Back in 1984, I had two books under my belt..China Rose and Bound by the Heart. CR had a smidgen to do with the sea, the main character being the captain of a ship, tousled hair, hunky chest the whole piratical thing going on…
Then came Bound by the Heart, and I was pushing a little farther into the whole *immerse yourself in research for six months and put the rest of your life on hold*. But there was Captain Morgan Wade, and a lot of the action took place on the sea, I wrote my first full fledged sea battle and got most of the terminology right enough that people thought I was an experienced sailor *SNORT*
I get seasick in a hot tub.
However…my first crush, my first real heroic type character was Errol Flynn and I just loved the way he vamped his way through Captain Blood and the Sea Hawks. He dazzled me to the tips of my toes, and is probably why I still felt I hadn’t done justice to a real swashbuckling romance.
So there I was, reading the paper, or reading something, and a phrase jumped out at me “..the wind and the sea…”. I mean, it jumped. I stared at it and saw it all…sea battles and tall ships and sails curved into the wind. It was the first time I wrote a book based on a title, and the result, all 531 printed pages was one of my most favorite, fun, and frustrating books to write. Fun, because it was a swashbuckler and I could hear Errol hooting in the background. Favorite…because it was the first book where I felt confident enough to write a heroine that went against all the current trends at the time. She didn’t whine or whimper. She had short hair and small boobs. She didn’t swoon. She was handy with a gun and a knife and a sword and a cannon, and it was a challenge to create a man strong enough to handle her.
It was also frustrating with a capital F, because my good buddy, Diane Kelly, who was my sounding board at the time, kept reading chapters as I wrote them and telling me what she *thought* was going to happen next. So naturally I had to make sure that didn’t happen. The result was killing off a whole lot of people who *could have* and *should have* been the villain while leading readers down a false path so they would expect it was one person, while it was really another. Yupper. I was past deadline, had 95% of the book written, and still didn’t know who the ultimate villain was going to be. I kept stalling the editor, she kept tapping her fingers, I stalled, she tapped…
When it finally found it’s way into print, I was totally ecstatic over the reception it got. Romantic Times made up a new catagory for an award… Swashbuckler of the Year. Affair de Coeur gave it a golden pen award, and it even won an award for being the best-selling romance in Canada that year. I was on a cloud!
Until the publisher went bankrupt, that is.
Yup. Belly up for Paperjacks two years later. It took The Wind and the Sea down into the watery grave with it, along with the first edition of The Pride of Lions. POL, because it had a sequel and because Scottish Romances became scorching hot over the next few years, was eventually reprinted by Dell. But TWATS…no such luck. Not even when I went against the grain again and wrote another pirate romance, despite being told “pirate romances don’t sell” Across A Moonlit Sea restored my faith in my ability to swash and buckle, as did the sequel, The Iron Rose, which was voted one of the seven best FICTION books that year by Publisher’s Weekly. Not just romance books, but FICTION books.
And still no one was interested in reprinting my Wind and the Sea. Not even after Pirates of the Caribbean came out…all three movies…nope. “Pirate romances don’t sell” They should record it in voice mail. Blah.
However, thanks to a little buzz in my ear from Julie Ortolon, who got the whole BacklistEBooks ball rolling, The Wind and the Sea does indeed have a second life. It took six weeks of reading it through, editing out some hokey language, doing some gentle revisions, proofreading it again, formatting it, making a spiffy new cover….but it’s up and I’m all proud of it again.
I hope some people might remember it and maybe even give it a second read. I added an epilogue, which struck me as being lacking in the first version. And I fell in love with the characters all over again…which got me thinking about The Iron Rose…and that unwritten story about the Dante brothers…