Today I am so pleased to welcome Jamie Sullivan to Joyfully Jay. Jamie has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Persephone Star. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Planning the Book: Creating Penelope Moser
My first note for ‘The Persephone Star’ was simply “High Noon pastiche – but with steampunk lesbians.”
I’ve always liked the Grace Kelly character in High Noon – the idea of a woman out of place, struggling to maintain her pacifism in the face of the the violence of the lawless wild west. While the protagonist of High Noon is very much Gary Cooper’s sheriff, I knew I wanted to focus on the fiancée/wife character.
It also struck me that there were interesting parallels that could be drawn between the fiancée and the outlaw – though Grace Kelly’s character is a pacifist Quaker and Ian MacDonald’s outlaw is a vicious criminal, they both exist outside the norms of society in the west. And, I figured, that would be even truer if the outlaw was a woman, leading a whole crew of female bandits.
My very first, brief outline read:
dirigible, crewed exclusively with women. Main one is seeking revenge on the sheriff, who put part of her crew in prison. Our main character is the post mistress/librarian (not much call for a librarian in that small town, but she tries to promote reading), and fiancée of the sheriff. For the first bit of the story it follows the High Noon plot…
(Ending redacted to avoid spoilers!)
I knew right away that I needed to flesh out the Grace Kelly character. In the film, released in 1952, she is defined by her faith and her loyalty to her fiancé. That’s about it. Instead of being a Quaker, I made the main character a librarian. What was important was that it was still something that set her apart from the environment around her. She’s bookish and quiet, which doesn’t fit with the rough and tumble attitude of the west, but her desire to build a library also represents her belief in improvement. She’s trying to bring some of the civilization of the east out west, but she also knows that reading offer more to people than the veneer of ‘culture’. Part of the reason why Penelope can sympathize with the bandits is that the books she reads expose her to all different kinds of people, different kinds of morality, and different motivations. They’ve taught her empathy.
Through all the rest of my drafts, in which the character of Penelope changed fairly drastically, her devotion to her books stayed the same. And though we might think of bookish people as kind of passive—staying inside and reading all day –it occurred to me that Penelope’s love of reading was grounded in a desire to know, to understand the world around her. That actually makes her a very active character, someone driven to find out the truth, no matter what the cost.
Penelope doesn’t just accept what she’s told – ‘these bandits are evil’, for instance. She finds out for herself.
Love looks different from a thousand feet up.
Postmistress Penelope Moser has recently settled with her father in the Wild West town of Fortuna. Shocked by the violence around her and the depressing lives of the town’s women, she throws herself into her job. She’s determined to make the best of it before she has to marry the odious town sheriff.
But when the Persephone Star is spotted in the territory, danger literally hits close to home. Its captain—the famed outlaw Mirage Currier—is fresh out of prison and gunning for revenge on Penelope’s fiancé for locking her up and sentencing her sister to death. Penelope’s pleas to avoid violence are ignored, and a bloody showdown seems inevitable. That is, until Penelope is kidnapped and held hostage on the Star.
Shockingly, Penelope finds intrigue rather than danger in the air. Mirage’s reputation as a hardened criminal doesn’t fit with the Star’s vibrant young captain whose only goal is to save her sister from the gallows. With her sympathies shifting, Penelope must decide whether to remain loyal to her father and the man she promised to marry, or face an uncertain future with an enthralling outlaw.
Jamie Sullivan has been writing for what feels like her entire life – her parents’ attic is full of notebooks brimming with early attempts at fiction. She’s found her stride, however, in romance. She’s happy experimenting with genre, and has written supernatural, science fiction, and realist stories.
To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 gift card to Riptide! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 15, 2020. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. For more chances to enter, follow the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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