new lives in the United States. It was shortlisted for the prestigious John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for a first book in any genre.
His second book was called My Father Was A Hero (Viking) and told the story of the men and women who returned home to London after WW2 but could not handle peace time. His third book Is God Still An Englishman? How Britain Lost Its Faith (But Found New Soul) was published by Little, Brown. It explores the dramatic changes in British culture and spirituality over the last 30 years and celebrates the possibilities for the future.
His fourth book was a retelling of the story of The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away for HarperCollins. His debut novel The Light Keeper will be published in August 2019.