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  • Writer's pictureGrace A. Johnson

know the novel | introduction

It's official. After spending three years on Bound and Determined and more or less dedicating this entire blog to talking about BAD in the early years...I finally have a new project. And I'm finally able to participate in Know the Novel again! 🥳 This linkup is the highlight of my blogging year, honestly, which is why I'm so excited to join in for the first time since 2021!

Y'all have probably seen me mention my latest—but forbidden—WIP a few times here on le blog, but this is the first time I'm introducing it as an official work-in-progress. I have no clue what the future for The Forsaken will look like; I simply know that I'm writing it and having the most fun ever while doing so. Naturally, I wanna share some of that fun!


1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Ahh, mes amies. This story…it has been around for so, so long. I can still remember walking through Kroger as the first words formed in my head in the fall of 2017.

Young Arielle Myers watched in horror as the red-orange flames engulfed what was once her home.”

I had just finished reading Hearts Made Whole by Jody Hedlund, a story set at a lighthouse in Michigan. The entire series had captivated me so, and this installment in particular, so naturally I had to pen a lighthouse story of my own.

Beyond the Inner Storm was born, and my orphan girl Arielle and lightkeeper Cade came to life. This…this was my very first finished manuscript. The (short) novel that proved I could actually, well, write a novel. Had it not been for the experience I gained writing BtIS and its subsequent sequel (which I almost finished), I doubt I would’ve been able to write Held Captive (my debut novel) and see it through to completion.

I don’t talk about this much, if at all, but I was actually going to publish Beyond the Inner Storm with what turned out to be a vanity press. Fortunately, I didn’t go through with it, but this story was almost my first published book.

And now, six years later, I’m reviving it.

What sparked that idea was seeing all the lighthouse stories being published recently. I thought to myself, I should jump on this trend and write a lighthouse story. But you see, I already had. I polled my Instagram followers to see if they thought anything of my story’s concept, and they surprisingly did, and if they’d be interested in me actually giving it a go, which they shockingly were.

So…here I am.

2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!

His father in debtor’s prison, his family’s business ruined, and his mother and siblings starving, Kirk Darren leaves his shambled home in Ireland to keep a lighthouse on Lake Huron to provide for his family. However, upon arrival, he finds something far beyond his expectations—a forsaken lighthouse in utter disrepair…and the keeper’s cottage crisp, clean, and very much lived-in.
Arielle Myers fled to the dilapidated old lighthouse the day her home and her parents, her only family, went up in smoke. For eight years now, she’s remained secluded, private, almost a ghost among the neighboring towns. Until the arrival of Kirk Darren upends her quiet little world.
The strangest of circumstances have forced Kirk and Arielle to work together—and worse, live together until further arrangements can be made. But when a storm at sea brings danger to their shores and an urgent telegram calls Kirk away,their goals for new beginnings and quiet lives are put on hold. Will they ever be able to set their worlds aright? Or has all hope been forsaken?

3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects of the setting?

At a lighthouse on the shore of Lake Huron, Michigan! Technically, in a fictionalized version of Presque Isle Harbor, which is a harbor and community by North Bay. The lighthouse itself is inspired by Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, so naturally I had to make the surrounding area resemble the real-life area as well! There’s a nearby port called Port Asin, based off of Stoneport, and a bay called Kelpie Bay, and a township called Kelpie Harbor.

My favorite aspects are (1) IT’S A FREAKIN’ LIGHTHOUSE, FOR GOSH SAKE and (2) the diverse landscape in this part of the Great Lakes. There’s sandy beaches and rocky shores and deep forests and lush meadows—it’s literally my dream place. Not to mention how easy it’s been to give this story cottagecore vibes because of the beautiful setting.

4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).

As it is in romances, we have two protagonists: Kirk Darren and Arielle Myers. Without spoiling the story, I’ll give a brief description of our hero and heroine.

Kirk Darren is the overprotective cinnamon roll hero who won’t let anything come between him and providing for his family—even the mysterious fairy-like girl living in his new home. He’s an Irish fisherman’s son who was trained in keeping lighthouses by his grandfather, and when his family fell in deep debt and his father was put in debtor’s prison, he took the opportunity to repair an old, forgotten tower on Lake Huron and keep the light to provide for his mother and younger siblings.

He’s more or less the ideal man, besides his grumpy tendencies…or perhaps it’s the grumpiness that makes him so perfect? I’ll leave you to decide.

Arielle Myers is our independent but slightly immature (don’t tell her I said that) doily-loving, tea-making, Austen-reading heroine. She was orphaned at the age of eleven and ran away to an abandoned lighthouse, where she spent the next eight years making the keeper’s cottage a home.

Arielle is the paradoxical combination of modern heroine (feisty, independent, don’t-need-no-man) and traditional woman (gentle, feminine, skillful). Y’all know I love to write fierce heroines without making them disrespectful jerks, but something else I love is celebrating God-ordained, biblical femininity—which is often hard to do when it comes to pirates. 😜 So with Arielle, I’ve been able to craft a heroine that embodies biblical qualities and traditional femininity (as well as overall historical authenticity)—and weave in a ton of cottagecore vibes!

5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Well, this story doesn’t really have a villain, making this the first novel I’ve written in a long time without a definitive antagonist. The central conflict comes in the form of our hero and heroine themselves in multiple ways—Arielle and Kirk cause problems for each other, Arielle’s past brings a lot of pain and tragedy, and Kirk’s family situation puts them in some tough spots.

In the long lost version of this story, Beyond the Inner Storm, I actually did have a villain and this whole subplot that generated a sequel with Pinkerton agents and mysterious criminals. Suffice to say that’s subplot was so poorly written I left it out of The Forsaken entirely—along with several other subplots.

6. What excites you the most about this novel?


I love the storyline and characters because they are so dear to my heart and also because this is one of my very first stories—so simply bringing it to life excites me to no end. Not to mention the excitement that comes from how well this story is flowing! It’s been literal years since I’ve written so smoothly. 😭

7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Standalone! It was originally a long drawn-out series with spin-offs and everything—but with this new and improved version, I want it to stand on its own, simply and succinctly. There may be a standalone sequel that follows the story of Kirk’s sister Saoirse, but I haven’t settled on that yet.

8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plantsing! I feel like I’ve finally refined a writing method this year, so I’ve done some outlining (with is in-depth for me) and a little preliminary research, but I’m pantsing most of everything else—as usual. I am researching as I write, which has actually been a smooth, enjoyable process for me!

9. Name a few unique elements in this story.

~ lighthouses

~ unique history/fictionalized historical figures

~ foraging & herbalism

~ ghost stories

~ grumpy x grumpy dynamic (outta the way, grumpy x sunshine!)

10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

I literally only have one song, a collage I made on a whim for my desktop background, and an extremely chaotic (but oh, so aesthetic) Pinterest board. Naturally, I’m gonna link them all below so y’all can enjoy what little fun stuff I have. 😅 (I totally need to make a map, though!!)

However, to make up for lost extras, why not share a snippet? Click the very last button to download a sneak peek of The Forsaken—complete with commentary!


So, there we have it, folks! The Forsaken: my latest WIP about lighthouses and Irishmen and traumatic pasts. I'm actually about 10,000 words into the story already, and while I'm certainly not shooting for 50k words in a month (I honestly don't think the book will even end up being 50k 😅), I would love to write at least another 10k over the course of November!

Comment below what you think of The Forsaken! Are you a fan of cottagecore stories or lighthouse stories? What kind of heroes and heroines do you enjoy reading? What are your favorite dynamics between characters in romances?

And if you're joining in on Know the Novel too, let me know! I'd love to read all about your WIP!

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corrie s.p.
Nov 09, 2023

I'm so excited for you, for this story, to read it one day... Lot's of excitement🤣

My current WIP is a story for oSaS, don't know if I'll finish it in time, but I have nearly 1,000 words out of 10,000-15,000, so not too bad. I've had to take a break the last few weeks because of work and rushing around to get ready for a trip, but I wrote all those in a few days, so I have high hopes to finish by the end of November and edit/revise in the 10 days before submission😀😀

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Nov 11, 2023
Replying to

Aww, I'm so glad!!

You've got this, girl!!!


Joelle Stone
Nov 01, 2023

I... am actually interested. What have you done to me. XD

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Nov 01, 2023
Replying to

*grins cheekily* Marketing at its finest. *cackles*


Oct 25, 2023

Ah, Grace, this is so exciting to have this official announcement!!! I absolutely love it so far. I am so happy for you that you can pick up this story again after so many years, yay!

The characters sound amazing, and the story board is beautiful! Arielle sounds like the perfect mix heroine, and Kirk sounds brilliant, and love that he's Irish (totally not biased to my home country here XD)

Lighthouses, romance, history... awesome ;D

(This has also made me excited to work on the story that's been on the back of my mind for so long, and finally able to start soon)

Best wishes for November writings!

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Oct 27, 2023
Replying to

(Congratulations!!! How exciting!!)



Hannah Ruth
Oct 24, 2023

I love that this takes place in my own home state! The Great Lakes are so gorgeous!

I just made my own Know the Novel post for anyone who wants to read:

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Oct 24, 2023
Replying to

Ah, that's awesome!!

Ooh, thanks for sharing!!


Jessica Brown
Oct 23, 2023

I AM IN LOVE *swoons*

Grace A. Johnson
Grace A. Johnson
Oct 24, 2023
Replying to

*fans you*


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