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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Surgeon's Mate by Linda Collison

My first historical novel Star-Crossed (Knopf 2006) was conceived at the helm of the HM Bark Endeavour replica in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to explore what it might have been like to have been a young woman on a tall ship in the age of sail. Star-Crossed, which took nearly seven years from conception to publication was recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the Books for the Teen Age -- 2007. I had not written it as a Young Adult novel, but had told the story from the point of view of a teen aged female protagonist. The idea consumed me, and still does.
Knopf, however, had bought Star-Crossed as a stand-alone; they did not want to publish a sequel. Yet I could not forget about Patricia. I wrote the sequel, a rather disturbing account, based on all the research I had done for Star-Crossed as well as my 13-plus years in acute care nursing, and my own sailing experience. I was sure Knopf would change their mind and publish Surgeon's Mate, the follow-up. But they did not. My agent advised me to give up on the sequel and write something else. Months later I had not produced any new novels she wanted to represent, and so my agent dumped me. Kindly, but a dump is a dump and I felt as star-crossed as my protagonist, Patricia.
Three years passed. I had gone back to college for a second degree in History, with a minor in French, and I was working on another historical novel. I had almost forgotten about poor Patricia MacPherson, out there in the Atlantic Ocean where I had left her. And that's when Tom Grundner, Editor-in-Chief at Fireship Press contacted me through my website. He was very interested in both Star-Crossed and my sequel, Surgeon's Mate. In fact, he hoped I would write a series about my cross-dressing character! Oh, joy, Patricia lives! I carefully edited my manuscript, made some revisions, and sent it off to Grundner. Fireship Press publishes mainly historical fiction and nonfiction, and it seems a perfect fit.
Surgeon's Mate; book two of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series was published by Fireship Press in April, 2011 and is available in trade paperback and electronic editions, worldwide. Grundner hopes to republish Star-Crossed if Knopf chooses not to run a second printing. Right now I'm working on Book Three of the Patricia MacPherson Nautical Adventure Series, drawing on my research, my sailing and nursing experience, and driven by the character herself. What an adventure in writing and publishing!
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story on your blog; I've enjoyed reading some of the other authors' inspirations.
Yours, aye,
Linda Collison


Freda Lightfoot said...

What a lovely story. Never give up seems to be the moral. Congratulations on publication and may Patricia live on for many more adventures.
Best wishes,

linda collison said...

Thank you Freda, for your encouragement, I will continue to press on! (It is inspiring to be sandwiched between two productive authors, such as you and Julian.

Regina Jeffers said...

Congratulations on your success. Your story goes to prove that tenacity pays off.

Helen Hollick said...

I was also dumped by my ex agent (very unkindly) and also because of my nautical novel! I spent two weeks sobbing, then decided to pull myself together and produce my book myself. As it happened I found a small indie company with an even smaller mainstream imprint. They tied me over for a bit, but were not a very reliable company & they went belly-up in February 2011. Dumped again! This time, though, I had a plan B - and took my books straight to a good assisted publishing company to ensure my ex-pirate, Jesamiah Acorne could sail about as long as he likes in his beloved Sea Witch.

I have your books Linda on my To Read pile