Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday Talk-time with Gail Martin

Award-winning author of forty novels, Gail Gaymer Martin writes romance or romantic suspense for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her Writers Digest book, Writing the Christian Romance, will be released in December 2007, and her next island book, In His Dreams, will be released next August.

Islands always seem to hold a romantic image for me. Perhaps they do for you, too. I suppose we think of the Caribbean Islands or the South Pacific Islands - Fiji, Bora Bora, Tahiti. Hula skirts and coconut drinks. Perhaps you’ve been to some of these, but have you ever been to any of the wonderful Michigan islands?

Since we are surrounded by the Great Lakes, carving out our state by the great glaciers eons ago, Michigan is covered with lakes, rivers, streams and ringed with islands, all shapes and all sizes. Michigan itself is divided in half by two Great Lakes - Huron and Michigan, and we use the famous five mile suspension bridge, the Mackinac Bridge, to gain access to the Upper Peninsula.

Always looking for interesting locations for my books and loving to write about my home state, I decided to do a series set on the islands. When I began the Michigan Island Series, I thought about the islands I know and decided which ones I would use - Harsens, Beaver, Drummond and Mackinac Island.

I knew I wanted to include Mackinac Island, one of my favorite places to visit. The island offers the sense of going back in time because no motorized vehicles are allowed there except two emergency vehicles and snowmobiles in the winter. The island is only reached in winter by an airplane, and in the other seasons, a passenger ferry. Once the Straits of Mackinac freezes over, year-round residents can use snowmobiles to get to St. Ignace in Michigan’s upper peninsula but only after the ice has been tested and approved, often in late January or February. The snow bridge as it is called is marked by the island resident’s undecorated and saved Christmas trees, a wonderful old tradition.

While my first island novel was set on Harsens Island, motivated by a real-life experience, Mackinac Island was motivated only by the beauty and romantic setting. I’ve been on the island in all seasons, except winter so when I began to write the book, I had no idea about life on the island after the ‘Fudgies’ are gone. Fudgies is the fond word for the tourist s who crowd the island in the summer and always go home with the famous Mackinac Island fudge.

I began the book, then realized I didn’t know what I was talking about. I’d done some Internet research and had a book of facts written by the school children on the island, but other than that it was a guessing game. So I decided to get smart. I contacted the bookseller I know on the island who always invites me up for a summer signing, and I asked her if she knew a year-round resident who would be willing to answer a few questions. ‘Few’ was a slight understatement. A mountain of questions would be more accurate.

Tamala came through and sent me the telephone number of a woman who was willing to work with me. I began making lists of questions and finally called the resident, Kaye Hoppenrath. She was delightful and provided all kinds of facts as well as corrected some of my misconceptions. For example, I assumed everyone had a horse and buggy since winter for the elderly seemed like a difficult time to get around. Wrong. They use snowmobiles, too, and if they are too feeble or ill, the horse and carriage taxis are always available.

She told me which hotels and restaurants stay open in winter (not many of either), what the people do for entertainment, and the island’s traditions and festivals. The information provided me with a wonderful realistic backdrop in which to plop my career-oriented heroine and my laid-back hero. I sent them on a journey from November to January, struggling with their opposite personalities, but both finding delight in the beauty of the island and eventually in each other.

Gail Gaymer Martin

Gail’s latest novel, WITH CHRISTMAS IN HIS HEART was a Romantic Times Top Pick!

Gail would love you to drop her a line and let her know if you enjoyed the book. Write to Gail at gail@gailmartin.com. And her website has loads more info too!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Gail!

    Your islands sound wonderful, and I love the cover art on your Romantic Times top pick book.

    If anyone is targetting Christian Romance, Gail's website articles are amazing, and as I couldn't get the link to work, you'll find it at www.gailmartin.com .

    Gail, I rubbed shoulders with you briefly as a Heartsong Author in 2001 (my title was 'Good Things Come' and I was the second, I think, Australian author to sell to the line). Only had one title out there and I now write for Harlequin Romance but it is lovely to 'see' you again.

    Best Regards,

    Jennie

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  2. A *very* distracting website! Gail, I love your antiques on the kitchen wall.

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  3. Hi Jennie - Congrats on your sale to Harlequin. We did the same. I wrote for Barbour first and still do a little writing for them, but now I mainly write for Steeple Hill.

    Natasha -- My site has been called helpful, easy to find things, wonderful, etc. but never "distracting." I hope that was a compliment -- like it distracted you from what you whould have been doing. I'll be adding some new recipes to Gail's Kitchen.

    Anyone interested can copy and paste ---www.gailmartin.com

    Gail

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