I have the opportunity today of interviewing Rachel Rager, the author of By Love or By Sea, a novel that I reviewed here several months ago.
Rachel, what was your inspiration for this story?
I was writing my second story and was in the shower one day when I came up with the idea for By Love or By Sea. (By Love or By Sea is the third story I wrote. The first and second are prequels to By Love or By Sea but not published.)I wrote down some notes and when I was done with the one I was working on, I began By Love or By Sea.
I guess I should fess up to one little secret. Caleb Newman was inspired by my little brother. Though my brother is quite different than Caleb, he has a similar build and attitude. My brother once dropped a plant in his bedroom, spilling soil all over the carpet while he was talking on the phone to a girl he didn’t particularly care for. And, not wanting my mother to hang him for making a mess on the carpet, but not knowing how to get off the phone with the girl, he decided to vacuum up the mess while on the phone! That made me laugh so hard and it just felt like something Caleb would do (if he lived in today’s world!) So, there you have it!
What is the setting of your book?
~The setting of my story is purely fictional. If I had to actually state a location on a map, I’d say it was somewhere between the Netherlands and Belgium. Originally Belgium was a part of the Netherlands but they rebelled and in 1830 or so, gained their independence. In my mind, this kingdom is simply a small section of the land in between—neither here nor there. Obviously I took some liberties. Since this kingdom exists in my mind, the weather obeys my every desire! (evil chuckle)
Who are your main characters?
~Alice Lind Frank grew up as a kitchen servant before moving in with her grandparents. Suffering heartache as a young girl, she has chosen a path that will keep her safe from heartbreak but it will also keep her from happiness.
Caleb Newman is a sailor who was assumed dead after his ship sank. Missing for six years, he finally returns to put the pieces of his life back together. Unfortunately, his childhood sweetheart is nearly engaged to the local shipyard owner and his own dark past hangs over him.
Clarence Hielott is the local shipyard owner and hates everything about Caleb Newman. However, Clarence is nearly engaged to Alice and he and Caleb struggle to capture her heart.
There is also the colorful, sour, and miserable Betsy Winters. Having endured her own heartache, she is a thorn in everyone’s side and never passes up the opportunity to make her opinions known.
In what ways do you think you are like them?
~I think there’s probably a little of me in all my characters. I have always loved the idea of loving someone from childhood. (Though I can’t think of anyone from my childhood I wish I’d loved.) Unfortunately, I am like Alice in that I was engaged to my husband but had a hard time pushing another boy away from me. I enjoyed his friendship, and though he liked me more than I did him, I selfishly wanted his friendship and had a difficult time letting him go. I also have always been terrified of thunderstorms, though I’m not as bad as Alice.
In what ways are you different?
~I’d like to say I’m very different from my characters. That they all live separate lives from me. But I’m sure I had some influences on them. One marked difference is that I would never dream (okay, I’d probably dream it but never have the guts) to stand up to an old bitty like Betsy Winters the way Alice does.
What is your favorite scene in the book?
~My personal favorite scene is when Alice and Caleb are picking cherries in her grandparents’ orchard! I love tart cherries and used to pick them as a kid at my own grandparents’ house. For some reason, I love the flirting, secrets, and kisses shared in this scene!
After you wrote the book, how long did it take you to get it published?
~From writing the first word until I held the published book, it was just under five years. After I wrote the book, I immersed myself in learning the proper way to submit the manuscript. I think after all the edits were made and the book was finished, it took a year and a half to publish.
Have you been published before?
How did the publisher let you know your book was being considered for publication?
~One day, actually the day my brother got home from his mission, I got an email saying CFI wanted to publish By Love or By Sea along with a contract.
What did you do when you found out your book was being published?
~ I started jumping up and down, screaming and crying. My seven-year-old daughter looked at me as though I had lost my mind!
Please share a brief description of your book.
~ Alice Lind Frank never forgot the boy she loved when she was just six years old, even after he was lost at sea. Now a young woman, Alice has found happiness in living and working with her grandparents, and in the affections of Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner who intends to make Alice his bride.
When a ragged sailor appears in town, Alice is reminded of the young boy who once held her heart. Upon learning that the sailor is in fact her childhood love, Caleb, she finds herself falling for him again.
But Clarence refuses to let this ghost from the past destroy his plans for the future. He exposes the secrets of Caleb’s past, and Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Soon Caleb and Clarence are locked in a fierce competition for Alice’s heart.
Can Alice overcome her fears and surrender her heart to Caleb once more? And what will she do about Clarence? Action, adventure, and most of all, romance, make By love or By Sea a thrilling and emotional love story you won’t soon forget.
Where can we purchase a copy of your book?
~Segullbook, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Cedar Fort, Inc.
By Love or By Sea