Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Bayman's Bride by J. Jay Kamp

Set aboard a sailing ship in the 1790s, The Bayman's Bride is the tale of a formidable Spanish captain who finds himself attracted to the Englishwoman he's been sent to abduct -- a woman who is his employer's wife.

The Bayman's Bride is about how Rowen Foster, forced to join her estranged husband in the jungles of Belize to produce an heir, finds an ally in her captor, Santiago. During their voyage to Central America, Rowen learns the Spaniard has been coerced into delivering her. She soon discovers that Santiago is in fact a better man than her cold, aristocratic husband, for beneath his gruff exterior lies a vulnerability that soon wins her heart.

Born to an Anglophile school-district clerk and an asphalt paver who loved to fish, J. Jay Kamp has been writing books about England and the sea since 1991. Her love affair with country houses has compelled her to visit over one hundred historic properties and spend far too much time in the British Library. Having been an administrative assistant for most of the last decade, J. Jay is currently a full-time writer and mother of three (cats, that is). She is presently working on a new project, a story about Ravenna Evans and the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Why did you self-publish?
Like many other indie writers, I had tried for years to interest traditional publishers in my work, and received several "nearly-but-not-quite" letters, as well as rejection letters saying that my settings were too exotic -- who knew that Belize was so off the beaten path? The moment I heard about the opportunities at Amazon, I knew I had to try self-publishing. I'm so glad I did!

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
I am a slow, slow writer, so the answer is...forever! The first draft of The Bayman's Bride took several hundred hours to write, and many more to rewrite and polish. It's a slow process, because there are usually historical aspects of books I must research, and very often nautical terminology I must learn and understand in order to portray the story accurately. And I am easily distracted by music I'm playing to achieve a mood, or the idea that housework is begging to be done, or cats getting in my face for attention. Like I takes forever!

What inspired you to write this particular story?
I visited Belize for the first time in 1998 and instantly fell in love with the place. I was fascinated with the history, and it wasn't hard to picture handsome men and romantic interludes (read: romance novel stuff) amidst the natural beauty of Belize's barrier reef and rainforests. I was particularly fascinated with the idea of coming from Georgian London to a far-flung outpost such as British Honduras during the late eighteenth-century, and from this sprung the idea for The Bayman's Bride.


London, May, 1795

Rowen was at the bookseller’s when he first came around.

Her maid described him as a Spaniard—a dark-complected man, pleasant enough in face and manner, but with an accent so thick she’d scarcely understood a word he’d uttered.

“’Twas something about m’lord,” the maid told her, putting the letter in Rowen’s hand. “Said he’s coming back in two days.”

Rowen looked at Hester in astonishment. “Bennett is here?”

“No, the Spaniard is coming, not Lord Marlowe.” With her usual perturbed expression, Hester shook her head, hands gravitating naturally to her hips as she regarded her mistress. “He’ll be here to fetch you on Thursday…or at least that’s what I thought he said.”

“And he mentioned Bennett? Bennett sent him?”

“Well, open the letter and see, why don’t you?”

So she did. With trembling, awkward fingers, Rowen unfolded the paper to find her husband’s flawlessly written hand. In the corner, just as she’d expected, she saw not her first name nor the endearment of “wife,” but a cool and formal address of title: To Lady Marlowe.

She shouldn’t have read another word.

But of course, she had to. She’d not seen Bennett in nearly a year. Surely his letter would reveal his location, his reasons for leaving…because he’d gone away, you see. Bennett had courted her, pursued and proposed to her, and then, in an act that can only be described as premeditated cruelty, he’d gathered up his well-traveled baggage and left. On their wedding night. He’d not even consummated their nuptial vows. He’d boarded his carriage without so much as a parting kiss and journeyed to New Spain. She’d heard nothing more.

Now with his letter finally in her grasp, Rowen skimmed down the page with impatience until she found what she wanted: the Bay Settlement on the Bay of Honduras. Between the Belize and Sibun Rivers, he’d taken up lodgings at a logwood camp where “communications with Jamaica are so infrequent as to make correspondence with you all but impossible.”

How convenient. She wanted to tear up the letter at his indifference. Still she forced herself to read on about how, through a Scottish settler, Bennett had learned of a city in the jungle near Belize Town. “It’s a ruin,” he wrote, “similar to those in Mexico City, but smaller, much more elaborately decorated. Carvings and idols cover its walls, so I’ve hired some workers to remove these treasures. I’ve sent one man to collect you forthwith, as well as to buy a ship for transport. This man will escort you to our encampment, at which I’ll be waiting for you with utmost expectancy. Please abide my wishes, Lady Marlowe. Give Santiago no trouble.”So the Spaniard’s name was Santiago. Rowen said it aloud, and Hester confirmed it right away. “Santiago de Escalante, m’lady. Made me repeat it three times, he did.”

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