As many of my stories do, Bring Me Sunshine started as a writing challenge to myself.
When I wrote Girl Racers – my challenge was to write a book set over just 7 days. Okay, I cheated by putting in some flashbacks – but the action of the story takes place over a very limited time frame.
Having down that – I wanted to write a book where the setting was limited. I wanted to lock all my characters up somewhere small and see what happened. A cruise ship seemed a good place to do it – and a tropical cruise was certainly a romantic setting.
It was also a good excuse to watch (for the umpteenth time) one of my favourite films An Affair to Remember (1957) with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant – just to rediscover the whole concept of shipboard romance
Then my sister-in-law and her amazing elderly mother went on an Antarctic cruise. Wow – I thought – THAT’s the setting for a book.
I normally like to visit places I write about – to get a good feel for the place and to make sure I write about it accurately. I’ve never been to Antarctica, and a real Antarctic cruise was a bit beyond my budget.
I had spent a fortnight in Iceland, however with my day job. I’d been on a glacier and I’d met some icebergs, and I know what it feels like to be very, very cold.
A cruise ship, however, was a very different matter. I had never been on one. It wasn’t that hard to talk Webmaster John into a cruise – although like Jenny in the book, I think he may have imagined somewhere warmer. Instead, we flew to Norway and boarded a ship heading even further North – around the top of Europe, with nothing between us and the North Pole but open water.
It was a wonderful trip. We saw the Northern Lights. Drove a dog sled across a frozen lake. And, got very, very cold.
Even more importantly, from a book research point of view, I experienced life on board a cruise ship. The fabulous crew on board the Trollfjord even allowed me to visit behind the scenes, places a passenger wouldn’t normally go.
Sometimes it’s easy to come up with the title for a book. But for this book, the title eluded me. For a very long time it was ‘the boat book’. My editor and I talked about titles for a while – before the idea struck. It’s a book about a dark and damaged hero and the girl who brought the light back into his life…