by Marie-Claude Bourque
Weaving details into stories
Adding realistic touches to novels makes them all the more engaging, don’t you think? Besides making my characters a little bit flawed – and so, more human – I also like to give them interesting hobbies and occupations. These add another dimension to the setting, especially in historical novels.
It always amazes me how serendipity feeds into the creative process. Visiting a maritime museum in Key West, I learned the little-known history of the wreckers. These incredible heroes amazed me. They rescued shipwrecked passengers from certain death during fierce storms, battling nature herself. Afterward, they reaped huge rewards from salvaging the wrecked ship’s cargo, but to me, they earned every penny. In the late 1800s, no real diving equipment existed. The wreckers dove to the ocean floor while holding their breath for minutes while performing dangerous tasks.
Of course, I had to write about it. Freya’s Bower will release my historical adventure romance novel, Angels Sinners and Madmen, on July 27: http://www.freyasbower.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=11&products_id=246
A few years ago, I caught a PBS special on Walt Whitman that intrigued me. I’d never realized what a controversial figure he was during his lifetime. His poems hinted at homosexuality, unheard of in literature during the late 1800s. Another useful detail to add to the story, as it seemed fitting for Key West. The hero, Sam Langhorne (whom I named for one of my literary heroes, Samuel Langorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain) lends a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass to the heroine, Livvie Collins. When Livvie reads it aloud one evening in the Key West boardinghouse, it causes quite a stir. A writer, Livvie loves to read, and in the opening scenes, calms a companion by reading to her from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables. Later, she reads Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, which had originally been published in twenty installments rather than a single novel, a practice not uncommon during that time. So Livvie finds the serialized novel on the boardinghouse bookshelves after someone had saved it from a shipwreck.
I hope you will check out the book video for Angels, Sinners and Madmen:
Here is an excerpt:
Her intense scrutiny made him uneasy.
“Did someone hurt you? So much you distrust every other who shares her gender?”
Her face, illuminated by the setting sun, appeared so innocent, so youthful. She could not possibly know of the terrible danger inherent in offering oneself to another. The intricacies of a relationship.
“Yes.” The lone word revealed more than he had ever shared with anyone else. He stood rigid, unwilling to display himself further through any action or language.
“Then I am truly sorry, Sam. To close yourself off in such a way you can never know happiness again. It makes me sad for you.”
His laugh was hollow. “You needn’t pity me.”
Her face hardened, her beautiful lips retreating to a thin, disapproving line. “No. You’re right. To choose such a life willingly is your own doing. You deserve no pity.”
This was the kind of woman he was used to. Whose tender caresses turned to merciless clawing, so deep his very heart was at peril. “Such harsh words from one who would have me believe—”
“I will not be so pathetic as to cling to false hope. To wait for you to sort out your feelings could take years.” She bowed her head. “I hold you to nothing, Sam. Forget yesterday, if you must.” She lifted her head to hold his gaze for a moment, perhaps waiting for him to open himself to her. In resignation, she turned and walked out.
Stunned, Sam stood there, looking at the closed door.
She knew him. She knew him completely, her sweet touch had divined his true self, had breathed into his mouth and captured the essence of his soul. Her openness, her honesty, entranced him more than her beauty.
Yet he still could not move, could not will himself to go after her, confess his feelings.
The sensation of being in Livvie’s arms could not be more opposite to his time with Helen. When Livvie looked at him, she exposed herself completely. Nothing else existed in the world. Her giving nature resulted from her feelings, and what she did not feel, she would not give. He knew it to be true.
If Livvie left Key West, he would likely never meet another near her qualities. Her inquisitive nature inspired him to share his thoughts, his world. He trusted her reaction to be true, not a response designed to please him. Her skills of comprehension and analysis exceeded those of many educated men. Were it not for the constraints of society, Livvie could have risen to great power, if she’d aspired to.
He had never encountered another girl like her. That was perhaps what frightened him most. Yet he still felt rooted where he stood, even as he saw, in his mind’s eye, her figure grow smaller and disappear altogether. One thought repeated in his head: I will never forget.
Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” The proud mom of three adult children, she currently lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband, Lily the dog, their dictator-like cat, Chairman Maiow, and dozens of characters inhabiting her imagination. Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, http://catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.