Joining an existing series of Historical Romances is a daunting task for anyone. Being the one responsible for creating the history of a popular character is even more so. I took on that responsibility when PS Bartlett and I decided there needed to be a book about a man I eventually named Captain Gabriel Wallace, a man who would become a pivotal character in the life of PS Bartlett’s main series character, Ivory Shepard of the Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales, a Historical Romance/Adventure series.
Being behind the scenes when helping to brainstorm publishing strategies and story ideas is one thing, an easy thing with a background in marketing. Then the decision is made that someone should write the prequel to all the books and give a certain man a history. Enter me: writer, historian, and The Blue Diamond: The Razor’s Edge fan at your service. The Blue Diamond is the first book PS Bartlett wrote with Ivory Shepard in it. It is chronologically the last book in the series at this point, but only because the sequel hasn’t been written yet.
Creating the history of a man that has become a popular romantic hero in a series; talk about pressure. Given a physical description to go on and then left to your own imagination when it also includes someone else’s reputation and livelihood is quite an ordeal.
The thing to keep in mind when doing a back story novel about a character is, the person in the future books does not and probably is not the exact same person as in the past. In some cases, there may be a world of difference. When creating the main character of Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling, Captain Gabriel Wallace of the Royal Navy, who would become at a point in the future a romantic and heroic pirate, I had to keep some things in mind.
“Captain Gabriel Wallace is a man with a moral code that is largely unwavering; a confident man who holds himself with pride yet humble. He epitomizes the romantic hero. Love him!” Five Star Review of Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling.
From the review quote above, it sounds like I did a good job. Here’s the funny part, I wasn’t trying to go for romance. The book isn’t a romance; it’s just setting up for the future where romance occurs. What I did was create the foundation and core of a man that would be different and stand out against the other men in the Caribbean in the first decade of the 1700s when pirates were plentiful.
Step One: Who is he to Romance to?
The first thing to do about creating a romantic hero is to take into consideration whom he will be the romantic hero for.
Ivory Shepard is the main character in PS Bartlett’s series of Pirate Tales. Shepard is the Razor, thus the Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales series. In the series, you see how a young woman, barely a woman at first, goes from a colonial girl to being a respected pirate captain. The question is how she gets there.
Knowing Ivory the way I do, from having read and reviewed The Blue Diamond, then becoming friends with PS Bartlett and having multiple conversations, I knew what it would take to be the man Ivory would look to and respect enough to follow, to allow to teach her to become a captain. Ivory has a lot of baggage to overcome.
Step Two: Building the Man
Now knowing who the woman in the romance of the future would be I now had to invent the man she would fall for.
Now we are back to how I came up with what I wanted the character to be like. He had to be:
- Larger than life, but believable
- A real man in every way possible
- Respectful of women
- Respected by men
Notice I didn’t say he had to be romantic and a lover boy. That’s not what Ivory wants at this stage of her life, and I, in my thinking process, decided for a woman like her to give trust to a man, she would pick the above 10 qualities over the lover boy any day.
Step Three: Where do the ingredients come from?
To get to those characteristics I began with what the man’s career was, what would prepare him for teaching Ivory to be a captain, and a respected one? I chose a Captain in the Royal Navy of England. To fit the other characteristics I chose an educated background, with good breeding, and sense of responsibility and moral standards, all of which are foreign to Ivory. These characteristics lead him into the situation we find him in at the beginning of his own book, Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling.
Step Four: Make him believable.
Gabriel sounds perfect at this point. He’s not. He has some personal issues of his own, but not ones that interfere with relationships so much. His are things he must deal with in his own way. Some of these things have caused responsibilities he must be in charge of, but he does so without wallowing in some sort of pity or blame game. What helps make him the hero is, his putting his personal concerns aside for the bigger picture, with one such concern occurring within the first few chapters of the book. If the same thing happened any other time, he would have killed the man involved.
Bartlett began writing the man Gabriel becomes just after I began writing the man he was in the past. Talk about a strange experience. Seeing the two side by side, you would find it hard to believe they were the same person on the surface of things. That’s the point of our doing the prequels. We are showing how a distinguished and respected member of the Royal Navy and London society ends up being a pirate in the Caribbean, although a not exactly normal pirate.
Creating that initial background for the man then sets up how the character will act and react during the book, and makes your writing a lot easier.
The autumn of 1705 brings Royal Navy Captain Gabriel Wallace to face off against an enemy within the ranks of the Admiralty itself that threatens his career, his reputation, his family, and something even more far-reaching in its plot.
Court-martialed and with Admiral Chambers, the mastermind fearfully known as the Chambers of Hell, out for his destruction, Wallace finds he has allies willing to face the might of the mightiest power on earth, with some allies in the most unlikely of places. The crew of his former command, the Majesty’s Venture, mutinies from the Royal Navy. With capture by his enemies close behind, Wallace agrees to become captain once again.
With a ship at his command, Captain Gabriel Wallace sets out to fulfill his mission, the completeness of which only he knows.
Now a pirate by situation, Wallace sets out for the Colonies and the Caribbean. Will his crew remain loyal as they leave the rule of the Royal Navy behind? Will his lifelong friend, Miles Jacobs, follow Wallace blindly without knowing the whole story? Finally, will the young Lieutenant Maddox Carbonale stay under the command of Wallace or have plans to lead instead?
With these questions in his thoughts, Gabriel Wallace wages war on Chambers and goes after the largest haul in the history of the Spanish Main. Whom does Wallace meet along the way? To whom are his loyalties to: vengeance or something more powerful?
If you love tales of adventure, of the sea, of the struggles of men, and nods to history, this is your book. Read Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling and you’ll have a new appreciation for all of The Razor’s Adventures Pirate Tales.
I dedicate this book to my son for giving me purpose to wake up each day and move forward with my dreams instead of giving up when life threw me for a loop.
Now having arrived in the Colonies, Captain Gabriel Wallace is dropping Maddox Carbonale, the man partly responsible for his court-martial and having to flee England, off at a secluded beach away from authorities looking for them all.
“Islands? I abhor the heat. However, I’m always up for an adventure. I just may do that—if I can find a swimming horse.” With one last handshake, the young man set his hat upon his dark curls and began his walk south along the shoreline, until he eventually disappeared into the darkness.
“Will he make it?” Miles asked as we climbed into the boat with our crewmen to begin our trek back to the ship.
I paused for a moment and stared into the night one last time. “Yes. He’s too stubborn not to.”
“You know, he told me you might’ve killed Jonathan.”
I looked across the water at the lantern lights of Majesty’s Venture without acknowledging Miles’s remark.
“Miles, I’ve been thinking she needs a new name. How about—”
The sound of cannon fire shook us with such force we nearly fell out of the boat. “Captain!” Miles bellowed, pointing down the beach.
“What the bloody hell!” I shouted when I realized it was the Venture who’d fired her guns. We shielded our heads as the sand exploded about twenty yards away when the rounds struck. When I raised my head, I turned my eyes back to the beach and saw Carbonale running for his life towards us out of the darkness. He was being pursued by what appeared to be a dozen men on horseback. However, when the round of shot struck the beach, the horses reared up and retreated in fear, bolting from the blasts of flying sand.
The five-man crew hopped to their stations in the longboat as we rowed her back to shore. “Hurry, man!” Miles shouted as he caught Carbonale’s duffle and tossed it into the boat. Maddox quickly followed it with a leap, head first, and rolled to a stop.
“Didn’t I tell you to stay away from the women?” I asked, pulling him by the sleeve to a seat.
“Now you decide to share your sense of humor? I might have been killed, you know.” I couldn’t help but smirk at his question, as well as his gasps for breath as his arms flailed in exasperation.
Again we ducked for cover as another round was fired from the ship, striking the land with a thump and woosh of wet sand. Miles rose and raised his musket, firing on the group of remaining men who’d boldly refused to end their pursuit and had ridden their horses into the surf.
Ronovan Hester is a writer living near Athens, Ga, home of his alma mater, The University of Georgia, where he received a B.S.Ed. in History Education. Ronovan puts his love of history and his over 20 years of writing experience to use in his debut Historical Adventure set in 1705 England, American Colonies, and Caribbean co-authored with P.S. Bartlett.
Ronovan’s devotion to history and writing sometimes competes with his love of tacos and fresh fruit. At times, all his favorite things work hand in hand in mouth during long binge writing sessions that have been known to last nonstop for over 24 hours. Rather than see a sleep disorder as a hindrance, he uses the time for creative purposes, or watching old TV shows on online.
Ronovan enjoys putting elements of history, if only as nods to the past, in all of his book projects. He currently instills that love of history and learning in his son daily as he helps him through his college prep courses, meaning hours of homework every night, even while not yet a teenager—his son, not Ronovan. Now if he could find a very good mute for that trumpet his son just began learning.