Grace A. Johnson
Know the Novel Part 1: Introduction
Updated: Dec 2, 2021
Fun fact: I’ve been wanting to do Know the Novel for a year now.
Another fun fact: I actually get to do it.
Yet another fun fact: I’m doing it today and you, O lucky reader, get to join me!
Yes, it’s true! I am OFFICIALLY joining Christine Smith’s Know the Novel linkup! *squeals* Technically, Know the Novel is for NaNoWriMo (which is some writing thingy in November). As you can tell, I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo (and I do apologizing to all the die-hard NaNoWriMo fans for calling it a “writing thingy;” I do actually understand the concept, believe it or not), THAT SAID, anyone can join the linkup and share about whatever works-in-progress they have, regardless of when, where, and how they’ll be writing them!
Hence my appearance here. *waves*
I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity for me to (1) introduce my new readers to my main WIP, Bound and Determined, (2) give older readers a refresher course, and (3) possibly share a sneak peek! Not to mention it’s just cool. I mean, c’mon. I’ve never actually joined a linkup before. I created one, which failed miserably, but never have I joined one. This...this, my friends, is a momentous occasion.
*issues a moment of silence*
Anyway, before we get into the questions, I invite y’all to check out the other posts here and learn more about Know the Novel! Hey, you may even want to join it yourself!
Now, enough fiddle-farting around. On to the questions! (Spoilers for Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart ahead, so buckle up! And maybe skim a little, just to be safe.)
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
This question is going to have the craziest answer possible, so bear with me.
First of all, I’d always planned to have more stories after Held Captive—my debut novel—and the first sequel was going to be Keaton’s story at first. Now, when I say at first, I mean back in 2017, when Held Captive was The Lady Pirate and Keaton was this little blue-eyed boy (a lot like Billy, come to think of it) who fell in love with Xavier’s (the hero of Held Captive) sister Christabel.
Obviously, much has changed. For one, Xavier doesn’t have a sister named Christabel...Keaton does.
Anyway, the point is that when I started writing Held Captive (which can honestly be viewed as a story entirely separate from The Lady Pirate), Keaton’s character changed drastically. Which meant his story needed to as well.
For some time, I focused more on what Elliot’s story would look like and who his love interest was (fun fact: she wasn’t always Crimson Wilde), so Keaton’s kind of flip-flopped. Once I figured out the particulars of Elliot’s story (which is now Prisoner at Heart), I moved on to developing Keaton’s.
My first idea?
Another female pirate captain.
Yep, Keaton was going to join forces with his childhood friend Josephine, who became a pirate to help provide for her younger siblings (don’t ask). And, thanks to my dentist, I had another idea to throw into the mix.
(Yes, my dentist...who is now retired...is also a writer and we kind of struck up a friendship for a while there, and he provided some interesting insight and ideas for possible sequels to Held Captive.)
At the time of his suggestions, I was already making serious progress on Prisoner at Heart, so I didn’t plan on using any of his ideas for the sequel. However, one of them fit exceedingly well: having Rina face the temptation to become a pirate again.
Originally, this fit in with helping Josephine, but I never really explored the particulars of how this would affect Rina. Or really anything about the plot at all.
So when I for some reason grew extremely discontent with my idea (please don’t ask when or why...I go through writerly crises like this all the time, so it’s really just part of the plotting process now), I turned to those questions.
How would Rina be affected? Why exactly is she presented with the temptation of pirating again? Where’s Xavier in all this?
To answer these questions, I opened up a new doc and wrote these words:
Bound and Determined… What if we added more? What if we totally ditched what I was going to do, and completely redid everything? I’m liking this idea. Say Xavier did indeed decide to captain another ship. Say Rina is tested to the max. Say we still don’t give up on Keaton. Say we slap in a couple of slave traders, slaves, pirates, naval officers, and temptations. What do you think? I’m liking this.
So profound. I know. Trust me, it gets worse from there, because my thought process is extremely strange.
Five pages and over two thousand words later, I have my story.
2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!
So, I keep going back and forth on whether or not I like this blurb...but it’s technically the best (and the only) one I’ve got, so here we go:
They had all thought it past. Yet now the storm has returned.
A wicked twist of fate—or perhaps the hand of God—has landed Captain Rina Bennet in the most precarious situation yet. When her husband and the father of her twin boys leaves at the behest of a family friend, she is left to take charge of the ship she has not sailed on in two years, accepting the responsibility of a dwindling crew, half of which don’t even know her as captain. Saddled with two toddlers, she struggles in vain to erect some form of normalcy and order upon her ship…
Then the past suddenly appears to haunt both her and her quartermaster Keaton, in the forms of an old friend and an old life.
Rina has to make a judgment call when the ghosts come knocking, a call that could mean either life or death—for both an innocent girl and herself. The storm has returned.
I’m not at liberty to discuss any more details at this moment. Why? Because, for some really strange reason, I got all secretive about the heroine of this story back when I first started this blog and because I’m sure I had a good reason, I’ve just stuck with it. We call her Miss Sharow...because that’s her name. I just don’t want to give y’all her first name for fear of spoiling anything. Although...there’s really nothing to spoil. (Funnily enough, I just went back to a post I wrote a year ago tomorrow...and I just blabbered on about my heroine in it. Strange. Anyway...)
So maybe, if you stick around to the end of the post, I’ll do a FULL heroine reveal. How about that? But you have to read all the way to the bottom, okay? And NO skimming, or I’ll take it back. We have a deal?
Good. Moving on.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
Best question ever. Why? Because I LOVE talking about the setting for my book—the Golden Age of Piracy! (Admittedly, that’s when...but this book takes place physically in about eighteen different places, so…) The official year is 1686, and we hop around from Port Royal, Jamaica to Portsmouth, England to Santiago de Cuba!
Honestly, as much as I love the unique settings of my novels, I hate having to research for them. First of all, half of Port Royal is under the ocean, so that setting is really lost to the world now, and it’s not like I can expect accurate results from Google Earth-ing these places. Being that it’s 2021 and, well, the story is set 335 years ago. Historical fiction is hard, you guys. You, like, have to know everything. AUGH.
Seriously, though, I love Port Royal. Nothing but pirate fiction is set in Port Royal (including Curse of the Black Pearl), which sets it apart from your typical settings like London, New York, Paris (all great places, but they can’t compare). And rightfully so, as Port Royal was the happenin’ place to be for pirates back in the d-a-y. In fact, because of all the piracy, brothels, taverns, and whatnot, Port Royal was actually dubbed the Wickedest City on Earth. No lie. Google it.
So, yes, the setting is a crappy place to be...but it’s so unique and interesting, and I hope to explore it even more in the coming books!
Also, shout-out to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Favorite settings EVER are oceans. Why? No research necessary. ‘Tis just water, me hearty.
Although I do recommend a wee bit of research. Ye’d best be knowin’ where all tha’ water be located at, y’know.
4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).
Y’all. We will, no lie, be here ALL. DAY. LONG.
Because I kinda have, like, five protagonists for this book. That’s a lot to say, as we all know how wordy I can be.
However, since two of these protagonists (Xavier and Crimson...yes, I’m bringing back their POVs!!!) are more minor, I’ll focus on the two major protagonists...Rina and Keaton. (And, yes, I know I’m missing one. Stay tuned! *winks*)
Rina Bennet, the heroine of Held Captive and secondary heroine of Prisoner at Heart, is now a wife and mother of twins Dick and Mav. She’s given up her life of piracy to be a privateer and the occasion pirate hunter. (Basically, she’s a mercenary for the British government...she’ll do whatever they request of her, within reason, of course.) However, as she’s been diligently caring for her toddlers—one of whom has been very sickly—she’s relinquished her duties to Julius, her cousin and surrogate brother, and is currently living with her husband’s aunt and uncle in Port Royal.
Keaton Clarke, the quartermaster aboard Rina’s ship, is the hero of the story, typically lending a helping hand and giving a few words of wisdom. However, when a ghost from his past (please note, not an actual ghost...that’d be weird) suddenly reappears, Keaton becomes more of a hindrance than a help, as he tries to wrestle with his past and the person who made it all resurface.
That’s the best I can do without spoiling anything, guys. Y’all know I can’t give too much away. Where’s the fun in that, am I right? That said, I did a post several months ago all about Keaton that you can read here! It's been over a year since then, so some things have changed about his character...but he's the same at the heart.
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
I, again no lie, have an antagonist for every protagonist. Let’s see...there’s Tomas, Crofton, the Royal Navy, two villainous scoundrels that I’m keeping a secret from y’all, slavery, temptation, death, guilt, and a whole host of other things that keep ruining my characters’ lives.
And, yes, you heard me right. Tomas Wilde, the poor kid who had virtually no screen time in Prisoner at Heart, is coming back to steal the show, my lovelies! Y’all are gonna LOVE this guy, if my alpha reader Sophia’s fangirling is of any indication!
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Um...all of it? No, seriously. As difficult as it’s been for me to write recently, I am still tremendously excited about every. single. element of this story. The romance is *chef’s kiss* exquisite. The plot is packed with action and suspense. The characters are all so annoying unique and authentic. The themes...aah, the themes. Nailing them has been a struggle, but so worth it, because in the end, I think this story will have several amazing and strong messages!
7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?
Book #3 in the Daughters of the Seven Seas series, baby! And, nope, it’s not the end! I hope to have at least three more books after this one! (I say at least because I may be coming up with an idea for another one...but only maybe.) Not to mention, I have a prequel series and a sequel series and possibly a couple standalone spin-offs...Star Wars style, dawg. *wags eyebrows* No, seriously. I’ll probably end up publishing the series the same way the Star Wars movies released. Middle, beginning, and end.
8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?
Pft. None of it. I reverse plot, which means I pants the first go-round, then outline what I’ve already written if/when I need to go back and revise things. I’ve tried plantsing this story some more, but it’s really just morphed into pantsing. I just can’t plot my pirate novels. Anything else, sure, I could do it. But this series? Nerp. It all must be pantsed.
9. Name a few unique elements about this story.
Well. Um. You know. Pirates. Like, actual pirates...who do actual pirating. This is not Veggietales, people. Or even a fantasy novel. This is realistic piracy, which is something you don’t get a lot of in...well...basically anything these days. Gotta love that.
All the action is pretty sweet, too. I feel like Held Captive had NONE at all, while Prisoner at Heart was just in the beginning. I do the opposite in Bound and Determined, dragging out the beginning with lots of suspense and development, then diving headfirst into some crazy situations. That’s a ton of fun, if a bit difficult to configure in some cases.
The themes. I plan on talking more about them in some upcoming posts...but let’s just say that my characters have introduced a LOT of different themes and messages. They’ve also brought up a lot of questions...some of which God has already answered in His Word, others that He has helped me see and apply in a new way, and others still that don’t have answers yet. I think that, in some ways, I’m learning and discovering new things along with my character and hopefully my readers as well, which has been exciting. I just worry that I don’t make any sense some times!
10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
THE FUN STUFF. YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!!!!!
Seriously, this is probably my favorite part of writing! Right now, I have two Pinterest boards for Bound and Determined (one for aesthetic and inspirational images, the other for quotes and whatnot that fit the story), and I have an extremely long, wild playlist that I really need to edit. I also have a Pinterest board with inspiration for all the characters in the Daughters of the Seven Seas series, which you can check out here, but I’ll share some of my top pins for...yes...the mystery heroine here!
This is my "object inspiration" board for Bound and Determined, which includes images of the ships in the story, the very significant pearl necklace, and, if you scroll down to the bottom, you'll find some pins about words and quotes and whatnot that I'm too lazy to move to my written inspiration board.
Speaking of, in this board is all of the quotes and sayings and whatchamacallem that fit my characters and their stories! These give a lot of insight into the characters' struggles - both past and present! Not to mention that there are a few that kinda fit the romance I got goin' on betwixt Keaton and his girl.
While we're on the subject of the heroine of the story...here are some collages I put together for her! (Please note that the following images were all sourced from Pinterest.)
This is a collection of the pictures I think fit her most...as you'll see, I've included a daisy.
Because, yes. Her name is Daisy. Well, technically, that's her nickname. Her real name is Margaret. Which is why I love the girl with the strand of pearls so much and why I ended up adding a pearl necklace to the story...Margaret means "pearl." The French version, Marguerite, means "daisy." Hence the nickname.
This collage includes a few other graphics that sum up her character in just a couple sentences! *sighs* She's like an entire Shakespeare tragedy in one woman.
In fact, readers of Prisoner at Heart might remember this tragedy from Chapter 21. Rina describer her as "the girl who stood, head held high, blue eyes clear and as bright as a summer sky, in her chains near many others so like her in rags and covered in dirt. Her hands trembled as one gripped the child’s next to her and the other a strand of pearls around her neck, but she remained firm. Even when a price was called out, not nearly enough for a precious human being, and she was led away into the crowd."
I cannot begin to tell y'all of the struggles I have had with Margaret "Daisy" Amelia Sharow. She is such a contradiction, one I hope to introduce you to in a post very soon. My friend Ella designed this collage for her, which I think captures only one element of her persona. Her loyalty. It's both her greatest strength and her biggest flaw. Like I said, contradiction. Loyalty to her sister is what fuels her every action...but if you ask me and Keaton, it's borne of selfishness. (In Keaton's opinion, everything is born of selfishness and there is not a inkling of innate goodness in anyone ever - period and the end.)
While we're on Keaton, below is the playlist for BAD! 80% of these songs are for Keaton. In fact, Lifehouse (one of my favorite bands ever), has an album that is like a soundtrack for Keaton. Every song fits him so well!
You'll find, though, that the farther you go, the more the songs fit Daisy - which is due to me focusing more on her arc at that time. Not to mention, I threw in a few fun ones just because!
Wow! What a long post! This was soooo much fun, y'all! If you're interested in learning more, check out the following sneak peek posts!
Thank y'all so much for sticking with me to the end! This was SUCH a fun post, and I can't wait to share more and more about Bound and Determined! Y'all have a good one, and you know where I'll see ya!
#knowthenovel #linkup #introduction #boundanddetermined #aboutthebook #daisy #keaton #rina #heroine #characters #inspiration #meetthecharacter #playlists #collages #hintitsinthefunnypapers