Treasure Beach–Whose Story and Why

By now, maybe you’ve guessed who the  major character of Treasure Beach is going to be.  The first installment of the “novellini” went up on Tuesday, to be followed by many more.  Each Tuesday, right through July, a new part will debut.  Timewise the story fits snugly between Fortunate Harbor and Sunset Bridge,  at the very end of summer, and features the women of Happiness Key

I’m not ashamed to say Treasure Beach is in part promotion for the series.  If you haven’t read Happiness Key and Fortunate Harbor yet, I hope you’ll want to after reading Treasure Beach.  Then I hope you’ll run right out and buy Sunset Bridge the moment it hits the shelves of your favorite bookstore in July. All three novels are quintessential beach books, set on Florida’s gulf coast in a small, rundown beach community.  They feature four very different women who are sure, right from the beginning, that they have nothing in common, only to discover that friendship is the greatest equalizer.

There is a “fifth” female in the community, too.  Olivia Symington, age eleven and granddaughter of Alice, appears in all the novels.  While some of the other characters come and go, Olivia is in every book.  When I began to think about stories I hadn’t had time to tell, I thought about Olivia and knew Treasure Beach should be hers.

Once upon a time, Olivia had a larger role in the series.  She even had a point of view in Happiness Key, and we saw scenes through her eyes and heard her thoughts.  But as I so often do, I overwrote.  Happiness Key was too long, even by my standards.  Before I submitted the  manuscript, I knew it had to be cut.  And while Olivia’s scenes offered depth, they did not move the story forward.  So sadly, Olivia’s point of view disappeared in my final version.

And darn, I missed it.

Olivia has suffered a number of losses in her short life, and she suffers another at the end of Fortunate Harbor.  Her best friend Lizzie moves away without a word.  And while Olivia seems to take this in stride, I remember how devastating this can be in real life.   Don’t you? At eleven, a best friend is one of the most important people in a girl’s life.  And Olivia is an intelligent, sensitive child who carries a lot of baggage.

Since Treasure Beach was written after I completed Sunset Bridge, I knew what was awaiting Olivia in the final book.  I decided that I had been given a golden opportunity.  I could provide the transition for her, let my readers experience her thoughts and feelings in more depth, and set up some of the action in Sunset Bridge.  I could, at long last, give Olivia a voice.

Of course Olivia doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  She’s loved and watched over by all the women of Happiness Key.  So, of course, each of them appears in Treasure Bridge and is heard, as well.  We even get some hints of what’s to come. And trust me, it’s never a chore to write from Wanda’s point of view or to think about her pies.

I fell back into the community of Happiness Key as if I’d never been away.  Treasure Beach was as refreshing for me as a gulf breeze.  I hope you find it just as refreshing.


  1. pat sloan on February 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I love hearing this about Olivia… makes me realize how hard it is to slim down a novel.. like my fabric lines.. have to take out some colorways as the line is just too big

    • Emilie Richards on February 11, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      No matter how much we’d like to do it all, sometimes less is more. It’s always a balancing act, isn’t it?

  2. Shirley in Canada on February 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    I can hardly wait for Sunset Bridge!! Will be getting Treasure Beach too!! Your books are such great reading! Thank you!

  3. Linda P. on February 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I haven’t finished reading Fortunate Harbor, so can’t read any more………… I am so enjoying it all though!!

  4. Sarah in Houston on February 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Emilie, I just finished Fortunate Harbor and I just loved it. You had me fooled to the end! I’m so glad I don’t have to wait for the next book to be with my “friends” again. It will be fun to learn more about Olivia. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m waiting for my kit from Pat, so that will be fun, too. Take care,

  5. Dib on May 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    When a children’s bookstore across from “Wanda’s Wonderful Pies” shop was mentioned in FORTUNATE HARBOR, I started hoping it might be featured in future developments involving residents of HAPPINESS KEY! I love recommending books to other people even when I’m not paid for it! (I was “kid book guru” in bookstores I used to work at–too bad in today’s economy, people seem hired not because of knowledge & experience, but for “Work Opportunity Tax Credit”…)

    Olivia might enjoy reading about girl her age who is main character in “Gone-away Lake” and “Return to Gone-away” by ELIZABETH ENRIGHT, one of my favorite authors, which even much older readers can relish. (Enright’s “Thimble Summer” is prestigious Newbery Award winner; also has girl main character–I often re-read around County Fair time, one of events in story about life on a family farm.)

    Some of the elements that attracted me to HAPPINESS KEY books are in “Greetings From Nowhere” by Barbara O’Connor; again, a book classified as “for children” which I think can appeal to grown-ups as well. Just some suggestions to help fill time until SUNSET BRIDGE is out–thanks, Emilie for TREASURE BEACH until then!

    • Emilie Richards on May 18, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Delightful email, Dib. Thanks for the recommendations.

  6. Machelle on May 19, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I am thoroughly enjoying this series and Pat Sloan’s quilt a long projects! I am on vacation at the beach at the moment and will be coming home with extra added inspiration. Thanks. I enjoy the Sunday poetry too.( recent discovery ,LOVE it!)

    • Emilie Richards on May 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

      So glad you’re enjoying both. Sunday Poetry is such a pleasure for me.

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