Dear Readers, I'm excited to share this new book with you.
Welcome, Don and Stephanie. I know that this is a collaboration. How did this story come about?
Steph: Funny that Don is the one who got us started. He is dyslexic, therefore hated writing, and seldom read anything growing up other than comic books. I always loved reading and writing and wanted to be an author. When I became a wife and mom, I simply forgot about the dream. Then one day, at age 57, Don told me this storyline was stuck in his head, and he wanted to publish it as a novel. I confess I snickered. He worked at it for four years before inviting me to join him. I figured I’d be nice and correct the spelling and grammar, but instead I fell in love with the story. Little did I know that I had to “learn to write” too. It has taken us ten years to reach publication, but sharing the “passion” has been a fantastic experience.
Did you find it easy to work together on it?
Don: It really helped to have a division of labor. While I wrote the initial draft, I realized I had to turn my precious baby over to Steph and trust her feminine sensibilities to soften the way I’d told the story. At first I gritted my teeth at any suggestion of change, but as we read how-to books together and attended writers’ conferences, I realized the worth of literary surgery on my poor child.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Don: It ultimately caused me to love my wife more as I grew in respect for her. I marveled at the way she was able to elegantly express ideas that I was just clumsy with.
Steph: I tend to be a global thinker and often reduce my knowledge to the bottom line. Over and over I was impressed with the details Don had imbedded in the story, especially from his experiences as a Marine Corps reservist and
Viet Nam veteran. I also discovered
that although he wasn’t a big reader, all those movies he watched had made him
into an excellent plotter. Most important for both of us was that collaborating
on our novel created a terrifically enjoyable bond for us as husband and wife.
What is the hardest thing about writing as a team?
Steph: We rarely disagree but when we do, we feel free as husband and wife to, um, clearly express ourselves. However, with forty-nine years of marriage under our belts, we also know how to get over it, find a way to agree, and move on. Being Christians with access to prayer definitely makes a difference.
I so understand that statement. James and I just celebrated our 50th anniversary last month. What are you reading right now?
Don: I like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series because there is lots of action and the story is not slowed with unnecessary description.
Steph: Our church has a women’s book club, so right now I’m reading A Different Sun by Elaine Neil Orr for them, and the Brother Cadfael mystery series for me.
How did you choose your characters’ names?
Steph: Poor Don, we’ve ended up changing most of the names he started out with. He had all the first names of the protagonist’s family begin with J, and all the names of the antagonist’s family begin with R. Not any more! The protagonist’s last name is Chalmers, which is a family name in Don’s ancestry. Otherwise, the names were randomly chosen or selected from a list for the year they were born.
Would you want to work on another book together?
Don: I have the rough drafts of five novels waiting on Steph.
Steph: Ouch! I’m working on book two but am a slow writer and probably won’t live long enough to get through Don’s list. He’ll have to die before I do so he won’t end up disappointed, LOL!
What do you want to tell us about the book?
Don: It’s one men will enjoy reading.
Steph: Women too, of course! I think having a man and a woman co-author it has made it an attractive mixture of adventure and suspense on the one hand, and warm relationships plus symbolic spiritual layers on the other hand.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The heavens faded from black to dusky blue, arching like an inverted bowl over the inky waters below. Sprawled across a fragment of boat, Jake Chalmers scanned the horizon. Darkness cloaked the expanse to the west, but in the east the circle of the earth etched a line of gold between ocean and sky. Pushing himself chest high, arms shaking, he studied the line for movement. Nothing. Nothing but the rising sun.
He rolled to his back and threw an arm over his eyes. Seawater dripped off his sleeve, stinging the cracks in his lips. He winced and pressed them together. A scum of brine coated the inside of his mouth, numbing his tongue and the back of his throat. Swallowing to generate saliva blazed a trail of salt down his esophagus. His stomach heaved, but there was nothing to expel, not even bile.
So thirsty. The craving ground like fine sandpaper against every cell in his body. Forty-two years old and he’d never experienced misery like this, not even in
Nam. He raised
his arm and flexed his fingers, blinked until the crinkled skin on the back of
his hand came into focus. Were the wrinkles a symptom of dehydration? Or the
result of floating five nights in the ocean?
He shifted back onto his stomach and hooked his left arm over the edge of the fragment to keep his balance. The flat-bottomed vessel, split in half lengthwise by the explosion and flipped into an upside-down V, barely accommodated the stretch of his six-foot-two frame. The submerged air compartments that had doubled as tourist passenger seats kept the damaged craft afloat, but the V tipped precariously with each swash of a wave.
He’d count, clear the haze from his mind. Count the days since he’d boarded the cruise ship. The days alone on the ocean after the explosion. The hours, the minutes, every second of the rest of his life he’d spend hunting down Captain Emilio.
He sat up, catapulted by the heat of rage. The boat fragment jerked, and he fell on his back and slid, grasping with outflung arms at the wet surface. The ocean swallowed his feet, his chest. The bucking craft smacked his head as he slipped off. Blood filled his mouth, stinging his tongue where his teeth slashed it. He caught the edge of the vessel, pulled up, and spat. Crimson dots spattered the craft’s white paint.
Ginny. The ache for her pressed against his chest. Where was she? Floating like him in the ocean? Or had she slipped under the waves to a briny grave? He closed his eyes. Tired. So tired. Wanting to save her. Failing. His throat tightened.
He repositioned his grip and willed himself not to let go. Willed himself to fill his lungs and release the air in a slow exhale. Willed himself to crawl back onto the broken sea vessel. He lay on his stomach and stretched his limbs into a sprawl.
God and man may have abandoned him, but he wouldn’t yield body and soul easily. The ocean would have to wait.
Wow! I can hardly wait for my copy of the book to come. Where can our readers find you on the Internet?
Steph: Stranded: A Novel is available for only $2.99 on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OQGJBUY
Lena, for inviting
us to your blog! Your readers rock!
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