Award-winning author Chris A. Jackson talks about writing his latest Pathfinder Tales novel, Pirate's Promise, and how living full-time aboard a 45-foot sailboat in the Caribbean inspires his tales of love, espionage, and high-seas adventure:
A night as black as a devil's soul. No moon, no stars, only a light breeze in the sails and the roar of surf off the bow. We can't see it, but we can hear it, each successive crash of the sea against razor sharp coral a death knell that grabs your gut and gives a little twist. Our chart is crap, no radar, no GPS, only a compass and a depth sounder, and the soundings keep getting shallower. Did I mention the engine had quit? All we wanted was shelter from the seas for the night, but we didn't arrive until after dark; now we're committed. When it feels right, you turn into the wind, furl the sail, and drop anchor. It holds. We're safe. Deep sigh of relief, and where's the rum?
This is how I researched "approaching a shore in the dark" for Pirate's Promise. I don't recommend it. I researched "heavy weather" off the Oregon coast in 60 knot winds and 35 foot breaking seas. When one of those waves hits the boat, every item in the cabin becomes airborne and slams against the wall, including you. Your face is pressed against a window as the boat lies on its side, a thin layer of Lexan between you and a mile deep ocean, ready to take you... greedy, hungry. I don't recommend that either.
Okay, so this wasn't exactly research, but I use these experiences when I write nautical fiction. There have also been plenty of beautiful nights with skies so full of stars you can't see the constellations, and whales, and dolphins, and palm trees... and rum for the times both good and bad.
Looks like I've found my niche, or at least part of it. The other part seems to be making romance part of the plot, but better... because it's Pathfinder! Yes, she's a snake! So what? Beauty isn't just scale deep, you know!
How did I do my research on the romance? Well... I do recommend falling in love, and not just for literary research interests. Yeah, I can hear that one: "So, you wanna research a novel with me?" Still, there's nothing like experiencing that exquisite stupidity of being in love to add some realism to your romance writing.
I'm not telling how I researched Vreva Jhafae...
But if there's something else you want to know about Pirate's Honor or Pirate's Promise, let's discuss it. I'd like to hear what everyone thinks, likes, or wants. With a lifetime's worth of sea stories, there must be something you want to know.
To quote 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: "It's a whale of a tale, and it's all true. I swear by my tattoo!"
Chris A. Jackson
Pathfinder Tales Author
Be sure to catch Chris A. Jackson on tonight's Know Direction podcast at 5:30 PM Pacific time and look out for Pirate's Prophecy, the next volume in the series, in February 2016!