Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Girl from the Lighthouse by Willard Thompson - Book Tour and Giveaway

The Girl From the Lighthouse tells the compelling story of Emma Dobbins. 

Abandoned by her mother at an early age, she was raised by her father, a lighthouse keeper at Point Conception in California, where early on she discovers her artistic talent.  At the age of 17, Emma travels to Paris with a chaperone, to attend art school but is separated from the chaperone when the woman becomes ill. Emma arrives alone in Paris with no money, no language skills, and no friends. A chance meeting with a young working girl in the train station becomes her first Parisian friend.

The setting is Paris in the 1860s-70s, the start of the Belle Èpoque. France soon is involved in the Franco/Prussian War and the Commune Uprising; difficult times for Emma and all Frenchmen. Initially rejected by art schools, her determination keeps her moving toward her goal in the art world, where the Impressionists are starting to change the world. Frenchmen fall in love with her beautiful face and lustrous dark hair. Some wanted to paint her, others to court her, but either way, she does not abide by the rules they try to impose on her because she never learned them. She grows into an accomplished artist but never gives up her own principles... even when someone steals something precious to her and she fights to get it back. 

The story is told in the first person, present tense, allowing the reader to enter the story and feel a part of it as it unfolds, sharing with Emma her highs and lows, loves and rejections, all focused in the art world of Paris.  The novel is filled with vivid characters, both fictional and real people, and the story unfolds gracefully from the 1870s until 1912, just prior to the start of WWI.


The next morning, I go to the orchard with my easel and a canvas to capture the early light and the dew on the leaves of the apple trees. I set up the easel midway between two rows and concentrate on getting the perspective just right, as the trees appear to merge in the distance. It is delicate, tedious work, but the charcoal pencil I sketch with comes alive in my fingers, eagerly welcoming the challenge. In my mind's eye, I see myself in solitude on the bluff looking out at the headlands of the rugged California coastline merging into the mist.

"That is a very brilliant thing you have done to capture the complexity of the apple orchard fading into the distance," the voice over my shoulder says around mid-day. 

When I look up, I see Lamar scrutinizing my morning's work. "The flowers are so delicate," I tell him, "So hard to get right. Tomorrow my challenge will be to reproduce in oil what I've sketched." I pause then ask, "How has your morning been, mon cher?" I wait for his reaction.

"Well enough, I suppose. I've read my mail and a couple of newspapers that came with it. What do you say we drive into the village for lunch? I'm ready."

"Can you wait just a few more minutes?"

"Ah, but Emma, I am hungry now."

Guest Post

What would you like to tell readers about yourself?

I'm a writer of historical fiction. I wrote my first historical novel when I was in seventh grade; I imagined myself as a midshipman on Old Ironsides, USS Constitution. Sadly, that novel was never finished. It came to an end when a note came home from my teacher to my mother suggesting I spend more time improving my grammar and punctuation.

 After graduating from college with a degree in English literature, I worked for several advertising agencies in New York City, and my success was always due to my creative writing ability. But the business world and I were not meant for each other. I left the corporate world and became a freelance journalist barely eking out a living for my family, but doing what I enjoy doing most. During that time I wrote several short stories and adventure-oriented novels, but none of them ever saw the light of day.

When I moved to California with my family, naturally I wanted to learn more about California history, and that led to writing Dream Helper, my first serious historical novel. I worked on it in several writers' groups, and received encouragement to try to market it. After receiving something over 100 rejection slips from eastern publishers, I traveled across the country to attend a historical fiction writers' conference. There I met with a New York editor, and pitched my book to her only to have her tell me her company was not interested in publishing western historical fiction. 

On the flight home, I pondered whether to put the manuscript away in my bottom desk drawer or do something else. Ultimately the book received a gold medal for the best western historical fiction from the Independent Book Publishers Association. In fact, Dream Helper has sold more copies than it would have as a traditional first novel from a major publisher. Since then, two other California historical novels, Delfina's Gold and Their Golden Dreams, have followed Dream Helper to form my Chronicles of California trilogy. 

My newest novel, The Girl from the Lighthouse, is a historically based novel set in Paris, France in the 1870s. It traces the life of a young American woman who travels to Paris to study art. Naively, she encounters the social restrictions women of that time faced. They included the rituals of courtship. She lives through the Franco Prussian war, the Paris Commune, and  starts a career of painting with the artists that became known as the Impressionists. 

One of my great pleasures in writing historical fiction has been the bringing together of my fictional characters with real personalities of the time. So in The Girl from the Lighthouse my protagonist, Emma Dobbins, meets Impressionist artists Renoir, Monet, and Degas, and other famous people of the time like Sarah Bernhardt, the actress, and Charles Frederick Worth, the high fashion designer of lady's gowns.

I hope the take away from this for young or just-beginning writers, is to never give up, to listen to the advice of others but to follow their own instincts, while never stopping writing and learning their craft.

About the Author

Willard Thompson is an award-winning historical fiction and romance writer living in Montecito, California with his wife Jo. His newest historical romance, THE GIRL FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE was published in early 2019. His previously published three novels of historical fiction DREAM HELPER DELFINA'S GOLD, and THEIR GOLDEN DREAMS are part of his CHRONICLES OF CALIFORNIA trilogy. The Independent Publishers 2009 Book Awards selected DREAM HELPER for a gold medal as the best fiction in the Western/Pacific Region.

Thompson is a past president of the board of directors of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. He is a native of Manhasset, New York and a graduate of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York

Willard Thompson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi Kim thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy my book. If you do please post a positive review on goodreads or Amazon. And please follow me on goodreads or bookbub. Cheers, Willard.

  2. Hi Rita. Thanks for looking at my book. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you do please post a positive review on Amazon or Goodreads. And please follow me on Goodreads or Bookbub. Hope you're having a great day! Cheers, Willard