Friday, March 21, 2014

The Lilac Hour--The Story Behind the Stories

When I read The Lilac Hour, I wanted to slow down, pull up an Adirondack chair on a front porch overlooking some sleepy New England harbor and drink in every word slowly, deliberately. I find the writing of these stories to be lyrical and alluring. I think you will, too. I asked author Ute Carbone to share with us the story behind the stories of The Lilac Hour and take us all to that front porch in that early evening sunset to introduce us to three ordinary, yet amazing women.

(Photograph provided by author. Please enjoy but do not copy.)

It all began with a sunset. I was in the tiny town of New Harbor, on the Pemaquid peninsula, one of the many rocky fingers that reach into the Atlantic in mid-coast Maine, running a writing retreat.

To say Pemaquid is pretty is a lot like saying the Duomo is a nice building. The small town of New Harbor is surrounded by water, with quiet coves tucked into grassy knolls, a few miles downroad a lighthouse perches on jutting rock pounded by surf. It’s the sort of place where time seems to stand still, lobster traps bob in the distance as they have for generations, old salt-stained cottages line the waterfront.

(Photograph provided by author. Please enjoy but do not copy.)

The sun set on the quiet cove right in front of the rickety antique house we’d rented (a story for another day).  The sky put on quite a show, pastels smeared into the horizon—soft blues, lilacs, salmon, rose, apricot—softening everything around it in ethereal light. My friend and fellow writer, Kathy Pyle, mentioned she’d always thought of the wondrous time between daylight and dark as ‘the lilac hour’.

A few months later I got the idea for a story about an elderly woman and her undying love for the husband she’d lost when they were both young. I knew New Harbor would be the perfect setting and Kathy’s phrase came into my head. I had the opening line—“We called it the lilac hour.”

I wrote the story, a short piece with a slight magical realism flavor, and looked for a place to publish it. Turquoise Morning Press was open to short story submissions and they had a line call ‘After Happily Ever’, which seemed the perfect home for the story. I sent it to them and Lola DelSol, the editor of the After Happily Ever line, wrote  me to say she loved the story and wanted to publish it. Only one problem, it was too short to publish as a stand-alone. She suggested several options, one of which was to write another story to compliment it.

In the original story, Sarah, the main character, mentions her daughter and her granddaughter. They must, I thought, each have a story of their own. I pitched the idea to Lola who told me to go for it.

An interesting thing happened when I sat down to write about Sarah’s daughter Maggie and her granddaughter JoAnne. It was as though they had been there all along, waiting for me to ask them for their own stories of true love. Maggie, in her fifties, had a wish to reconnect with her husband, Jake. JoAnne needed to examine her past in order to understand how much she loved her present—and her husband, David. The stories came quickly and, miracle of miracles, they all fit together, one complimenting the next. And it all started with a sunset.

The Lilac Hour

Three Stories.
Three generations of women.
Three loves meant to last forever.

The Lilac Hour: Sara has been widowed longer than she was married. Now in her eighties, she
discovers that anything is possible in the lilac hour.

Love Letters: Maggie rediscovers the letters that her husband Jake wrote long ago. Can she rekindle the passion that was once theirs?

The Road Not Taken: JoAnne meets an old love at Target. Has she made the right choice in choosing her husband David?

About the author:

Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is an award winning author of women’s fiction, comedy, and romance. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where she spends her days walking, eating chocolate and dreaming up stories.

Books and Stories by Ute Carbone:

For more about Ute and her books, Please Visit:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for having me as a guest today, Linda. Writing this post brought me back to New Harbor, which is a lovely place to be!