I’m absolutely thrilled to welcome Cole Moreton to stay in with me today. You see, Cole’s book The Light Keeper was one of my books of the year in 2019 and I reviewed it here, so actually having the opportunity to chat with Cole about the book feels like a real treat.
Cole Moreton will feature on Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday this week too.
Staying in with Cole Moreton
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Cole and thank you so much for staying in with me. I rather think I know, but which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?
I’ve brought The Light Keeper, which as you know is a story of love, hope, faith and longing set in a real life lighthouse on the edge of a four hundred foot cliff, near Beachy Head. The paperback came out in lockdown, so it is brand new. You were kind enough to say nice things about the book, for which many thanks, so I thought it would be rude not to bring it!
I wasn’t kind when I wrote my review Cole, just honest. I was just awestruck by The Light Keeper! So, for those who don’t know, what can we expect from an evening in with The Light Keeper?
Well I’ll hope to take you with me, in your head at least, to the stunning landscape of the South Downs, where the horizon is so wide you can see the curvature of the Earth. The story tackles some hard stuff, but I hope it is ultimately inspiring and uplifting. This is one of those magical places where it’s easy to get a sense of the divine, so anything might be possible.
I can vouch for that in your writing Cole.
Apart from introducing you to the characters of Sarah, Jack and the Keeper, I’ll let you into a few secrets about the history of the place. And as a surprise I’ve brought along a guitar and a friend, David Perry, who plays with me in a band. Together we wrote an album of readings from the book and songs inspired by the characters and stories, which is imaginatively called The Light Keeper by The Light Keepers if you want to look it up on Spotify, Apple Play or one of those places. So we will sing a few songs and invite you to sing along. How’s your singing voice, Linda? I’ve heard it might be pretty good.
I’m not sure who you’ve been speaking with but you’re very much mistaken! I think I’d better just listen unless you want to be responsible for damage to eardrums.
Actually, I’ve loved listening to the album. Tell me, what else have you brought along and why?
I’ve brought this photograph, which my father took when he was up walking on the cliff edge shortly after we moved here 16 years ago. It was the sight of the sunlight sparkling on the water that inspired the opening chapters of the book. “Fingers of light, reaching down through the clouds to stir the waters …”
What an atmospheric image and so in keeping with The Light Keeper.
We had triplets babies and a four year old, that was why we moved to this coastland, for more space and a better, more outdoor life for them.
So I’ve brought a picture of Ruby, Josh and Grace in their Moses basket.
I can quite see why you might need more space! Triplets and a four year old together must have been quite a challenge!
There’s a bottle of Long Blonde beer from the Long Man brewery, because the chalk figure of the Long Man is in the story.
Oh yes, I remember. Though I can imagine raising all those small children must have been thirsty work too…
And a selection of Sussex cheeses and pickles from the brilliant local produce shop at Middle Farm, just a few miles from the lighthouse.
Oo. You can come again Cole. I adore bread, cheese and pickles but rarely eat them because of the excess calories. I’ll make an exception today!
Thank you so much for staying in with me to chat all about The Light Keeper as it was one of the most affecting books I read in 2019. It’s been a pleasure finding out a bit more about it.
Thanks for having me, I really appreciate your support for The Light Keeper and for books in general, long may you thrive!
Thank you. Now, you pour a beer and serve up some cheeses and I’ll give blog readers the details they need about The Light Keeper:
The Light Keeper
Sarah stands on the brink, arms open wide as if to let the wind carry her away.
She’s come to the high cliffs to be alone, to face the truth about her life, to work out what to do.
Her lover Jack is searching, desperate to find her before it is too late. But Sarah doesn’t want to be found. Not yet. Not by him.
And someone else is seeking answers up here where the seabirds soar – a man known only as the Keeper, living in an old lighthouse right on the cusp of a four-hundred-foot drop. He is all too aware that sometimes love takes you to the edge . . .
The Light Keeper is published by SPCK imprint Marylebone House and is available for purchase here.
You can hear Cole being interviewed about The Light Keeper on Good Morning Sunday this week with Rev. Kate Bottley so don’t miss it!
About Cole Moreton
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 was published in August 2019.