Thanksgiving day adventure
On Thanksgiving day I walked (along with some movie actors in "The Way")the pilgrim road to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain! The reason I found this so fascinating and satisfying is that the movie was filmed on-site in Southern France and northern Spain, and this is the setting for my very first novel--the story of doomed love between a Muslim sheik and a Christian novice in the 12th century.
Back in 1993, I was a raw beginner at novel writing, but I got hooked one day by a photograph of a darkly handsome Arab man with the most mesmerizing expression in his eyes... and that started me thinking about what story might be behind that look. So I started in... and I wrote for 7 months, rewriting the whole thing every few chapters as I learned something new about writing fiction (after 30 years as an aerospace editor I knew nothing - absolutely nothing - about writing fiction).
Long story short: I finished this work and on a whim sent it in to Harlequin Historicals. Lo and behold, the editor who ended up with it in his (Don D'Auria's) lap liked it and sent it "upstairs" to the head editor, with a recommendation to buy. This he kindly told me when I inquired by telephone... and in a later telephone call he related the problem.
The head editor read the ending, screeched, and said "I wouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole! It's a hot potato."
This was about the time that Salmon Rushdie had fled to London with a Muslim fatwa on his head, so I can (somewhat) understand her hesitation.
Well, not hesitation--it was flat-out rejection.
I should have been crushed, but I was too naive to be deterred. I then started another novel, a western about my grandparents' courtship on adjacent ranches in Oregon, and that book ("Western Rose") was bought by the same editor.
O frabjous day!
But each and every day since then I have mooned over my 12th century Spain love story... and that's why I loved "The Way." However, I confess I was watching the scenery so closely I missed a lot of the fine acting of the principal characters.
And that's why I'm working on this 12th century Spain story again... revising extensively because I've learned a lot in the 18 years since I first started writing fiction. And thinking again about that Arab man with the arresting face and haunting expression in his eyes . . .