Friday, August 7, 2009

SoCal Lit Scene: Author Pam Ripling on Lighthouses

SoCal Lit Scene focuses on all things literary in Southern California. Today I bring you a guest post from Southern California writer Pam Ripling

Living, Loving and Lighthouses

by Pam Ripling

Serendipity…a happy coincidence! That’s what I thought when I sat down to write this blog and realized that today, August, 7th, is National Lighthouse Day! Can you imagine my delight? The topic had been decided some weeks back, and happened to land on this calendar spot. Wow.

What is it about lighthouses that inspire me so? A single page cannot possibly describe it all, but here goes.

Protection. Guardianship. Strength. Getting right down to the heart of their purpose, lighthouses warn mariners of danger. They are a welcome sight day or night as they stand guard on the coastline.

Mystery. Loneliness. Whether perched on a cliff, planted in the sand or surrounded by surf, these lonely beacons stand for isolation. It takes a special personality to live apart and separated from the masses. Mysterious because isolation brings out the weird in people.

Romance. Intrigue. There’s just something about climbing those stairs, anticipatory, anxious, finally reaching the lantern room and looking out upon the entire world. Walking around the gallery and feeling the brisk, salt air against your face. What better place to share with a paramour?

History. The past. Owing to all of the above, lighthouses are the ancients among today’s architecture, filled with a rich history of triumph and tragedy. Lighthouse lore swirls with tantalizing tales of murder, suicide, devastating accidents and even infidelity. Who’s not heard frequent references to haunted lighthouses?

Readers and writers alike will see the huge potential for a good story. I did, and so began my work on POINT SURRENDER. A mythical, abandoned lighthouse on the northern California coast, Point Surrender has seen love, hate, jealousy and entirely too much death. You see, its last keeper has been dead for over 25 years. Will the journal he left reveal why he died in the mysterious old lighthouse, and what became of his missing family? (Cue eerie music here.)

I knew my story. Knew how it would begin, progress and end, and yet I faltered about 3/4ths of the way through. Another serendipitous thing happened—I was invited to spend a few days inside of a lighthouse, and you can bet I had laptop in tow. Dimick Lighthouse in Port Townsend, Washington, became my home and just the place to coax out my reluctant muse. The next thing I knew, I was headed back to California with a completed manuscript, reddened eyes and sore fingertips!

For the cover, my ingenious publisher and creative cover artist collaborated over a beautiful photograph of Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon. I couldn’t have been more delighted as this was the very lighthouse was the original inspiration for Point Surrender!

Maybe it’s just me (and a few thousand other lighthouse enthusiasts), but I feel the romance, the history, the sometimes palpable presence of the past when I enter a lighthouse. My mind conjures images of keepers, families, Coast Guardsmen, rogues and pirates. I see what they saw when I peer out at the vast expanse of water. One thing I have not done that I would like to do is visit one of these active beacons during the night. Likely scare myself to death, I would!

Next up for me is CAPE SEDUCTION, which takes place in an off-shore lighthouse, both in present day and in the late 1940’s. Water-locked light stations are a whole ‘nuther breed, and I needed to delve deeply into new research for this book. Like POINT SURRENDER, this novel spans the genres of mystery, romance and the paranormal. Look for it from Echelon Press this winter.

It doesn’t have to be National Lighthouse Day in order for you to visit one of the 665+ U.S. lighthouses. But a word of warning: you could get hooked on living and loving lighthouses!

Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is the author of paranormal romantic mystery, POINT SURRENDER, from Echelon Press, Amazon, and for your Kindle, iPhone or other e-formats, Fictionwise. Visit Anne at

Pam is currently on a blog tour! You can visit her tomorrow at Nick Valentino's blog where she writes about eBooks.



Heidenkind said...

I visited a lighthouse in Oregon just a couple of days ago while I was on vacation. I don't think it was very romantic to actually BE a lighthouse attendant during the early 20th century, but it's certainly romantic to read about them and visit them now. :) The lighthouse we visited even had a B&B in the caretaker's cottage.

Legendary Lights said...

Sounds like that may have been Heceta Head, the beautiful cliff-hugging lighthouse I mentioned in my blog and the one on the cover of my book?

Thanks to Amy for hosting me today! And BTW, my next blog stop at Nick's site is on Monday, 8/10, not tomorrow as I mistakenly told Amy!


bermudaonion said...

This is a great guest post. I'm trying to remember, but I think I've only been in 3 lighthouses and 1 of those is in Bermuda. Sounds like I need to explore more!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I am SO going to get this book - going to chase it down on my Kindle. Our family (with me in the lead) loves lighthouses. We have hunted down many in Florida. One in particular, called the Cape St. George Lighthouse, in the panhandle, collapsed a few years ago from hurricane damage. It was located on an uninhabited island. A loving group of people reconstructed it on St. George Island, and opened its doors when we were there last Thanksgiving. It almost made me cry! The cool thing is that we SAW Cape St. George LH before it fell. Years ago we hired our favorite hippy captain to take us over there in his boat. I get emotional just thinking about how lucky we were to see it. Lighthouses are everything listed in this post, and I couldn't have said it better.

Beth F said...

Great post, Pam. I remember some of those Oregon lighthouses (I lived in Eugene for a couple of years) -- and I grew up on the Great Lakes, which also have lighthouses.

It's been fun following you around this week. Thanks, Amy, for hosting.

caite said...

oh, I share your love of lighthouses and your joy on celebrating National Lighthouse Day! Now, I must say I am partial to our lovely east coast lights, and have a collage of some photos I have taken of a few, but I am sure your west coast ones are very nice too. ;-)

There is something addictive about them. Yes, the history, the mystery, the beauty...

Mary Cunningham said...

There's just something romantic, mysterious and haunting about lighthouses. And, you wrap your stories perfectly around them, Anne.

Great post!


Teresa Burrell, Author, Attorney, Advocate said...

Pam, great article. I'm in Maine...lighthouses galore here. I just visited the Rockport Breakwater Lighthouse for the first time. It's at the end of a one mile walk on a granite breakwater. Delightful experience. And of course I never visit Maine without a trip to Portland Head Light with all its incredible history.

Thanks for sharing your interest.

Craig Morrison said...

Thanks for your lighthouse plug!

Craig Morrison
Execution Rocks Lighthouse

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