Shannon here: Contemporary Romance author, Annette M. Irby shares the inspiration behind her latest release, Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington. Comment or answer the question at the end of the post to enter the drawing for a copy. Deadline: August 12th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Annette:
My personal love story began when I moved 2500 miles from my hometown to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and then fell in love. You won’t find sea stars and porpoise and barnacles in the Midwest. I visited Washington as a late teen and one year later, I’d decided to move here. Something about the sea—Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, to be exact—captured my attention, even my heart, and definitely my imagination.
I didn’t know it at the time, but even then God was wooing me through the beauty all around me. Walking the beaches, I felt His presence. I had no idea He would romance me and then that romance would influence my writing. At the time, I wasn’t writing yet.
My husband and I met on one of the islands in the Salish Sea, north of Seattle’s Puget Sound, very soon after I moved here. Almost two years later, we got engaged on the same island. A few months after that, we were married on that same island. We cherish that location. For me, the San Juan Islands of Washington’s Salish Sea speak romance—of relationship between God and us, and personally of my romance with my husband of twenty-six years this August.
So I wanted to take that romantic feel—the view, the spiritual wooing that happens in those locations, the marine life, the beaches and boats, and weave together a love story with an happily ever after ending. In my experience, I’m not the only one who feels close to God, who feels, in a way, undone, by beautiful nature, so to use the location as a sort of character made sense.
There’s romance in lighthouses too. I was grateful the cover designer could include an image of the Lime Kiln Point lighthouse in the book’s cover. I’ve already heard from folks that if there’s a lighthouse on the cover, they’ll buy it. 🙂
Researching these books is too much fun. My family and I visit locations on Puget Sound to research
the settings. That’s a fun way we can spend time together, making memories, while I analyze settings and chat with locals. When my husband and I can, we walk the beaches and revisit our romance.
I began writing FLI Friday Harbor as a romantic novella probably ten years ago. My hope at that time was to pair the story with three other novellas from fellow Christian authors and submit a proposal for a four-in-one compilation centered around the Pacific Coast. When that project was declined, I switched gears and expanded the story into a short. But I still wasn’t finding traction. All the while, I was learning more about the writing craft, and my critique partners saw many new versions of chapters. Then, I began cold-reading for the Love Finds You line from Summerside Press. I didn’t pitch this story to them, because they had too many set in Washington. But I loved that idea of a location-based setting. That’s exactly what this book was. Fast-forward several years, and I learned of Mountain Brook Ink’s similar line: Finding Love In. That’s when I knew it was time to finish the book and send in a proposal. Thankfully, the writing was ready for the editor to give me a green light for a three-book series.
My hope is readers experience the beauty of the locations and feel the romance as God woos these characters, which is an element I love to include because of how God has wooed me in my own life. Plus, you get to watch these characters fall in love, again since my hero and heroine were once engaged.
Happy reading, friends!
About Annette: Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. At one time, she served in acquisitions for a small press, and she runs her own editing business. She likes to say she’s addicted to color as flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more and connect:
About the book – Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington:
Will keeping his promise lead to another broken heart—or help them find love again?
Professor Mikaela Rhoades has a plan: she’ll encourage her students’ marine biology research through an exclusive program while helping an old family friend’s whale touring business stay afloat. The challenge is the tour captain is her first love and ex-fiancé. Mikaela longs to help his family in the wake of his father’s death, but she’s keeping secrets. She’ll have to face her past and overcome her concerns about the future to make it through the summer.
Captain Hunter Cahill has taken over the family touring business after his father’s death. Unfortunately, he’s drowning in grief and accumulated debt. He’s hoping the incoming stodgy professor will help resurrect the failing business, but he’s not prepared when that professor turns out to be Mikaela, his former fiancée. To make matters more difficult, he’d promised his father to pursue her if she ever returned to the island single. The more time they spend together, the easier it is to keep that promise, though she still plans to leave at the end of the season. How much will it cost him to spend the summer romancing Mikaela?
Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington is book one of the Washington Island Romance series through Mountain Brook Ink. The book releases September 1st, but is available for pre-order on August 1st.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Preorder now: Finding Love in Friday Harbor, Washington
Question for Readers: What’s your favorite location? What stirs up your imagination? Have you ever felt God wooing you as you visited that place?
Come back August 4th for Anne Greene!