You may be wondering about how romantic a romance author's life actually is. Forget bonbons, mink-lined slippers and thong-clad cabana boys. My writing friend Marcella Burnard actually lives on a sailboat! How's that for romantic?
Marcella is part of the fabulous critique group I belonged to when I lived in Seattle. She joined the group after I left, but I still feel a kinship with her. And I feel nothing but envy for her life aboard a sailboat! She's offered to share a bit with us about that life today. Take it away, Marcella!
Nine months out of the year, my husband, my cats and I live aboard this 34’ Performance Cruising Catamaran. It’s 14’ wide. Inside, that gives us roughly 300 square feet of living space. Why does this matter? Emily, long may her books sell spectacularly well, has graciously invited me to blog about what it’s like living aboard a sailboat. I hope it will provide some insight into what life might have been like aboard the historic ships that populate a few of Emily’s books.
I know that life aboard has certainly informed my writing. I write science fiction romance. My first book, Enemy Within, comes out in November of this year. A good portion of that story takes place in space, aboard ships. One of the things I can say with confidence that crosses all time periods and genres is that room on a ship is an issue. No matter where you’re standing in the boat, you’re in someone else’s way. Passages and companionways are wide enough for one person. Everything else is dedicated to storage, equipment and the stuff that makes the boat go. Everything brought aboard must do double or triple duty.
Boats do not have the space for anything that does one job. Even the anchor will do more than one job in a pinch (like pulling you off the bottom when you’ve run aground, heaven forbid). My bread pans hold spice bottles when not actually cooking something. The cats are multi-useful. They’re an extra layer of warmth at night. They’re endlessly entertaining, and they scare away the seagulls so I don’t have to scrub seagull poop from the decks. Often.
Ships require enormous self-sufficiency – or at least the ability to learn self-sufficiency. When your toilet breaks at the house, you call a plumber. When the head breaks aboard the boat, my husband and I take it apart, figure out what’s busted and fix it. There are no plumbers out in the middle of Puget Sound, we’ve discovered. Just as mariners two hundred years ago found they couldn’t just hop off and go buy new lines when their sheets (control the foot of a sail) or halyards (lift sails) parted in a blow. Just as, I suspect, space-going heroes and heroines will find that when something breaks in space, you’d better be carrying a spare and know how to install it. And if something punctures the hull, if you don’t have the ingenuity to plug it until you can limp into port, everyone’s going to be sucking vacuum.
Ships exist to get a job done as safely and swiftly as possible, and that means crew comfort counts, but not at the expense of the job to be done, whether the ships in question plied the seas laden with cargo two hundred years ago, or skim the space lanes responding to disease outbreaks far in the future, or whether they carry two adults and their seasick cats (oh, yes) across Puget Sound just for the love of sailing.
Emily here again. Ok, living aboard a sailboat isn't quite the daydream and starlight I thought it was, but I bet it has its moments. Thanks so much for stopping by today, Marcella. Give Darcy, DeeAnna, Lisa and Melinda big hugs from me.
Be sure to pop over to Marcella's website for more info about her fabulous sci-fi romance, EMENY WITHIN! If you have questions about the sailing life, cats on the water, or Marcella's book, please leave a comment!