In 2007, Caroline Woodward was itching for a change. With an established career in book-selling and promotion, four books of her own and having raised a son with her husband, Jeff, she yearned for adventure and to re-ignite her passion for writing. Jeff was tired of piecing together low-paying part-time jobs and, with Caroline's encouragement, applied for a position as a relief lightkeeper on a remote North Pacific island. They endured lonely months of living apart, but the way of life rejuvenated Jeff and inspired Caroline to contemplate serious shifts in order to accompany him. When a permanent position for a lighthouse keeper became available, Caroline quit her job and joined Jeff on the lights.
Caroline soon learned that the lighthouse-keeping life does not consist of long, empty hours in which to write. The reality is hard physical labour, long stretches of isolation and the constant threat of de-staffing. Beginning with a 3:30 a.m. weather report, the days are filled with maintaining the light station buildings, sea sampling, radio communication, beach cleanup, wildlife encounters and everything in between. As for dangerous rescue missions or dramatic shipwrecks--that kind of excitement is rare. "So far the only life I know I've saved is my own," she says, with her trademark dry wit. Yet Caroline is exhilarated by the scenic coastline with its drizzle and fog, seabirds and whales, and finds time to grow a garden and, as anticipated, write.
Told with eloquent introspection and an eye for detail, Light Years is the personal account of a lighthouse keeper in twenty-first century British Columbia--an account that details Caroline's endurance of extreme climatic, interpersonal and medical challenges, as well as the practical and psychological aspects of living a happy, healthy, useful and creative life in isolation.
"My only complaint about this book is--it was hard to put down...Caroline tells a great story with passion and conviction, and you will develop an appreciation for the men and women who work very hard to assure our safety and comfort while cruising."
~ Mark Bunzel, Waggoner Cruising Guide, July 2016
"...Light Years has a comedic streak and surprises throughout. Passages of her writing are nearly edible...the colour and black and white photos throughout are like an open love letter to the career...a remarkable eavesdrop into the secret lives of lighthouse keepers..."
~ Jules Torti, Vancouver Sun, January 15, 2016
"Like any good storyteller, Caroline Woodward runs many threads through her rich storybook quilt of history and memoir... Woodward's need for solitude combined with her powerful sense of connection to people and place has stood her well in her work on the lights and as a writer. Light Years is a passionate and generous celebration of both endeavours and the people who do them."
~ Sheila Peters, BC Bookworld, Winter 2015
"...Light Years is the memoir of the pair's experience 'on the lights' together. Its appeal lies partly in the suggestion that deciding to make that tempting major life change doesn't mean the world will fall apart...The book also looks at the importance of reacquainting with nature, and contains thoughtful, detailed descriptions of the landscape and the beasts that inhabit it....But more than anything, Light Years is a book about the dream of writing: how we romanticize it, chase it, and serve it, and what we're willing to sacrifice to make it a part of our daily lives. Through all the struggles that life in the lighthouse brings, its seclusion and isolation give Woodward exactly what she was looking for: her voice back."
~ Stacey May Fowles, Quill & Quire