Windchimes swung in the background. A gentle wind hummed. Fingers picked the tinny strings of an acoustic guitar, one at a time cascading into a tender melody.
“Belief in the breeze
The smoky morning haze
The sun on her face
and the touch of lovers' hands
The pain that comes today
Is here, then goes away
And we are homeward bound
I want this more than life…”
Whitley’s version of the song, “More Than Life,” brought Saylor and Tucker into my mind, sitting on a porch swing, watching the sun set.
The two characters have stayed with me over the years, as I have traversed their roads, through wet marshes, muddy mountain trails, and the wilds of the Australian outback. What would they be doing right now, I’d ask myself. The hard part about meeting characters and following their stories is that they stay with you, real as friends. Their lives influenced mine. Their stories shaped mine. So in that smoky morning haze, in the golden, setting sun, what would they be doing, I’d revisit the question in my memory.
Would Saylor ever be satisfied with her ending?
What would she want more than life?
And from the ashes of broken dreams, from the depths of dark nights, of agony, of restlessness, of inability to wait with inaction, the story of EARTHSHINE came to be. Could a girl who’s “done the hard thing” once more rise to the occasion? You see, there is not just one “hard thing” to face in life. There will be one, then another, and another. Each time more difficult, each time more unhinged and chaotic, each time drawing the protagonist further into the hero position. What would Saylor do when asked to face her greatest fears, knowing they are real?
I wasn’t ready to write EARTHSHINE when the words began spilling out. It began with another title – Deadlight.
Halfway through, exploring the theme and tone brought on by the title “dead-light” generated, the word no longer fit. Is death the finale? While it served as an intriguing vocabulary word, no, it didn’t fit with Saylor and Tucker’s story. Theirs is a story of perseverance, of love, of hope. Of reflection. Of audacity. Of moxie. Of grit. One morning as I began to wrap up the final chapters on my manuscript, my “Word of the Day” email popped into my inbox. The term, “earthshine,” lit up my screen. In fact, it lit up my eyes from its first appearance, because earthshine means…well...I suppose you’ll have to read the book to find out.
I hope you will.
I hope you enjoy the story that had to be written.
I hope you may also get back up, once your heart has broken.
I hope you will be the one who shows up, builds up, and believes.
May you be the light, shining into the abyss. May you be someone’s Earthshine.
Earthshine releases in three weeks, on October 9th. Happy reading.
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