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Take a quick read of the featured Jewel of Historical Romance author’s favorite point of inspiration for her stories, then answer two simple questions and you’re entered!
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ENTRY FORM BELOW! READ POST FIRST!
Brenda “Jade” Hiatt
It’s amazing how many different ways authors find inspiration for stories! I’ve had ideas sparked by songs on the radio, overheard bits of conversation, items in the news and, probably most frequently, while researching some detail for a different book. Only once, however, have I written a book because of an idea someone else handed to me.
My father-in-law, a huge boating enthusiast, suggested the idea for Ship of Dreams after attending a presentation about the recovery of a historic shipwreck and the gold it contained. He insisted I should write a novel about the original sinking. Mostly to humor him, I began researching the events leading to the 1857 demise of the sidewheel steamer S.S. Central America. Somewhat to my surprise, I was almost immediately drawn in by the drama and romance of the events of that voyage, to include the ship’s sinking and rescue of many of its passengers. How had I not heard about it before? The Central America truly was the Titanic of its era!
The newspaper accounts from the time were harrowing, as were some of the illustrations I found—artists’ depictions of the sinking, based on eyewitness survivor accounts. Digging ever deeper into my research, I was rewarded by the incredible find of an actual diary written by one of those passengers, a young woman on her honeymoon trip! Better yet, I was able to get a complete photocopy of Addie
Easton’s diary from the Library of Congress. What a treasure trove of detail! That diary helped me enormously as I fleshed out my story, and Addie herself became an important secondary character in the book. Because most of the Central America’s passengers were returning from the California Gold Rush, an enormous quantity of gold was being transported on the ship when it went down—the impetus behind the salvage expedition that eventually discovered the wreck, and a detail I wove into my plot.
As you might imagine, Ship of Dreams is the closest to historical fiction of all of my historical romances, as the whole story is woven around true events. That made it both extra-challenging and extra-rewarding to write! Much like the 1997 Titanic movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), my hero and heroine were practically the only fictitious characters on the ship, playing out their romance surrounded by the real people and events of the time. (I actually used the soundtrack from Titanic as my inspirational writing music to help me achieve the same emotional intensity!)
Alas, because Ship of Dreams is my one non-Regency historical romance, it is often overlooked, though I’ve been told by numerous readers that it’s one of my best. I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know what you think!
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