Raven Koynes is a woman in hiding. Years ago she escaped to remote Gull Island Light Station, nestled far away in Lake Superior. She has carved out a life of peace and solitude for herself. Until famed nature photographer Sebastian Knight arrives--in the height of a nor'easter storm--to document the beauty of Gull Island. Unsavory treasure hunters also blow in with the storm, determined to find missing cargo from a sunken ship. And they are positive Raven knows where it's stashed. A power outage from the storm traps everyone at her keeper's cottage, fellow prisoners of the storm.
Between her attraction to handsome Sebastian and the unwelcome advances and threats of the hunters, Raven is pushed to her limit. Help arrives in the form of a stray German Shepherd Dog, who takes an immediate protective interest in Raven. He becomes her constant shadow and listening ear as she sorts out her growing--and conflicting--feelings for Sebastian.
Meanwhile, Sebastian came to the island looking for treasure as well, in the form of photographs. While he isn't so sure about missing cargo, he only needs to look at Raven Koynes to know he's found his own valuable treasure. One he hopes he can hang on to if she learns about his mysterious secret.
Now that Madeline the resident ghost has found out, it's probably just a matter of time until Raven does too. And with the storm and power outage, no one is going anywhere any time soon.
What is your full name? And what can you tell us about yourself?
Madeline Jane Bissette. I am seventeen years old, born August 1854 and died February 1871.
Did you just say you died in 1871?
Yes, my youngster sister, Constance, and I were playing up in the light tower. Papa used to get angry with us, but sometimes we didn't care. It was a beautiful day to be up there. Mama had wanted me to milk the cow as my brother, Jacob, who usually handled that, had gone off with Papa and my other brothers to gather more wood. It had been an especially hard winter. It must have been getting late as we heard Mama come out calling for us. Constance raced for the stairs, slipping on the ice on the widow's walk. I grabbed her, but slipped too. She did manage to grab the railing, but I hit an icy section and fell over the edge. (dusts off hem of gown) And that was that.
Yes,...er...I suppose it would be. How tragic. So what have you done since then? Since 1871? It has been a while.
Mainly I just stay out of the way. The people who have come and gone at the house don't interest me much. Not anymore. I like the one who calls herself Raven. She reminds me a lot of Mama. I tried to be her friend and tell her about my mama and sisters, but I don't think she really understood.
What are your thoughts on Sebastian?
He is a handsome man. (smiles wistfully) Chester Douglas—he used come over sometimes from the mainland to help Papa—was handsome like that. When I was younger, he'd bring me penny candy. Then one summer he brought me flowers. Papa wasn't too happy about that, but Mama said it was all right. Then Chester started finding all sorts of reasons to come over that had nothing to do with Papa. (giggles) He'd make my tummy feel like it had butterflies all inside of it. Mama said that was all right for a boy to do. We'd go off into the woods or behind the barn and kiss. After Sebastian arrived, I could tell Raven wanted to kiss him just as I used to like kissing Chester. Sebastian made my tummy feel like it had butterflies in it, even though he was older than Chester, and I could tell Raven felt the same way. And he protected her from those bad people. He tried to at least, doing the best he could.
Yes, Madeline, tell us about the bad people.
Well, they were not the first people to come to Gull Island with bad intentions. Mama had a word for people like that: miscreant malefactors. Mama always liked to use two names for describing people. It was sad and lonely when she and Papa and my sisters and brothers all left our home and Gull Island later in 1871.
However, when these three showed up looking for the ship's cargo by tearing up my island home and getting nasty with Raven, I knew I had to get involved. Sebastian had his own ideas on keeping Raven safe, so I was just helping him actually. Letting him know I was in his corner. (gives big sigh) But I'm not sure he understood that. As much as I liked Raven and Sebastian, I never felt they really understood me. Not until later on, when I really had to work to get their understanding. (gives another wistful sigh) Sometimes adults can be so...dim at times.
Okay, Madeline, our time is closing out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts today. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just this—it's lonely being what I am; ghost, spook or any of the other names I've been called. I would have liked to spend more time with Chester and maybe take a picnic or boat ride off the island one day. But I never had that chance. (pauses, with somber, faraway expression) I imagine being with someone all the time that made those butterflies in your tummy would be a lovely experience. That is my wish now, for everyone to find that special person, like my Chester, who puts those tickly feelings there and makes you want to smile all the time, and spend their life with them.
Well said, Madeline, and thank you.
Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina author who specializes in writing romances with a twist. Love stories blended with inspirational, paranormal, suspense or time travel—or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Ryan's dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so she claims she came by her writing skill honestly. Apparently it's in the genes.
Her hobbies include bird-watching, houseplants, poetry and yard work. She loves to gather with friends, hike in the forest with her dog, paint ceramics and canvas, and work on wiggly word find puzzles. She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. Living in the mountains, she dreams of the shore and frequently uses the water as scenes for her stories. More about Ryan Jo can be discovered at her website or her blog.
What inspired you to write this story?
In 1989 I found a photo in a calendar that resonated with me. It was just a rocky outcropping with an old tree and lots of fog. It was probably taken in the fall, around Minnesota or someplace on the Great Lakes. I still have that photo, matted and framed. Eleven years ago I moved from the Great Lakes to the mountains and yearn for the water. Inspired by that photo, this book was written, over years, in stages, with new parts added with each rewrite. The treasure hunt was added last, about 2 or 3 years ago after I spotted a van at a stop light reading Coynes Plumbing on the side. Koynes=treasure. So the heroine's last name was changed to incorporate the treasure idea.
What are you working on now?
My problem child that I've been working on steadily for two years. It's a whole lot of things, or as I refer to it, a hot mess, Romance, quantum fiction, women's lit. The other thing I am itching to start is a short novella about meeting and falling in love at a dog park. It's going to be a humorous short story.
Up early (I have pets, there is no sleeping in with hungry beasties), work on writing stuff/marketing stuff until early afternoon, then go to "day job," which is a second shift thing. Come home, catch up on emails from the day and things that require immediate attention. Repeat next day. Not a lot of variety in my life, which is okay. For a change of pace, I take my dog to the dog park or go see friends.
Personal question—favorite music?
Lots of stuff. Country, old stuff and traditional mostly, Christian. Orchestra. Jazz is okay too. Old rock on occasion. I don't care for rap or head-banging screaming stuff.
Coffee. Herbal tea when it's cold out. Milk, especially chocolate.
Favorite flower and color?
Lilacs and blue. Three of the rooms in my house are painted shades of blue. And I have several lilacs planted about the place.
Thanks again, Ryan Jo, for being my guest today! Remember, one lucky commenter will win a pdf copy of the book. So don't forget to say hi!