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Would you take to the seas with a crew of women?? I am excited to welcome back Susan Page Davis to share about her new novel, The Seafaring Women of the Vera B., which she co-authored with her son, Jim. Before we visit with Susan, here’s a quick look at the story.
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With the captain dead in Melbourne, Australia, Alice Packard thinks the worst has happened, until she learns the crew has deserted her husband’s ship in favor of the goldfields. Only one old man, Gypsy Deak, sticks by her, but Gypsy alone can’t raise a crew from the depleted population. In desperation, Alice turns to the only source of plentiful workers: the women of Melbourne. In a bold move, she and Gypsy empty a brothel, promising the escaped women a new life. Her all-woman (save one) crew put their backs and hearts into the voyage, but Alice finds training her sailors much harder than she expected. Her faith is tested to the limit. With a cargo to sell, angry brothel and tavern owners in pursuit, pirates to evade, and a mysterious stowaway, will the seafaring women of the Vera B. survive to tell the tale of this daring adventure?
Welcome back, Susan! You’ve written this novel as a team with your son. Could you share with us what that looks like for you?
We divided some tasks according to our strengths. Jim had spent some time earlier in Australia, so he did a lot of the research on that country. I knew more about some things, such as fashions, from previous research, and as the author of 60 previous books, I had a good grasp of structuring the book. We both boned up on sailing. When it came to the actual writing, we divided it by who had the strongest desire to write a particular section. For instance, I wrote most of the parts about Alice’s visit ashore in Brisbane. Jim outlined the pirate fight. I wrote many of the scenes in Alice’s viewpoint, though not all, and Jim wrote most of those in Gypsy’s point of view. I wrote the scene where Kate and the other women escaped the bordello; Jim wrote most of the scenes where Lizzie is feuding with Ned. We shared the rescue party’s odyssey ashore. We live about 500 miles apart, so we spent a lot of time on the phone talking through each plot point and deciding who would write it.
While that makes sense, it also seems like it could be challenging! What do you find is the most difficult part of writing together?
Besides our limited time together and the distance separating us, we were on different schedules. Jim is a night owl, and his job often kept him working into the evening hours. Then he would write after he got home. I, on the other hand, do my best work in the morning. He knew I started to droop around 9 p.m. and that I would likely be asleep after 10, so that was not a good time to call and talk business. Thanks to modern technology, however we were able to get around the communication problems.
That would definitely be a challenge. Tell us more about The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. What inspired you to write this particular novel?
I had read about Abby Pennell, whose husband was a ship captain and died in Rio de Janeiro. She took the ship home. Of course, she had the original crew to do most of the work, but I wondered, what if the crew deserted her? Jim and I found the perfect situation: during the Australian gold rush, dozens of ships sat idle in their harbors while the crews flocked to the goldfields.
That sounds like an intriguing setup! Do you have a favorite character from the story? Why is this character your favorite?
I like Kate, an orphan who was adopted by aborigines for several years, then returned to the white community and forced into prostitution. She is a strong young women, and the others accept her leadership, which is why Alice chooses her to be second mate for the voyage. Jim favors Sonja, the Norwegian fisherman’s daughter who nearly drowned when her father’s boat sank. Each character is unique, and we look forward to developing their stories throughout the series.
These ladies have been through some tough times… I know you’re always busy. Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
Right now I’m writing a western romance set in Arizona. It’s called My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains and will appear in the spring of 2017. Jim and I have also outlined book 2 of our Hearts of Oak series, and we hope to write that next, so you can have more adventures with the seafaring women.
Thanks for taking time from all your writing to share with us today, Susan!
How adventurous are you? Would you set sail on a ship like the women of the Vera B?
More about Jim and Susan:
Susan Page Davis, James’s mom, is the author of more than sixty Christian novels and novellas. Her historical novels have won numerous awards, including the Carol Award, the Will Rogers Medallion for Western Fiction, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest.
You can connect online:
Susan’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanpagedavisauthor
Jim’s page: https://www.facebook.com/authorJamesSDavis/?fref=ts
Coming soon from Susan:
‘The Seafaring Women of the Vera B.’ Giveaway:
Susan has generously offered to give away one copy of The Seafaring Women of the Vera B. (winner’s choice of paperback or e-book). Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.