Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big W the second - "Why Bermuda???"

I've written two books now.  Both based in Bermuda.  The question that I get asked the most from readers, friends, and people I meet is "Why did you base them in Bermuda?"   I think that a lot of folks are curious because they want to write their own novel and don't know how to start.   I agree with that.   The starting is the hard part.  Once I start, the words flow out of me like water through a strainer. 

First and foremost, I don't know where my books are going to go when I start them.  I just have an idea, and start.   I keep a little flowchart down at the bottom of the story.   Generally when I'm driving, new ideas will pop into my head.  I add them to the flowchart.   After having written about 40 pages, the flowchart has the next five or six scenes/chapters in it.  Once I'm to about page 150, often the flowchart has the rest of the book all charted out.  It's magic.   Poof!     The second half of books that I write is the easiest as I just pull up the manuscript and pick the next line on flowchart and write that scene.   The tough days are when I see a 'tough' scene to write coming up.   That is often when I don't write for a few days.   Want to compose my thoughts and do it justice.

So... why do I base them in Bermuda?   I have been to Bermuda about 12 times.  I love the island.   I go there to scuba dive, and love anything in the water.   It's close to home and the flight is only 1 1/2 hours.  I also get a great rate at the Fairmont South Hampton which helps.   I look forward with a small amount of grumbling in my stomach to dining at their restaurants.   The Waterlot is my favorite, followed closely by Bacchi.    But I always have dinner my last night on the island down at their restaurant on the water.   I think it's called the Ocean Club at this point.  (the name has changed a couple times).   But, it's perched out on a craggily rock outcropping, with waves crashing up against the rocks.  When you can sit outside, it is amazingly wonderful.

I live vicariously.   I love sending my characters on a drive around the island.  I can see where they are.  In my head I can mentally picture the scene that they see in front of them.    "Scott maneuvered his car across the bridge near the airport, the huge orange hotel Grotto Bay looming in his rear view mirror."    or...   "Scott and Steve sat outside smoking some extremely good cigars on the patio of the Waterlot by the harbor."     Hmmm....  My mind travels back to many of my trips.

So, the simple answer is...  I write about Bermuda so I can travel with my characters.   I don't really do character development before a story.   They just grow into their own as I write.   I make them go to all the places that I want to be at. 

My first book, "Sunset over the Hermes"  concludes its story at the Hermes shipwreck.   I have scuba dived that wreck.   And can see it in my head.   However, I am very glad that I did not have to deal with what Scott and Lily did.

My second book, "A Home With no Roof," has a picture on the cover of the Unfinished Church in Bermuda over in St. George.    The day that I visited the picturesque site during on trip, the story idea popped into my head.    Oh, don't get me wrong I took MASSIVE literary liberties with the architecture and I am quite uncertain whether or not there is a tunnel from the Church underground over to the St. Catherine fort.    But who knows?  There might be.   And it worked for me.  

After writing my first book, I tried a novel set in Santorini, over in Greece.   That was my favorite Greek island, and I figured that the Bermuda one had been SO enjoyable to write, that Greece would be just as fun.   It wasn't.    I don't know if it was because my mind wasn't in Bermuda, or whether I just simply didn't have engaging enough characters.   It wasn't as fun, and after about 50 pages, I abandoned it.   Now that my second Bermuda book is done, I've been thinking about going back to it.    But, I think I'm a better writer now, and will probably revise it quite a bit.

I have travelled many places in the world.  But have always enjoyed my time on MY island.  Bermuda is so comfortable and quaint.   I don't like places like Jamaica or Aruba.   Sue me, but I really don't like sitting on a beach and having a questionable man come up to me offering to sell me small white rocks.  Dust, whatever it was.     An event like that my friends, has never even entered my mind while on the British island of Bermuda.   It is a proper place.   The people are pleasant and engaging.  The food is amazing, and the water calls to me to jump in for a cooling swim.    I still struggle with my golf there, but that's my own problem.   I will continue to wage that war in the five inches between my ears.

So...  I guess my point (Is there one?) is this.   If you want to sit down and write a novel, base it somewhere that you have a mental connection to.  It will be easier for you.    If you spent summers in Cape Cod as a child, set your characters up there.     Just my opinion (I think that's what blogs are for), but I don't think I could ever write a novel set in China.  I've never been there.    Oh, scratch that, I'm sure I could write it.   But...... I.........wouldn'     nope.  wouldn't.

Many friends have been after me to write a pure romance.   Their favorite parts of my first book were the romantic interludes, and relationship angst.     I think I'm going to give it a try.   I have plenty of material in my mind.    I have enjoyed many things throughout my life.    

In "Sunset" one scene was commented on by Scott Mathias.... "when it comes to boxer shorts, Lily has very talented toes."   

Hmmmm.. indeed.   That person did indeed.   Her name wasn't Lily though.  Have to protect the innocent of course.    Did I say innocent?    Hmmm again...   Like any intelligent man, my entire life I have let women lead the back and forth... They lead, I respond.    Never force it...  I read a blog recently about french kissing.   Very insightful.   Men would be smart to read it...   They will thank their lucky stars later if they do.

So... send your mind out, to places that you can call home in your memories.  Set your characters there, and then put them through the motions...   It will make writing more fun for you.   At least it does for me.


  1. I write about NYC, this is the city that inspires me the most. It still takes me more time to write out of angst, because I like to just let the reader be overwhelmed with emotions when reading my stories. It's raw and it hurts, but it's beautiful.

    Never been to Bermuda, nor Aruba. I don't like touristy places.... Is Bermuda very touristy?

    You shd read my latest post. If after that men don't know how to handle a woman, they're really retarded.

    Cheers to you and keep writing. I'll read your books once I'm done with the other 100 books I have to read.


  2. I enjoyed your blog post, it made me think again about my choice to use a fictional town in my book. I think I ended up taking bits and pieces of places that were important to me at different parts of my life and fitting them together to make up a town. That part was fun.

    Cheers! :)