Grace A. Johnson
PAH Anniversary Week (Day 5: Name of the Week)
Well, Monday is always (all right, almost always) my Name of the Week day. And since I'm in the middle of sharing the exclusive behind-the-scenes of Prisoner at Heart in honor of its ONE YEAR anniversary on Thursday, I'll be giving y'all the scoop on one of the many names in Prisoner at Heart.
Except--wait! I've already done both Elliot and Crimson's name, as well as Rina, Xavier, Maverick, and Collin. Aside from a few minor characters, who else has a name I could do?
The book itself.
Where did the title Prisoner at Heart come from? How does it fit the story?
Well, the answers to those questions are pretty simple, so y'all can imagine this will be a short post.
Prisoner at Heart was a title and an inkling of a story idea before Crimson even existed. When I was the early stages of writing Held Captive, I knew Elliot Fulton Sr was going to get a story. Way back in the day with "The Lady Pirate," he wasn't going to have a happily ever after of his own, but once I got to know him, I knew that he deserved a story.
Prisoner at Heart was automatically the title. It fit with the theme of being held captive or prisoner--and of course you can tell how that spilled over into my choice for Keaton's title, Bound and Determined.
Well, at first I had no idea nor character for Elliot. I'd played around with a couple small ideas and even names for the heroine (the one I remember using was Raven), but nothing ever came of them.
Then, for some odd reason or another, I decided that--whoop! Timothy Wilde should have children. It all began, really, which Chapter 5 of Held Captive, the first moment you meet both Crimson, Timothy, and Julius.
Fuming as he always was around that Blackstone brat, Timothy Wilde slammed his bottle of rum down on the barrel before him and met the taunting glare of Julius Blackie. “If’n ye say one more word, J-Julius, I’ll be a-slittin’ yer throat ‘fore ye’d blink. Dinna ye be a-talkin’ about tha’ father o’ yers, y’hear?”
He was standing now, he realized, though he swayed more than he ought to. And the ship seemed to be rocking quite hard. For a split second, he glanced up at the sky, but not a cloud was there with the flaming stars above.
Julius smirked as he stood, that expression so much like his father’s that it made Timothy’s stomach turn. Or maybe the feeling was from all the rum he’d drank tonight.
“Oh, can’t be talkin’ ‘bout my father, you say? You mean you don’ wanna be hearin’ no stories of the greatest pirate captain to ever sail the Seven Seas, right next to Rina? Why, I’ll be dogged! Well, I bet you’re just jealous, ain’t ya, Ole Timmy?” he questioned, his voice slurring even more the louder he spoke.
“Why, you slimy scallywag! I ain’t no jealous. And yer father wasna no pirate, just a yellow-bellied coward, I tell ye,” was Timothy’s reply as he unsheathed his cutlass and held it up to Julius’ collarbone. But just as soon as his arm was extended, a strong hand gripped it and tugged it back, sharp fingernails digging into the flesh of his forearm.
Timothy glanced at the person behind him, sighing when he met the blazing blue glare of his eldest daughter Crimson.
“I shan’t be havin’ none of this, Da. Yer both three sheets to the wind, and I ain’t gonna be the one to cast ye o’erboard come midnight ‘cause of yer stupidity,” Crimson stated, her expression stern.
“Fer pity’s sake, Crimmy, I ain’t gonna die. But, if ye say so,” he said, sheathing his sword before tossing Julius a deadly glare. “Yet if I ‘ear one more word...” Timothy let his words trail off.
One day, he would have all those Blackstones dead, even if it were the very last thing he did.
From there came Tomas and Scarlette as well, and their interesting personalities. Of course, all three of them have changed quite a bit since I'd first dreamt them up, but from that moment on I knew that Crimson was meant for Elliot and that she was the "prisoner at heart."
I never tied the title in with the story as explicitly as some authors do with theirs (or as I did with Held Captive, in which I use that phrase a hundred time), but I have two scenes which allude to the meaning. Of course, 'tis rather obvious, but it could be applied to any number of characters and situations within the story.
The first one is in Chapter 11, when Crimson wakes up to find herself aboard the Rina as a guest and not the daughter of the captain's lifelong nemesis. I've underlined the sentence that is connected to the title
“Good morning, you two!”
Ugh… Such cheer. And so false, so forced. As was the smile that appeared on Blackie’s face, so unlike the little grin I knew so well. Fake. Unnatural. Nervous, even. Which was really quite contradictory in terms of Blackie’s personality. Because she was all confidence. All arrogance. Or at least she had been, ten years ago. When said arrogance had been well-earned and deserved. Now...she was pathetic.
Because no good captain brought their prisoners breakfast.
But then, in accordance to whatever she’d said last night about us being guests, we technically were not prisoners. And that was just as false as her cheer. We may not be bound by chain, but we were bound by pain.
Oh, what do you know, that rhymed!
And the second is a favorite of mine, from the very last chapter, Chapter 30, in which Elliot nicknames Crimson his "little prisoner."
“Ah, thrown up in the air, ye say? That be a proposition?” My persistent husband inched nearer, settling his hands on my waist.
No, no, no, no, no!
I took a tiny step forward, ‘til only a sheet of paper had room to squeeze through, reached up and fiddled with the buttons of his shirt. “Nay. But this is.” I planted a kiss on the dimple in his chin, moving down to the next button.
A low growl emitted from his throat as his arms snaked around me, lifting me only an inch off my feet. He stumbled back, kissing the tip of my nose, the side of my cheek, the curve of my neck. “I ever told you,” he mumbled as we fell against the bed, “how much I love you?”
Yes. More times within the last few weeks than I could count. But not nearly enough.
“Tell me again.”
“I love you, my little prisoner.”
So, yeah. Crimson was a "prisoner at heart." Sure, she was a freewoman, but on the inside? Lilith reveals in Chapter 28 just how many demons hold her captive. I'd share that, but it's a rather long scene...and kind of a spoiler for those who haven't read the book!
The title may have come about as simply a connection to Held Captive and just as a story for Elliot, but it eventually became Crimson for me. And Rina and Julius and Elliot, and even Tomas and Scarlette. All of these characters--all of us--are held captive by something. Maybe it's physical, like a disability. Maybe it's emotional or mental, like an addiction or something so simple as a wrong mindset. Sometimes, it seems like there is absolutely no way out, no escape, no freedom.
But I'm hear to tell you that there is freedom and liberty--in the name of Jesus. And this is a truth that I expound upon even more in Bound and Determined, as four Christians who are held captive by sin and death learn that they can have true liberty in Christ!
Join me tomorrow for the thought process behind Prisoner at Heart, how I made it through the rough spots, and even how I felt when I finally finished!
Excerpts from Held Captive and Prisoner at Heart: Copyright © 2019 Grace Ann Johnson