Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Holding out for a hero

They don't make swashbuckling pirate films like they used to(sigh). Remember those lovely old movies - Captain Blood, The Crimson Pirate, Prisoner of Zenda, Ivanhoe etc. etc? Swashbucklers are very rare these days - I suppose the Mask of Zorro was probably one of the last - and of course the Pirates of the Caribbean films came pretty close. I grew up with these old action movies and was very excited when I started formulating the idea for a swashbuckling romance of my own - and at long last it is coming out in the UK!

Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife is published this week and I have to confess this was one of my favourite books to write. Not only is it a ripping yarn but its hero charmed me from the moment he "walked into my head". Of course, heroes are very personal and we each have our own vision of what a hero might be.

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!

Oh, and the pictures? Well, obviously I don't have a photograph of Captain Nick Wylder, but these are just some of the heroes who have influenced me over the years (well perhaps not Jack Sparrow, but hey, who needs an excuse to add JD's photo?)

Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife is published in the UK in hardback on 5th February 2010 (paperback April 2010)


Jan Jones said...

Love the photos! Also love your notes on Nick. It is SO important to know your people outside of what's on the page.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks Jan.
The spooky thing is that sometimes i don't even realise how much I know about them until I start writing!

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Black hair, blue eyes, a daredevil, courageous... and I love the dimple. Yes, please, I'd like one of those!

I was interested to read your notes, Melinda. Mine are rather similar - with the date of birth and the historical background so I know where to place him.

The book sounds terrific!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks Elizabeth - i cannot resist a man with a dimple!

Sometimes my background information is much more sketchy, but for Captain Nick it all fell into place very nicely!

Monica Fairview said...

Gorgeous photos. There's nothing like a bigger than life hero, is there? I love the Mask of Zorro! I want to read about Captain Nick.

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks Monica - I just love rip-roaring swashbuckling heroes! Captain Nick will be out in paperback in April!