English professor named finalist

laura marelloLaura Marello, professor of English, was one of ten finalists selected by Narrative, a major online fiction magazine, in its fall 2013 story contest for her novel excerpt, The Lighthouse Murders.

Marello has published two novels: Tenants of the Hotel Biron,, Guernica Editions, spring 2012; and Claiming Kin, 2010 Guernica Editions, which was one of five finalists for the Paterson Award and nominated for the PEN/Bingham award.

“It is very encouraging to garner recognition for a novel that is in progress,” she said.

Marello said she has written the first 120 pages, about a third of her new book. The Lighthouse Murders is based on a true story about three women lighthouse keepers who kept the lights on the central California coast after their husbands and father died during the 1856-1917 time period.

Charlotte Layton, the lighthouse keeper at Pt. Pinos Light in Monterey, has four sons. Her husband was killed when he was part of a posse chasing an outlaw named Anastacio Garcia. She suspects she doesn’t know the whole story about his death. She was told he was shot in the leg but keeps seeing his ghost with part of his head shot off. Eventually she learns how her husband died.

The second lighthouse keeper, Laura Hecox, tends the Santa Cruz light after her father dies. She collects fossils, shells, bird’s nests, bones, and Native American artifacts. Some of the Ohlone women befriend her and teach her things about native plants and maintaining meadows.

The third lighthouse keeper is Emily Fish and her husband Melanchton Fish was a doctor. Her sister was married to Melancthon before Emily was, and had a daughter Julie. Julie thinks Emily is her real mom, not her stepmom. They lived in China for many years, then in Oakland, Calif., before coming to tend the Monterey light after Charlotte Layton retires.