Some people take hundreds of photos. Others might keep a journal. Many may share their experience through social media. For American author Diane Winger, it was the inspiration for writing a short novel and donating back to the Path through royalties from sales of the book.
After my memorable walk with a friend along 250 miles or so of the South West Coast Path, I felt like I needed to commemorate that amazing experience with something more. Being an author, that translated into writing a short novel – a novella of around 115 pages – to try to capture the physical challenges, sensory cornucopia, and the emotions elicited by our journey.
From the Southwest U.S. to the South West Coast Path
Our walk took us from Padstow to Plymouth, and we joked about the popularity of place names we visited which began with “P”: Perranporth, Portreath, Penzance, Praa Sands, Polstreath, Pentewan, Polperro, and more “Port” and “Porth” names than I could keep track of. Any port in a storm, right?
I’ve lived my entire life in Colorado – a totally land-locked state in the middle of North America. I know mountain views and desert vistas, having spent many holidays over the years hiking and climbing in Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California. Although I’ve visited coasts at various times in my life, I’ve never spent weeks on end gazing at spectacular ocean views, dramatic cliffs and isolated beaches, coves and headlands and ports, or lovely villages with streets and buildings far older than anything I’d find in my own country. Cornish pasties and clotted cream, cozy pubs and quaint old hotels, friendly local folks and quirky travelers – I wanted to capture it all as the backdrop for my characters’ tale.
What’s the story about?
A novel needs more than a great setting – it needs interesting characters with a story to tell. The Long Path Home focuses on Joni, who celebrates her 52nd birthday during her trip. Joni lost her husband a year ago and is still struggling emotionally. Their dream to hike the stunning South West Coast Path of Cornwall is a trip she can’t imagine tackling alone. But once her son offers to join her, she embraces the opportunity.
When circumstances threaten to cut their trip short, she realizes that only a gutsy choice may bring about the life-changing result she longs for.
I aimed to tell this tale in a voice that is sometimes humorous, often inspiring, and ultimately uplifting.
As I walked along the coast, I was often struck with the extraordinary amount of work it takes to maintain the path, build detours around cliffs which have foundered, create and maintain steps eroded by nature, and provide trail signs. My husband and I have worked as volunteers for the Ouray Trail Group, an organization which performs many of these same labors of love for hiking trails around the rugged mountains near Ouray, Colorado, not far from our home.
After learning more about the South West Coast Path Association, I decided to donate half of the royalties I earn from The Long Path Home during the 3-month period from 1 November 2022 through 31 January 2023.
The Long Path Home is available as an e-book through Amazon, as a paperback, or in hardcover. All editions include numerous color photos, and the paperback is sized small enough to fit easily in a backpack – just the right souvenir for someone walking the South West Coast Path (or for anyone with an interest in it). The hardbound version is larger and uses a very high quality paper to showcase the photographs. Your book order helps support the SWCP, and the book in any format would make a lovely gift for someone (including yourself).
Purchase a book on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B9M41RDC/
About Diane Winger
Diane is a self-described “retired software geek” who loves hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, camping, and cross-country skiing when she isn’t glued in front of her computer writing, picking out books to add to her “to be read” list, or watching cat videos. She is a voracious reader who still gets goose bumps whenever someone introduces her as an author.
Diane is an enthusiastic volunteer in her community and is particularly passionate about literacy-related projects and organizations. In addition to having written a dozen novels, she has co-authored several guidebooks on outdoor recreation along with her husband, Charlie. They live in western Colorado.