Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Captain of Her Heart, Volume I of the Buchanan Saga

The Captain of Her Heart, Volume I of the Buchanan Saga

Featured song: “The Captain of Her Heart” by Double

As you can see, I was inspired very much by a song, so much so that I used the same title. Titles are not copyrighted, so there was no issue there, but just for fun I wrote to “Double” and informed them of my intentions. They sent a very kind letter back and were pleased.

I originally wrote this book in 1986-1987 and my attempts to sell it were met with many rejections. Years later when I pulled out the manuscript to read it, the rejections made complete sense. By that time I had actually learned how to write and I could see how poorly written it had been. I remember thinking as I read it for the first time in many years that it was so horrible I should just throw it away, but by the time I reached the end I was able to find a great plot hidden amidst the terrible prose. It took an enormous amount of work to pull that story out and nurture it into something that I could feel good about. My original story proved to be complex enough to require two books to pull it together, so part one is this book, and part two is Captive Hearts which I talk about in a separate entry.

I’ve never claimed to be a historian, and I really don’t like doing historical research. In most cases, when I’ve written historical fiction, the story hasn’t integrated with any actual events. In this case, the Revolutionary War was part of the conflict and the plot had to mesh into the circumstances of the war. I always hated it, however, when a novel would slow down for long, detailed history lessons. I always felt like the author was needing to brag about the research they’d done, whether it fit into the story or not. In this case, I made certain that history only came up as far as it tied directly into the plot or related to the characters’ circumstances. The war itself ended up being somewhat metaphorical of the relationship between Ritcherd and Kyrah, which was something that kind of surprised me as I paused to analyze what I’d actually written in my original draft. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the way that Ritcherd shifts his beliefs on the cause of the colonists as he is forced into committing treason for the sake of finding Kyrah. One of my favorite scenes is when Ritcherd tries on the tricorn in the second-hand store and looks at himself in the mirror. (It’s on pages 184 and 185 of the print version if you want to refresh your memory.) There is a great deal of metaphorical depth and power in this brief introspection of Ritcherd’s, and this is where the shift begins to take place. The patriotic messages in this book are dear to my heart.

When I originally wrote this book, I didn’t have much experience in using my creative gift. I remember feeling very stuck with the plot and I tried many different avenues to get it to move forward, but nothing was working. All the while in my head I kept seeing Ritcherd breaking dishes. I resisted the image thinking he was a dignified gentleman and he wouldn’t do any such thing. Finally I stopped to ask myself what would make a man like Ritcherd throw dishes. The answer became the missing key to my plot. After that I learned to trust my creative instincts and to let the characters speak for themselves . . . if that makes sense (in a mildly psychotic kind of way).

This book and the other three volumes of the Buchanan Saga were self-published, as you may have noticed. The simple reason for this is that the LDS publishing and retail industry took a
dramatic shift in their policies. My work didn’t change, but their rules did, so they wouldn’t publish or sell the book. This series never sold very well because I simply didn’t have the resources to market and distribute it under the circumstances. It was a very UNprofitable endeavor that actually set me back with enormous debt. It was a great learning experience, but an expensive one. At least I know that my devoted readers enjoyed the story.

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