Most writers have an interesting anecdote about each book -- we live with our stories for months at a time, after all -- but my second book, just out this month, is a little different.
To some extent, I live it.
Granted, the heroine of Dead Reckoning is a charter captain (I am not) and is out to save her sister (I have a brother who doesn't need saving) and is an engineer (definitely not me). Plus, she goes haring off on her adventure with a couple of hunky DEA agents (nope) and owns a Ruger 9mm (I wish).
But in everything else -- her living aboard a motor yacht, her willingness to crawl into an oily bilge, her fondness for the yacht engines she's called Hortense and Claire -- I'm there. (Mine are Wallace and Gromit, starboard and port, respectively.)
A natural romance has sprung up around boats courtesy of advertising and movies. If you've ever picked up Yachting magazine, you'll have been assaulted by glossy ads for gorgeous vessels whose owners never see the inside of an engine room. (My engine room is under the sofa and chair.) And movies, unless they're disaster films, never give you a chance to glimpse "under the hood," as it were. The most memorable boating scene I've ever seen on the big screen is Bing Crosby simultaneously steering the True Love, smoking a pipe, and crooning to Grace Kelly.
So because I write for Bombshell, a series which gives authors a little more leeway when it comes to exposing the nitty-gritty, I decided to reveal the reality of boating as I know it. You know, like just how loud a pair of Detroit Diesels can be, and how a pinhole leak in the downstream exhaust system can kill you. My poor heroine survives a couple of nasty experiences aboard her beloved Obsession; one character almost dies; another character does die.
But is boating and boat ownership full of danger? Not really. Common sense carries the day, as it does in all things. Mostly it's a matter of being aware and remembering your high school chemistry and physics lessons.
The Number 1 question I'm asked when people find out I live aboard is, "What about the space?" True, there's not much of it. My dSO and I live on a 38-foot motor yacht with two cats, and that's just about right for people who don't own much "stuff." In fact, leaving behind the "stuff" has been as much of a spiritual exercise as a mental or physical one.
We have a simple rule: When something comes aboard the boat, something else has to leave it. I make great use of our local library. My dSO downloads out-of-copyright books into his PDA. I've hung on to my power suits in case I have to go back to work in a corporate environment, but live mostly in shorts and t-shirts. My "keeper shelf" might as well be nonexistent, as it's only about two feet wide. Most books I purchase get donated to the library or shipped to my ravenous reading friends.
So is there really romance in boating? Absolutely!
In the spring, I went sailing with some friends in their sailboat and encountered a dolphin pod that played around us for two hours. Anchored out at night in a quiet cove with no one but black-crowned night herons for company is magical, especially with the phosphorous glow of sea creatures gleaming in the water. Daybreak on the water feeds the soul, as does sunset.
But between the dawn and the dusk lie the impellers that need changing, the fuel filters that need cleaning, and the heady, intoxicating scent of varnish. Would I trade any of that for the privilege of having someone else captain my vessel?
Not a chance.