I sat, staring at it in quiet amazement- feeling drawn to the picture- the sadness it aroused within me, the heartache I felt the young woman feeling. The ghostly ship was ominous and the entire picture just gripped my heart and I felt tears prick my eyes. I thought, "Wow, she's just so, so sad. She lost her lover at sea...."
The idea made my chest hurt. Love lost is never a funny matter. I set the image layout to my profile and though I went back to doing whatever it was I was doing that day, I kept going back to look at it. I couldn't shake it and every time I saw it I was moved to tears again. I went to bed that night unable to put the image out of my mind.
Then I remembered somewhere in old scribbled notes and papers I has the beginnings of a historical I started to write when I was in my late teens. Just one sheet, front and back in my very youthful chicken scratch. A girl named Catherine, boarding her grandfather's ship in England to sail away to a life she's never known.
Bit by bit, the story started to unfold as I lay in bed, listening to my husband snore while I couldn't sleep for all the thoughts and story ideas that were swirling around in my head. What if she sailed to Virginia? What if she met a young man on the ship and believed she was in love with him? But what if he sailed away once she arrived in Virginia, and left her feeling lost and alone? What if she promised herself to him in secret? And what if his very own brother, burned by the past, became her confidant? Became her friend? And what if the sea took the man she thought she loved, after she'd already fallen for another? How devastating could that be?
It would be as devastating and heartbreaking as that image above. It would move me to tears, whispering the pain, the sorrow, the madness of grief and guilt that a young woman might feel in Catherine's shoes.
And so, my Myspace background haunted me and Catherine's story began to take shape over several months. This story, that I once put aside because I lost sight of my own writing dreams, a story that had once been frozen in thought at the outset, was beginning to warm, to incubate, beneath the heat lamp of this image that was searing itself on my brain. It was fertilized by that haunting picture that branded itself on my mind and my heart. It started to grow into a story that went much deeper and had more aspects than I first intended.
I didn't just start writing it though. I began researching and reading up on the history of Virginia, of the late 1700's. I spent several months researching online and with books I ordered online. And in a search for images that I could use purely for my own inspiration, I found Catherine Barrett, Dawson's sweet sweet Cathy, in this image of a young Kate Beckinsale.
And I found Dawson Randolph, residing in a plantation home similar to this, with dark blue shutters and a blue front door. A lonely man, widowed far too early in life, I realized that I saw Dawson Randolph in James Scott's portrayal of Stefano DiMera's father, Santo DiMera on Days of Our Lives. I've been a DOOL fan all my life (I remember watching when I was like 5 year-old.) I was watching Days at the time I wrote Castaway Hearts so "Santo" fit what I saw in my mind perfectly. Handsome, sophisticated and melancholy to find real happiness in a world that had failed him and taken love away rather than given it to him.
Catherine and Dawson deserved happiness, and I knew it was up to me to find it for them- to clear the path, to make sure they weren't two "castaway hearts."
And so there you have it. A love story was born from something seemingly as simple as an image.
Happy Valentine's Day, Lovelies!
Hope its special!
Hope its special!