One of the things that I had said I was going to do on this blog was spotlight some of the authors, musicians, and other artists who I think are deserving of more recognition- people that have created something that, quite frankly, I believe you will benefit from looking into. For the debut spotlight, I thought it only fitting to feature a fellow author who, like myself, published their first work this year, and one who I think you'll be hearing a great deal from in the coming years, Christine Steendam.
This evening I was fortunate enough to meet one of the writer's who's work I've come to admire. Christine Steendam the author of Heart Like An Ocean, a historical romance novel that tells the story of... Well, you know what, let's just take it straight from the book description on Amazon, because I doubt my simple words can do it justice.
"In a society where she doesn't belong, Senona Montez, a strong-willed and free-spirited woman refuses to follow the path expected of a Don's only child.
On the eve of her marriage to a stranger, she saddles her horse and flees everything she knows, only to discover the petty concerns of society did not prepare her for the harsh life on the open sea. She finds an unlikely protector in a reckless privateer, Brant Foxton.
Straddling the worlds of independence and privilege in 1600's Europe, this captivating man challenges her in ways she never thought possible, shows her what living to the fullest really means, and allows her to follow her heart wherever it leads."
Sounds pretty intense, right? And, it is. However, it is also a fun and entertaining read. The characters are excellent, real, and you find yourself quickly becoming wrapped up in their stories- even if, like myself, this isn't a genre that you would normally pick up.
I wrote a small review on the Amazon page if you'd like to check it out and while you are at it, make sure to pick up the book. Extremely reasonably priced and well worth every penny. http://www.amazon.ca/Heart-Like-an-Ocean-ebook/dp/B00BC2TCJA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1374738927&sr=8-1&keywords=heart+like+an+ocean
But I digress.
The reason I was writing this was not only to spotlight her work, but also the author herself. To me, the person who writes the book is as important as the book itself. That's just my feeling on the subject, but I'm always fascinated by the story behind the story-teller. Why did they choose to tell this particular story? Does it reflect anything about the author, themselves? What made them decide to be a writer in the first place?
I first became aware of Christine during the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project/contest when I was browsing through the list of local participants. There were a fair bit of folks from the great big city (aka Winnipeg) but only a handful of us from the outlying area (aka the "country") and I made an effort to keep track of how the others from my "group" were doing in regards to word count.
For whatever reason, Christine was one of the two or three entrants who's word count I kept an eye on. Part of it was because she sounded very "on the ball" as they say- she had a plan, had participated before, and just seemed like she was someone who I could use as a measuring stick.
For the first week and a bit, my word count kicked her's butt. Then, it didn't. Slowly but surely, she continued at a steady stream of increasing output until she FAR surpassed what I had. Eventually, I ended up dropping out, and she would go on to complete the 50,000 word goal, with time to spare.
That stuck in my head. I had dropped out partly because I had started a new job that turned out to be extremely stressful in the learning curve, and part because I was lazy. I lost that drive to continue on. Not her, however. She persevered, even when stuck, and managed to not only hit the goal, but surpass it.
So, when her book came out, I remembered what she had accomplished, and thought I'd send some support to a local author who had made good on her writing and had pushed me (unknowingly, and only for a few weeks, but nonetheless) to push myself, and so I bought the e-book version of Heart Like An Ocean.
As if destroying my word count during NaNoWriMo wasn't enough, she destroyed my preconceived notions on romance novels. It wasn't some tried and true same old song and dance romance novel, with two-dimensional characters and a predictable plot. Far from it, in fact. Her characters had depth, reacted realistically, the plot was anything BUT predictable, and, nothing against Christine, exceeded any expectations that I had. Quite simply, it was a great book.
So when I had the chance to meet her and exchange books, me having just released LEGACY, and her with a print copy of HLAO, I jumped at it.
She was everything one might hope for in speaking with a writer- eloquent, intelligent, thoughtful about the "art", humble about her success, and eager to see others succeed as well.
I fully expected us to have a "writers talk" along the lines of trading stories about the, well, stories that we had written and our experiences in getting to our respective debuts. We did, but mainly the time spent was of telling some of our OWN life stories. I was treated to a few small tales of her time in school, of her son, Jasper and his adventures, and her husband, Kyle, who sounds like a pretty cool dude in his own rights.
It seems that writers are always interested in stories, whether ones that they've made up, or ones that they, or others, have lived. A good story, is a good story.
Which answers a question that Christine had posed to me in a previous conversation: Is her writing going to turn me into a fan of romance novels? The answer to that, is no. I don't think I could ever get into reading strictly romance.
BUT, you better believe that her writing has made me a fan of Christine Steendam, a skilled writer who crafts a compelling story with engaging characters that you genuinely care about, and I eagerly await any book that she publishes. And you should too.