I'm a fan of nautical fiction and got tired of the mainstream novels without gay characters, or, when they did, settingNot a review: Author commentary
I'm a fan of nautical fiction and got tired of the mainstream novels without gay characters, or, when they did, setting them up as nasty little incompetent minor characters whose sole reason for existence was to get knocked down by the big manly straight hero. A couple of years ago, I got disgusted and said, "I'm a writer. I'll write one for my own amusement." It snowballed from there.
I started off with the standard formula of the genre: we meet our hero. He gets his orders. He finds his ship. He meets his fellow officers. The difference was, Lt. Peter Thorton was gay and he had a hopeless secret crush on his best friend and fellow lieutenant, Roger Perry. That gave the material an interesting and different twist -- and it's hard to be interesting and different in a genre that's been published for 250 years.
In the beginning I thought that some how he and Perry were going to make it work, but they didn't. Captain Bishop was a rat bastard and made Thorton's life miserable, ultimately stranding him aboard a sinking galley. And who did Thorton find chained to a bench? Captain Tangle, the most notorious corsair of the age, condemned to death in the galleys. Tangle sprang fully grown from my head and did his damnedest to take over the story :)
At first I simply wrote and didn't worry about history, I was entertaining myself. I showed it to a friend, who loved it. I showed it to some other friends, who loved it. And some found it a cure for insomnia and never finished it :) It appears to be the sort of book that either you love, or it puts you to sleep. That's the case for any book, really.
I was now getting hooked on the fact that other people liked it, so I posted the draft to fictionpress.com. People there liked it too, and it won a Sweet Revolution Award in the category of 'best full cast.' Some reviewers even said, "This is so good, I feel like I ought to be paying money for it..."
Oh, the temptation.
However, the thing was for fun, and having published books before, I knew that getting published, marketing, etc, was a lot of hard work. I didn't want it to be work. I did send some queries, got turned down, shrugged, walked away... and came back.
I happen to be a successful poet who has edited and published journals and books and non-fiction. I also had two dear friends that have a hard time reading online stuff, so I decided to do it up as a print-on-demand book so that I could give them trade paperbacks as a gift. As long as I'm doing that, I might as well get an ISBN and sell it to the general public. Once that happened, it got good reviews and Bristlecone Pine Press picked up the entire series to publish as ebooks.
Before all that happened Peter Thorton fell in love. So I had to write the second book. And the third. And the fourth... More characters appeared. What to do about Bishop? That was actually the hardest thing to figure out, but I'm quite satisfied with what happens to him in PoNS 2. Captain Tangle reappears and meets his match in the dour Captain Ebenezer Horner. Horner was my ripoff of Horatio Hornblower -- but I thought Hornblower had way too much good luck to be believed, so poor Horner may well be the unluckiest captain in the British navy. He is a very different personality as a result. I won't reveal any spoilers. We find out his story in PoNS 3 : Iron Men.
New characters keep appearing. I do my best to make them each unique and different, true to themselves, whatever that may be: mad duke, bookish hero, charming rogue -- there are so many different sorts of people in the world. There ought to be different sorts of people in fiction. They come from all different races, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds. I have tried to make them as real as possible while creating an adventure tale that is sheer swashbuckling fun.