by Kathleen Costa & Ellie Alexander
This week we have a review of a new stand alone novel by mystery author Ellie Alexander, Lost Coast Literary, and an interesting guest post by Ellie about writing the book. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a signed copy of Lost Coast Literary, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Lost Coast Literary A Novel by Ellie Alexander
Review by Kathleen Costa
“Getting lost in a book means finding yourself.”
Emily Bryant is excited about pitching her first book at a major New York publishing house. Growing up she loved editing her favorite books making notes and even suggesting new endings, so it’s a dream come true. However, her boss has dashed her hopes: Pass. Maybe next time. Could the day get any worse? She’s been ignoring calls from her estranged uncle, so he decided to give her the bad news via text. Her grandmother Gertrude has died and the will, in which Emily is prominently mentioned, requires she come home. Home? She hasn’t been back home for twenty years, and the idea of trying to get her dad to go home, too, was a bridge too far. But, her boss gives her the time to sort out the family issues, along, of course, with a stack of reader’s reports to complete.
Home is the remote community of Cascata situated between the redwood forests and marshy lowlands of Northern California, and on the cliff is The Ballad, a near centuries and half old Victorian that is now Emily’s, one of many surprises with which Emily struggles. Her grandmother was also an editor, more old-school than Emily, and her business, the Lost Coast Literary, is also part of the inherited package. All will be hers to do with what she chooses, the pub will go to her uncle, and other trinkets will go to her cousins and more, but the codicil states only if she spends the time editing her grandmother’s “forsaken” manuscripts…What?
Lost Coast Literary Earns 5/5 Manuscripts…Clever & Entertaining!
Emily finds a trunk containing four “forsaken” manuscripts, but there are no guidelines providing Emily with any direction. She’s a professional, so she reads a bit, writes down some comments, a suggestion or two, or an insight for improvement using one of the many pens available on Gertrude’s desk. Simple, she’ll be done soon, sell the property, and back to life in New York…not so fast. While in town, set to talk more with her uncle, Emily sees a woman, recognizes a name tag, and hears a conversation that all seem eerily familiar to the notes she’d made on a couple of the “forsaken” pages. Coincidence. Mental breakdown. No, she is somehow effecting people’s lives with her words. Is this a good thing? Can she provide the ‘nudge’ a person needs to move forward? Or is this a curse that makes her responsible for someone’s happiness?
A Mighty [Purple] Pen! Ellie Alexander’s clever premise reminded me in some ways of the 2006 movie Stranger Than Fiction where the line between writing and reality is very blurred and the author’s dilemma is when fiction becomes…real. For Emily, her dilemma is that any “power” wielded for good, of course, is equaled by bad. She discovers she needs to apply her edits for the long haul, some themes in the manuscripts are more complex, and “freedom of choice” has to be considered; that’s what makes this story so very engaging. Then add Emily’s own desire to know more about her past and the circumstances around the family’s fracture, the discovery of similarities between herself and the grandmother she barely remembers, and her father’s adamant feelings, sans any reason, about Em leaving the place asap, you have one “helluva” an entertaining read! Of course, nothing comes easy, but it’s Emily’s personality as being curious, compassionate, and determined that makes her a strong and admirable character. The drama incorporated some surprising twists and fulfilling endings not only to the lives within the “forsaken” manuscripts, but also for her and her family. I enjoyed the fascinating rewrites to some popular classics along with alternate endings and clever rationales making me think about my favorite books and how I would have changed them…Stone Fox’s Searchlight would have lived in my rewrite! Ellie’s first-person narrative allows readers, like me, a vicarious personal involvement with the “I” perspective and to enjoy the descriptive language for this beautiful place. I also like the insights and ideas about the role books and reading books have in our lives…for me, it allows “readers to temporarily inhabit someone else’s soul.” Thank you. Great fun!
Be a Big Ellie Alexander Fan!
Ellie Alexander is “a voracious storyteller and a lover of words and all things bookish.” She writes several series varying in theme, setting, and diversity of characters, but all are entertaining and clever. Under her name Ellie Alexander, she writes the Bakeshop Mysteries and the Sloan Krause Mysteries. Writing as Kate Dyer-Seeley she writes the Pacific Northwest Mysteries and the Rose City Mysteries. She has also collaborated on a few books along with this new standalone novel Lost Coast Literary. Something for every taste.
Lost Coast Literary, An Escape into Books
by Ellie Alexander
When’s the last time you got lost in a book? My new standalone novel Lost Coast Literary is a love letter to some of the books that I’ve gotten lost in over the years. There’s something so magical about escaping into the pages of a new read, finding yourself traveling to faraway lands, and meeting characters who help shape and alter your worldview. For me, that’s the gift of reading—the idea that for a short period of time (say three-hundred pages give or take) we get to live through someone else’s lens.
For this story, that lens took me to the Lost Coast of California behind the Redwood Curtain. It’s easy to get lost amongst the towering trees and sweeping beaches along the Northern California coastline. The beauty of writing fiction is that I was able to create a village based on real places like Eureka, Arcata, and Ferndale. From a charming plaza to grand Victorian mansions, bookish shops, and the salty mist of sea air my fictional world of Cascata began to feel alive and tangible, a place I would want to visit, a place to become fully immersed in a beach-side read.
I spent long days wandering through heavily forested trails, taking what felt like a zillion pictures to try and remember exactly how the sunlight filtered through the deep green canopy or how everything smelled like it had been spritzed with pine. I perused shops and chatted with store owners about their perspectives of living in Humboldt County. I ventured to rocky beaches where the sea stretched as far as I could see and often, I was the only person for miles and miles. I watched surfers strap the boards to the top of VW buses in search of new waves. I took my notebook to parks and observed kids savoring drippy ice cream cones and college students playing frisbee golf and soaking up the sun.
What I realized in researching this book was that it’s not only when I’m reading that I get lost in imaginary worlds, it happens when I’m writing, too. There’s a point when some other part of my brain takes over. A story might start with a nugget of an idea and then the technical side of writing kicks in: figuring out a plot, developing characters, building tension, managing subplots, and sketching an outline. All of those things are necessary and important, but it’s when I immerse myself fully, when I’m completely lost in the protagonist’s journey and living in that world that I suddenly understand that I’m not just putting words on a page.
I hope that whatever you’re reading allows you those brief moments of escape. Here’s to losing yourself in your next read.
To enter to win a signed copy of Lost Coast Literary, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “lost” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 9, 2022. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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