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Friday, August 17, 2012

Australian historical the next big hit

Amazon August Spotlight leads the way

Spotlight Selection: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman

The Light Between Oceans
Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half day’s boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife Isabel decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple’s reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom--whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I--begins to waver. M. L. Stedman’s vivid characters, the gorgeous descriptions of the solitude of Janus Rock and of the unpredictable Australian frontier, create a perfect backdrop for the tale of longing, loss, and the overwhelming love for a child that is The Light Between Oceans

Breaking news is that The Light Between Oceans is going to debut at number 7 on the New York Times Hardcover Fiction bestseller list this weekend, with a showing at number 13 in the combined eBook and print fiction list.

The Light Between Oceans is also Library Journal editor Barbara Hoffert's top listing in her nine picks of must-read books. And the American Booksellers Association is joining in the general acclaimation, too, featuring Stedman's debut novel on its August Indie Next list.

So, who is M.L. Stedman?  Linda Morris of the Sydney Morning Herald found it surprisingly difficult to get the author to open up.

Her official biography comprises a single line: ''M.L. Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London.'' Even her first name, Margot, is concealed. As Linda Morris writes:

In only her second media interview, by phone from Perth, Stedman is nervous and bats back questions about her age, schooling, family and her work as a lawyer with a polite: ''I really don't want to answer that.'' Stedman later explains that she has never been one to seek out the limelight. ''As the book's not autobiographical, details of my life won't really shed light on the story for the reader and I'd much rather let readers focus on the book and their own experience of it.''

These are the dot points of her writing life that Stedman reluctantly offers for public consumption: raised and schooled in Perth, she says she always adored the artistry of words, had an affinity for them. Working in London as a lawyer in 1997, while staring at her office computer screen, she had a eureka moment, ''from God knows where'', deciding then to try creative writing. She hired a writing coach, went to Greece on a creative-writing holiday, where she wrote her first published short story, Flight, and went on to study creative writing part time at the University of London. Three novellas were published in an out-of-print anthology, Desperate Remedies, in 2008.

The Light Between Oceans began as a short story of 15,000 words whipped together in three months. After shopping it to an agent who told her it had the makings of a novel, Stedman began ''rolling the pastry, this way and that'', folding in archival research on lighthouse keepers and the bleakness of Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, which she visited to find living inspiration for Janus Rock.

Most days, Stedman would go to a corner of the British Library, with its green leatherback chairs and desk lamps, to ride her imagination to her homeland and carry back memories of the smell of eucalypts, the blinding slash of sunshine and the expressive cadence of the Australian vernacular.

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1 comment:

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