Holding out for a hero
I wanted a man who was an adventurer, something of a pirate, or buccaneer, with a devil-may –care attitude towards life and women – until he meets Evelina, my heroine!
We have discussed before how characters are "born" and I know other writers find that sometimes their hero is just there, waiting for their story to be written. This is how it was for me. When I first started thinking about this story, Captain Nick Wylder strode onto the stage, ready to take control!
When I am writing a book I like to know each main characters's back-story. Sometimes it comes to me piecemeal as the story develops and I realise why my characters will or will not perform the way I want. At other times, the back-story is complete before I start on the main novel. I thought you might be interested to read my notes on Captain Nick Wylder – unedited, just as they came out of my notebook!
Captain Nick Wylder b 1752 (28 in 1780). Ex sailor, well known for daring and dangerous exploits – nickname Wyldfire. Younger son of an earl. Black hair, blue, blue eyes. Gleaming smile (dimple)
Owns properties in the north of England. Went to sea as a boy and served under Admiral Howe (Richard Howe, known as Black Dick) in America – in the summer of 1776 (he was 24) he commanded one of the ships under Lord Howe when they took New York City (Washington left NYC in September 1776). Howe was known to be sympathetic to the rebels and keen to broker a peace – holds peace conference on Staten Island in September but it fails. British take Newport, Rhode Island in December 1776 When Howe resigned because he felt he had been under-supported in his peace attempts in 1778. Nick resigned too but before they could return to England they had to defend Newport (Rhode Island ) from the French under Count d'Estaing. The French ships were heavier and had a deeper draught than the British and could not cross the sand bar to meet the enemy so their assault failed. On the arrival of Admiral Byng in September 1778 Howe was free to return home (at the end of 1778). Created Earl Howe in 1788.
Now none of the above is in my book, except as a passing reference, but the experience made my hero the man he is when the book opens: brave, impetuous, a natural leader, a daredevil, used to adventure and with lots of experience of the sea.
And do you know, I think this could form the basis of another novel!
Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife is published in the UK in hardback on 5th February 2010 (paperback April 2010)