Monday, September 17, 2012

Shipwrecks and Boatbuilders

Today is one I have been waiting to share with you all for a long time. Bridget Chicoine is finally published. Yay!

Bridget and I have been "friends" for a couple of years and I had the great joy of meeting her in person this summer. She's beautiful, delightful, and oh-so-very-smart. OH-SO-VERY-SMART. I've also had the honor of being asked to read her book and that, my friends is something you don't want to ever say no to.

UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright is out now, published by Rhemalda Publishing. Here's my review.

What would you do if everything you’ve ever known in your life is taken away and the only thing that remains is a fantastical heart-wrenching story to show for it?

UNCHARTED: Story for a Shipwright is one of those books that you will think about for a long time afterward. J.B. Chicoine’s exciting debut novel about a boat builder in Maine who meets an exceptional woman will leave you breathless as you turn the pages.

Chicoine’s writing is superb, with lyrical prose that envelops you like morning fog, silently creeping into your soul and as it lifts, you find yourself engulfed in a love story so simple yet so profound you can’t put it down. The places Chicoine transports the reader – spear fishing on a tropical island, ocean breezes wafting through the warmth of the dazzling summer sun or that same summer sun in a dusty dry Kansas cornfield – across not only continents, but also time as well to an incredible extraordinary story of survivors of a shipwreck. Chicoine certainly outdid herself creating this novel.

The characters are all three-dimensional, each having their own intriguing back-story, which blends seamlessly with Marlena and Sam’s interactions. The dysfunctional family dynamic is written brilliantly – the tension and anxiety carefully balanced with dry humor and underlying respect. There are no cardboard caricatures in this novel.

Part haunting love-story, part historical high seas adventure, this story about an ordinary man who meets a most uncommon woman will stay with you for a long time. If you don’t read anything else this year – read this book.

That is the review I posted on Goodreads and Amazon, but truthfully I just wanted to write --


Yeah, I'm not kidding, it's that good. And I'm not saying that just because she's a friend of mine. This book HAUNTED me, still does as a matter of fact. Between the story itself, which was phenomenal, and the writing, which was gorgeous, just color me jealous. I wish I had her talent.

Now, because of our friendship, Bridget's graciously offered to answer a few questions for me...

How did you come up with the idea for a story about a shipwreck within a story about a boatbuilder?

Well, I guess it all started way back when I was a little kid—you see, I had a crush on Gilligan. You can read all the sordid details on a blog post I wrote not too long ago.  
You're an accomplished watercolorist. Are the two (writing and painting) exclusive of each other or are they companion to each other?

Um…I’ve painted scenes and images inspired by my stories—like Marlena, on the cover of Uncharted—and I’ve written stories based upon a few random paintings, but one is not contingent upon the other. It’s just that I need a creative outlet for good mental health, so I’m either painting or writing most of the time. If I can combine the two, I feel doubly productive, which I like.

Is it harder to write or paint?

Writing is definitely harder! Way harder. I can pick an image, begin painting and be done with it in a week’s time. When it’s complete,it’s easy to set it aside and move on, even though I know it’s not perfect. And putting it out there for feedback is easier—that is, it takes little time or commitment for someone to offer their opinion. Writing—especially a novel—requires a huge amount of emotional resources and is a much longer and more involved process. And it’s much different to flash a painting in front of someone and ask, “Whaddaya think?” as opposed to passing a manuscript to a reader, saying, “This is going to suck up the better part of several days and there’s a chance that you make not like it at all and feel quite annoyed with me afterward.” 

What is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself during the publication process?

 I’ve discovered that I’m a very private person and that the internet is a very precarious place. I mean, I knew that going in, but the lure of easily accessible research was irresistible and made me lower my guard. I kind of laugh about it now, but I had a situation come up that freaked me out a little back when it happened.

You see, in the process of researching a particular sailing vessel, I came across a real live shipwright’s Website. After inquiring about the particular sailboat project that interested me and explaining about my writing, we corresponded several times over the course of a couple months. By then, I had completed my first draft and thought, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be great to have an actual shipwright for a beta-reader?’ I mean, I hated to think of some poor boat builder reading my novel and hurling it across the room in frustration over some implausible passage.

Alas, I had never asked anyone outside of my family and friends to read my story, and my request seemed rather presumptuous. I imagined this particular shipwright was not unlike my main character Sam—very, very busy. I thought he might be more inclined to oblige me if I showed a little interest in his work and background, justifying all that as further research, and I was genuinely intrigued. Much of what he shared was in fact very interesting and insightful. Unfortunately, by the time I mustered up the courage to ask if he would read my novel, he apparently misinterpreted my interest…

‘Yes!’ he wrote back, he’d ‘love to read it!’ Myheart raced with excitement.

Then I read the next line ….—did he just write what I think he wrote? … Oh nuts!

Just the same, his proposition was rather poetic. Nicely written—a few too many modifiers, but pretty good for a shipwright. Perhaps he was just trying to impress me with some literary ability of his own… but that thing about making love in the oakum and shavings …. Yikes!

It was all very embarrassing. He did not read my novel.

However, I learned a big lesson: Keep my guard up and just be direct. It may feel like shameless self-promotion, but better that than something else.

Well, I'm all for shameless promotion so you can find Bridget in all these places.

Writing blog:
Art blog:

Thanks for stopping by. And make sure you put this book in your TBR pile. You won't be disappointed.


Em-Musing said...

Uncharted sounds intriguing. I'll be checking it out.

Charlie Rice said...

Uncharted, definitely.

You're right about Bridget being a smarty-pants. She graciously offered to beta read my ms. Her notes on Chapter one were so extensive, it forced me re-think my approach. (And I realized how not-ready I was.) I wound up rewriting the entire book in a different POV, just to see which POV would work better. (Omni 3rd, JB).

Excellent review Anne. I'm glad there were no spoilers! lol

Jennifer Shirk said...

You convinced me!!
I'm adding it to my TBR pile!

Anne Gallagher said...

Em -- You won't be disappointed. I can guarantee it.

Charlie -- Bridget is an AMAZING beta reader. She's always spot on with any advice. And no, no spoilers here. Thanks for stopping by.

Jennifer -- I'm glad it's on your list. It's a fantastic book.

J. B. Chicoine said...

Anne, thanks so much for doing the interview! It was fun...and I can't thank you enough for your enthusiastic review. Yikes! Did I write the story you're raving about?!

...and thanks, EM-Musing, Charlie, and Jennifer. I hope you all like it even half as much as Anne does. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Bridget -- Yes, you did write the book. Although I wish I had written it. And you're very welcome.

Bish Denham said...

I've been hearing about this book, Bridget... Sounds fantastic. What a story about the shipwright!

Thanks for sharing her with us Anne.

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- Anytime. This is such a great book. Really.

Clarissa Draper said...

I love stories that stay with me for a long time after reading it. Thanks fro this review.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Wow, this books sounds fantabulous! Thank you so much. (Any chance of it becoming available for Kindle???)

J. B. Chicoine said...

Susan, it will be available in e-book format on Amazon--so, yeah, Kindle--on October 1st. It's the softcover that was released early. :)

...and also as .epub, or .mobi (don't know which, if either of those formats is Kindle-compatible.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Anne and Bridget, a lovely interview. I just started reading this one. I've working my way to it steadily.

I try to keep my online interactions business--in so far as contacting experts in the field are concerned. I have a large contingent of wonderful online friends and some I've met. It's great!

Al said...

thanks for a great review!

Liza said...

Oh, I'm just smiling, smiling, smiling. Yea Bridget!

Johanna Garth said...

This sounds like one of those books you will think about for a long time after you finish it. My favorite kind!

Caitlin said...

This review sounds pretty good! Although, generally "OMG OMG OMG YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK" is usually pretty good at getting me to pick something up. I'll have to pick this up!

Talli Roland said...

Congrats to Bridget! Now *that* is a ringing endorsement! It sounds like a fantastic read.

Rick Daley said...

I read a partial a few years back and liked it then, I'm eager to read the published version!

Carol Newman Cronin said...

Agreed with all of this... Uncharted is a haunting must-read. For another version that reaches the same conclusion, see my full review: "Uncharted is Off the Charts."

Anonymous said...

Its great to meet Bridgette and good luck to her and her book Unchartered!

Sarah Ahiers said...

oh man! That cover is so so pretty!

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by. I'm really excited for Bridget about this book. As I read it, I kept seeing the movie version. From my keyboard to God's ears.

J. B. Chicoine said...

I second that, Anne! The thanks part mostly. I do appreciate everyone's kind comments...and yeah, Uncharted would look great on the big screen! :)

Elliot Grace said...

...okay, I'm sold ;)

Great interview, Anne.

Good luck on your release, Bridget! Wishing you the very best of sales.


Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Wonderful interview! I adore UNCHARTED. Can't wait to get my own copy. :)

Patti said...

Sounds like an intriguing read and her story at the end was awesome.