I've always been one of those kinds of people that has a really difficult time sitting still. I love to move around, to experience new people and new places, and I often find inspiration in these adventures which find their ways into my stories in ways that range from the largest ideas to the tiniest details. I'll be spending quite a bit of time traveling this year, so I thought I would share some of these lovely visits with you, in case they inspire you as well.
Of all my favorite places in this great big beautiful world, perhaps the one that holds the biggest piece of my heart is the open ocean and the beaches of the Caribbean. I shamelessly try to visit as often as possible, often repeating the same trip exactly and every time enjoying it as if it were a brand new experience. It was on these waters and in these sands that I wrote The Isle of Gold, both in terms of the inspiration for the story and a significant amount of the research that went into writing the details down as accurately as possible. I dreamed of Winters one night on the stretch of nautical miles between Port Canaveral, Florida and the Bahamas. I sat on the outer deck of a ship late at night and sipped on rum and brandy like Dunn while staring out at the open waters of the nighttime sea. I wandered museums and roamed the streets of Nassau and thought about quayside villages of the past. It was a wonderful experience to spend so much time writing a historical fantasy while entrenched in the places that the story might have lived and to feel the same salty air and see the same dazzling blue seas as 17th-century sailors would have sailed upon.
Here are some of my favorite snaps collected over the years when visiting the Bahamas. Spring or summer, sunny or overcast, this tropical paradise is - in this writer's ever-humble opinion - easily one of those most spectacular places on Earth.
Wow! My head is still spinning from last week's release of The Isle of Gold. What an incredible debut release. I am so grateful for all of the support and excitement over the launch of this adventurous, empowering fantasy, and I finally get to answer one question that I've been asked over and over again: yes there is a sequel coming!
In fact, The Isle of Gold is the first installment of the Daughters Jones Trilogy! Look for the next installment in 2019, and definitely stay subscribed for updates.
Every book needs a great soundtrack, and if you're just settling down with Merrin and crew, I'd love to invite you to listen to this one on Spotify, created by reader Samantha Walker. Thanks, Samantha! You've done an incredible job--this soundtrack is superb!
Do you NaNoWriMo? I'm trying it for the first time this year, using the time to write a novella that I am very excited to tell you about soon! If you're writing, I'd love to support each other. I can't figure out how to send a writing buddy link, but I'm writing as @sevenjanewrites!
Courtesy of The Tome and Tankard Inn.
The Isle of Gold is a pirate fantasy based in real history, so I felt it fitting to make a cocktail based on a genuine historical recipe. Bumbo was a popular cocktail designed to improve the taste of rum rations. Originally this was made up of rum, water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Scurvy was typically a bigger problem for the Navy, who would spend many months at a time at sea and with a larger crew than a pirate ship – a pirate’s diet contained more fresh fruit and vegetables than you might expect, so citrus wasn’t necessary in Bumbo. However, for my purposes (and to make my cocktail delicious) I have adapted the recipe to include lime juice and coconut rum, keeping to the spirit of the drink but making it a little tastier. Therefore, this is the Riptide‘s own version.
You will need:
Take your cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Add rum, malibu, lime juice, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Shake vigorously and strain into your tumbler. Spear your slice of lime and pineapple chunk on a cocktail stick and add as garnish.
Enjoy! And when the Charybdis makes the room spin, tell it in no uncertain terms that you will not be taken by the sea.
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Kristin of Oh!FortheloveofBooks and answer some of her burning questions about The Isle of Gold--from Merrin's sexuality to my favorite member of the Riptide's crew. Check out a sneak peek of Q&A below, and don't miss out on her exclusive giveaway to win an ARC of the book for yourself!
Is Seven Jane your author name? And if so where did you come up with it?
It is! Seven Jane was actually the name I’d picked out for my daughter, if I’d had one. I never had a daughter, so I decided to keep the name for myself.
A reader (Uhm myself) happened to notice it seemed Merrin might be BiSexual, do you consider this true?
I think Merrin would say that love transcends boundaries of gender, race, time, or realm, and I would agree with her! We still have a lot to learn about her relationship with Claudette, but I would certainly consider the two women to be deeply in love, regardless of whether that is friendship, sisterhood, or romance. I think it’s all three.
Where did you get the inspiration for The Isle Of Gold?
It was inspired by a dream, and by my deep and relentless love of the ocean and pirate folklore. Actually, the catalyst for the story was a dream in which I was trapped on a small island (not much larger than a boulder) in the middle of the ocean, and the only way for me to escape the rock was to tether myself to someone else in the dream—someone much like Winters—as we had to depend on each other to survive. I woke up feeling both unable to live without this person, and doomed to be trapped with him, which opened up my imagination to the story that eventually became Winters and Evangeline’s, Davy and the sea goddess’, and even, as we are just beginning to see, Merrin and Tom Birch’s.
If you were a character in your book, who would you be?
Probably Erik Winters. I, too, am prone to fits of terrible grouchiness, rarely brush my already-unruly hair, and am fiercely loyal to those I love.
How do you think your characters would react if they met you and knew you wrote their story?
I think their reactions would be as varied as their personalities, but I definitely think I’d stick by Tom Birch in the event they all confronted me, and count on his diplomacy, just in case.
Is book two in the works?
I can officially say that yes, it is! I am so excited! I’ll be sharing more very soon on my website, so be sure to subscribe for updates at http://www.sevenjane.com/!
What will you be doing on October 9th 2018?
Hiding from social media, and drinking rum—really.
What advice would you give to others out there writing books and hoping to be published?
No matter what you do, keep writing. Surround yourself with other writers, and readers your trust. Lift each other up, and succeed as a community of artists.
Check out more on Kristin's blog here.
The day has finally come and I couldn't be more thrilled. The new booktrailer for The Isle of Gold has officially been released from Black Spot Books, and it is everything I imagined it could be--I'm not the only one with goosebumps, right?
I’ve always been a fan of pirate stories and ocean folklore, and I wanted THE ISLE OF GOLD to both fit in with classic tales, like Treasure Island, and stand apart from them—and to not get lost in the sensationalism of Hollywood pirate dramas that retell mythology on their own terms. In writing a historical fantasy of the pirate era the main thing I wanted the story to do was avoid tropes of peg legs, talking parrots, and buried treasure while making use of real mythology and actual ocean phenomenon while abiding by rigorously researched historical truths on the people who sailed, the ships they sailed on, and the lives they lived at sea. In addition to these, this story served as an opportunity to touch on some of today’s most pressing societal issues of diversity and inclusion, from women’s rights, to racism, to romance and love outside of the heternormative.
In terms of the natural world, two uncommon real phenomena that were mentioned in the story were frost flowers and the green flash of light on the ocean (no, Hollywood didn’t make that up for Pirates of the Caribbean!). Frost flowers are delicate ice structures that “bloom” on the surface of the polar oceans in the dead of winter. Likewise, green flashes are most often seen at sunset, last only a second or two, and are essentially a result of light refraction and visual trickery as the sun suddenly and briefly changes colors. Here’s a cool article on the green flashes, which, because they are so unusual, have provided much fodder for paranormal speculation by sailors over the years!
Legends of the mystical island Bracile and the red-sailed ghost ship Caleuche are just as steeped in ocean folklore as the cursed goddess turned sea monster Charybdis and sirens…especially the not so beautiful kind. I wanted to bring in one iconic pirate name, and while I drew from several real pirates in building Winters and Merrin’s characters, Davy Jones came directly from legend—(both as a real man and an idiom for the bottom of this sea). Jökulsárlón, and its neighboring Diamond Beach in Iceland became the perfect setting for a real-world embodiment of Bracile.
The ships, their rigging, and their weaponry was all brought from historical research on 17th century sailing culture. As I began to research these in earnest, a few interesting facts rose to the top, particularly in the lack of diversity on these vessels. While we tend to think of pirates as ragtag crews of every nation and color, it wasn’t necessarily true. In fact, even white men pirates still practiced the normal racism and biases of the time, often trading and profiting from the slave trade themselves. It was rare to see a person of color in a position of power onboard a pirate vessel, much less one who was beloved and respected. For this role, Jomo was introduced. Likewise, with the exception of a very few and very famous female pirates (Anne Bonney, Mary Read, etc.) women were not allowed to sail. In fact, in the pirate code written by Bartholomew Roberts, women were not only forbidden to sail, but to bring one aboard was punishable by death. This alone gave Merrin an incentive to keep her identity and sex a secret from the men on the ship. Lastly, a profession as a whore was just as taboo as sexual empowerment by women of the time (or empowerment of any kind, really) and this norm was challenged by Claudette, Mrs. Emery, and even Evangeline herself. There are subtle hints throughout the story to a more romantic than platonic love between Merrin and Claudette, too, proving the currents of love run according to their own desire, regardless of race or gender—and this also affected the budding romance between Merrin and Tom Birch, was remained understated as falling in love was never Merrin’s goal when she set out to sea.
Writing The Isle of Gold was as fantastic an adventure as the story itself. Part history, part mythology, and part imagination, this story drew as much from real sea phenomenon as it did from some of the oldest sea legends on record, told by a strong protagonist who acts as a lens of crystallization for deeper diversity issues that linger just below the surface of a fantastical pirate adventure.
This blog was posted as a guest blog on Misadventures of a Reader.