I’m thrilled to have Suzanne Ferrell on the blog today to share with you details regarding her latest release and how it came to be. Sit back and enjoy. If you’re new to romantic suspense, welcome. If you’re new to the blog, welcome. I read this book and can’t wait to read the next book.
My review will post later this week and readers, this is one-click worthy!
SHANGHAIED: Or HOW A PIRATE BOOK BECAME A SPY BOOK
A year and a half ago, I was approached by a writer friend with the idea to do a pirate-themed novella for a group project. This gave me pause.
Me? Write a pirate book?
I don’t write nautical books, let alone pirate ones. My books are mostly contemporary. There’s a suspense series with the Edgars Family Novels. And a small-town series where suspenseful things keep happening in the Westen books. But I’ve never written a pirate book.
Now, my whole career has been a combination of can-I-do-it challenges and what-the-hell moments. Why should this be any different? So, I told my friend to give me a couple of weeks to think about it. She agreed. I considered how I could work a pirate book into my current series, either one. Since the Westen books all take place in a small town in Ohio, I pretty much ruled that series out as a possibility.
That left the Edgars books. While they’re based in Ohio, four of them in my hometown of Columbus, two others have been elsewhere. VANISHED took place in Cleveland and its follow-up novella UNMASKED was part of the CAPITAL DANGER 4-book anthology, which takes place in Washington DC. Since Cleveland is on Lake Erie, I considered making my hero an undercover agent of some sort, who was working to stop smuggling (a pirate trait) of goods or drugs or people through the northern ports.
Yeah! That could work. So, I told my friend I’d join the project. I had about nine months work on it. Plenty of time to write a novella. Yea, right. Sometimes life just laughs at our plans!
As I was zeroing in on this book’s concept, I also happened to be reading a magazine about the history of spies during WWII. I love that time period and find spy stories fascinating, especially true-life ones. In this magazine it talked of spies who arrived on the shores of America before we ever entered the war, and others who came by rafts from U-boats off the Atlantic coast.
The more I thought about the project and the spies, the more I wanted to shift my pirate book from contemporary to a WWII era piece. If I made it a pre-quel book to the Edgars, featuring the grandfather of Sami and her brothers it could still work for me. There were no set rules for this project, so I thought, “What the hell?” and proceeded, full speed ahead.
My hero, Zach Edgars was going to be an undercover ONI (Operations of Naval Intelligence…the precursor to NCIS) agent and he’d be looking for spies. Next question? Where?
Now research starts. First place to look was how did the spies get here? Some were immigrants from years before, others were deposited on our shores by U-boats. This led to how close did U-boats actually get to America? WAY CLOSER THAN YOU THINK. Right off the coast of the Outerbanks in North Carolina was a U-boat hunting ground. They sunk many boats heading north to be part of the Lend Lease program and supplying England with goods. There were no actual reports of spies landing there, that happened down in Florida and up near New England. So, why would I have my spies land in North Carolina? Was there a shipyard near the coast?
More research. Before we entered the war, President Roosevelt (FDR) signed a bill to allocate contracts to established ship building companies to build emergency shipyards to build newer boats both to replace the merchant marine and UK boats being sunk by the Germans, but to also increase America’s fleet, in preparation for entering the war, if and when that should occur. One of those contracts was to the Newport News Shipping company, who built a shipyard near Wilmington, NC. This was on the Cape Fear River that flowed into the Atlantic. AHA! I had my place on the map. Now I needed a place for my people.
Where do spies gather? Well, I’d watched CASABLANCA numerous times. Spies meet in bars, right? My hero is acting as a smuggler. Where better for smugglers to meet, than a bar, right? So, I needed a bar, but it had to have something to do with pirates. What’s a good pirate term? Pillaged? Nope. Scuttled? Nope. SHANGHAIED.
**Now I have to tell you a little about what happened during the writing of SHANGHAIED. My biggest supporter and biggest fan and biggest sounding board and sometimes critic…my Mom…died. Sort of took all the wind right out of my sails. Grief is a hard thing. It is NOT a creative thing. It’s not a quick thing. It is a lonely thing, even when you’re surrounded by loved ones who are there for you, who are supportive, who want to help. You must go through your grief at your own pace and your own ways. I still am. But each day gets better and each time I sit to write, I know Mom is at my shoulder telling me to, “Write a good story and make me like your characters.” **
Amid all this research, which I kept finding as I worked on the book, I lost my way. Yep. Sure did. I floundered a bit. Then found out the project had been cancelled. Great. I had a book I’d been working on and invested time in, so I couldn’t just set it aside. I also no longer had a need to focus on the pirate tie-in (which I kept) or keep the book novella size! WOOT! But even as I worked on the story and the plot, I knew in my gut something wasn’t right.
What’s a writer to do?
You print it all up, sit down and read it! Read it like a reader. And you know what I found out? My characters were blah. Also, if you’re writing romance, whether it’s suspense or comedy or just sweet, your hero and heroine should actually communicate with each other. Now I had to go back and add stuff. Not little stuff, but whole freaking scenes! Ugh! But when I finished it, I read it again like a reader and had that Ahhhh feeling. 😊 (Which I hope you guys will, too.)
That’s how SHANGHAIED came about. But another little thing happened while I was working on the book. Not only did Zach Edgars and Sophie Moore pop onto my radar, but so did the crew that worked with Zach. There’s five total: Neptune (Zach), Finn (Cowboy), Teddy (Boston), Warren (Chief), and Sean (Scout). Neptune’s Five. A new five book series was born!
You might say my little pirate novella was SHANGHAIED!
SHANGHAIED, an Edgars Family, Neptune’s Five book
It’s 1941. While Europe is emblazoned in a devastating war, America sits blissfully neutral. An ocean separates them from the conflict, but not everyone believes the states are safe from the Nazi threat.
Zach Edgars, code name Neptune, and his team of undercover ONI operatives are in North Carolina hunting German spies working on American soil. Their only clue is a slip of paper in a dead informant’s pocket that reads, Shanghaied in Wilmington.
Sophie Moore, grew up working in her father’s pub, the Shanghaied, situated near the newly built emergency shipyard. She’s used to dodging wayward hands and the occasional drunken brawl, but a newcomer in the dark trench coat and with the swagger of a pirate has her feeling nervous. Despite his involvement with the locals’ less-than legal activity, something about Neptune makes her think there might be more to the man.
When her friend goes missing, Sophie finds herself and her father’s bar thrust in the middle of a dangerous game of cloak and dagger. Can she trust this pirate, or will she and her father lose everything—life, love and liberty?
USA Today Bestselling author Suzanne discovered romance novels in her aunt’s hidden stash one summer as a teenager. From that moment on she knew two things: she loved romance stories and someday she’d be writing her own. Her love for romances has only grown over the years. It took her a number of years and a secondary career as a nurse to finally start writing her own stories.
Currently there are two main series she’s actively writing in: The Westen Series, a contemporary small town series based in a fictional Ohio town where “things aren’t always what they seem”, and features Close To Home, Close To The Edge and Close To The Fire. The second series is the Romantic Suspense books KIDNAPPED, HUNTED, SEIZED and VANISHED, featuring the Edgars family as they fight for justice, even if it means stepping slightly outside the rulebook.
KIDNAPPED and HUNTED were both Golden Heart finalist, and SEIZED, book #3 in the Edgars Family Novels, was a finalist in the novella category of the OKRWA’s National Reader’s Choice Awards contest.
Suzanne’s sexy stories, whether they be her on the edge of your seat romantic suspense or the small town romantic suspense stories they’ll keep you thinking about her characters long after their Happy Ever After is achieved.
You can Find Suz at: