One miserable spring night, a tired, bitter, despairing old lighthouse keeper prepares to jump off the top of Lake Superior’s Devils Island Lighthouse. It seems the end for Owen McClatchy, but it’s the beginning, during a wondrous summer of 1928.
So begins The Lighthouse on Devils Island, a novel I self-published about a month ago. It’s a labor of love, different from the my three books about St. Louis published by Reedy Press. I’m thrilled to report that I’ll do a reading from the book at 7 p.m. August 13 at The Book House, 7352 Manchester Road in Maplewood. That’s across the street from the Shop ‘n Save in downtown Maplewood
I basically finished it in 2003 and put it aside on a pile marked “unpublished.” Now, after writing three books about St. Louis published by Reedy Press, I’ve tweaked it and brought it out. If you like lighthouses, if you like heartwarming yarns with happy/sad endings, The Lighthouse on Devils Island is for you.
Here’s a bit more about the book. No spoilers. Promise. The instrument of McClatchy’s redemption is most unexpected: new first assistant keeper Sam Brown and his family, just up from St. Louis. McClatchy sees Brown as incompetent, his wife as impertinent and his two kids as the devil underfoot. But by summer’s end, the Browns help McClatchy realize he hasn’t wasted his life on a lighthouse and enable him to jump into whatever life has for him.
Based on the real Devils Island Lighthouse in Lake Superior’s Apostle Islands archipelago, The Lighthouse on Devils Island is full of carefully-researched details about the drudgery, loneliness, beauty and heroism of a time and place when everything depended on keeping the light burning. The cover artwork is by Austin Miller, a terrific artist who lives in the Apostle Islands. It’s about a wonderful vacation spot, which Lorraine and I have visited for the last two decades.
I’m going to give more readings and more signings during the upcoming Apostle Islands Lighthouse Festival the first week of September. My favorite reading will come on Sept. 2, on a boat trip to Devils Island. That’ll be a dream come true.
If you can’t come to the lighthouse festival, my reading on Aug. 13 will be the next best thing. I’ll try to make it seem like you’re on a boat to Devils Island. I hope to see you soon.
To order an autographed copy, send a check for $17.25 made out to Jim Merkel to The Lighthouse on Devils Island, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116. As with all my books, I’m waiving the shipping fee. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.