Janice Thompson: Mesmerized by Her Majesty
(September 26, 2012)
This year marks the hundredth Anniversary of the Titanic's maiden and only voyage, yet the passing of time has done little to diminish our fascination with the "queen of the ocean" or our love of stories set upon the ill-fated ship. This fall Summerside Press' new American Tapestries™ line of historical romance novels will set sail with the release of Queen of the Waves (Summerside Press/October 2012/ISBN: 978-1-60936-685-8/$12.99), a story of love and destiny by Janice Thompson.
Queen of the Waves tells the story of two families on opposite sides of the Atlantic that are shaken by the rise and fall of the Titanic, "queen of the ocean." To help her daughter escape an arranged marriage, Jacqueline Abingdon's mother secretly purchases a ticket for Jacquie on the much-anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. But unbeknownst even to her mother, the pampered Jacquie has concocted a second scheme. Another woman will board in her place, and Jacquie will elope with the family gardener to a small village in the English countryside.
From a poor corner of London, Tessa Bowen has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime - a ticket to sail to America. But there's a catch: She must assume Jacqueline Abingdon's identity. For the first time in her life, Tessa stays in expensive quarters, dresses in luxurious gowns and dines with prestigious people. When a wealthy young American man takes an interest in her, Tessa struggles to keep up the ruse while she finds herself falling for him. When tragedy strikes, the game is up, and Jacquie's and Tessa's lives are forever changed.
Queen of the Waves is the first release in Summerside's new American Tapestries™ series. Each novel in this line sets a heart-stirring love story against the backdrop of an epic moment in American history. Whether they fought in her battles, built her cities or forged paths to new territories, a diverse tapestry of men and women shaped this great nation into the Land of Opportunity. Even then, as is true now, the search for romance was a major part of the American Dream.
When approached with the idea of writing a book focused on the Titanic, Thompson expressed uncertainty, as it would be a departure from her usual comedic approach to storytelling. However, just a day later, she had the story idea and the first chapter. Once her editors had read her ideas, Thompson was thrilled to learn they had decided to make her book one of the debut releases in the new line.
Although hundreds of books and documentaries about the Titanic are readily available, research for Queen of the Waves proved to be a daunting task. "When you write about an event such as this, particularly one that has been so well documented in movies and books, you need to get your facts right," says Thompson. "Even the 'little' things like how long it took to load everyone onto the ship can bog the writer down. Dozens and dozens of times I would stop writing just to look something up."
Thompson was able to make the research and writing processes exciting and interactive by utilizing social media. She had just started writing Queen of the Waves when she received a note from a friend asking if I would be interested in taking a Titanic anniversary cruise. Her response was, "No, thanks! The only Titanic cruise I would consider taking would have to be a virtual one." As she typed the words, the idea hit: Set up a Facebook group, title it Queen of the Waves and invite people on a "virtual" Titanic cruise. The enthusiastic group grew to more than 200 members who used Pinterest and other online tools to share photos, information and stories. The group even took part in an online reenactment on the night of the anniversary.
In addition to the romance and history, there is a spiritual aspect to the story. Thompson shares, "Several of my characters (primarily Tessa) face their own destiny. They come to grips with the brevity and value of life. They see first-hand what's truly important and what isn't. Tessa learns that her picture of God has been skewed since childhood. She discovers a relationship with Him while onboard the ship, but that relationship is tested the night the ship goes down."