I've been asked about the inspiration behind my romantic thriller, Spilt Wine, so allow me to tell you a little story about its inception.
In the spring of 2015, I was living aboard Zonder Zorg in the Burgundy region of France, waiting for the flooding on the Saône to ease so I could head northward. I had just published my fourth book on boating in two years, and I wanted a change.
To occupy my time, I began building a wooden model of a skûtsje from a forty-year-old kit I had bought online. It was based on a barge almost identical to my 1908 Zonder Zorg.
While waiting for the glue to dry, I decided to begin writing a novel, a new direction for me. I'd written nothing but nonfiction since I was first published in the 1960s, so I spent a lot of time online researching the craft. For two weeks, I read everything I could find about writing fiction and novels, and as with most free advice, I saw many conflicting views and opinions. Progress on the model slowed as my research increased.
Among the prime things I learned was to write based on what we know and what we've experienced. I had been visiting the Burgundy since 1966, initially as a wine lover, then as an importer, then organising and conducting wine and food tours. I had also spent many years exploring the Burgundy canals by boat and by barge. Since I was here, I decided to use this as the location, but rather than setting the story in the present, I chose 1986.
The skûtsje model moved into the background as I began drafting the story. I based David, my protagonist, on me and my wine buying trips, and because a novel requires conflict, I created a wine theft and missing people. The flashbacks and the stories-within-the-story are all from my experience. The title, Spilt Wine, evolved partly from the crime, but mainly from my spilling wine tales and adventures from my past and weaving them into a fictitious mystery/thriller plot.
I'm now working on the draft of my sixth novel, and though the glue has dried on the skûtsje model, it's little changed from the photo above. Maybe when I tire of writing...
Spilt Wine has now been published by Dark Ink Press, and it's available as a paperback and as an e-book on Amazon.