C.L.R. Dougherty on Location in St. Martin for a Book Release Celebration…or is it?
Welcome to another edition of Talk Radio with NO Radio! On location and broadcasting remote and straight to you from St. Martin, we will be joining author CLR Dougherty for a Book Release Celebration party, and hopefully, I am going to scoop an exclusive interview for you today!
I’ve just arrived at Kim Sha Beach at Simpson Bay; Charles couldn’t have picked a nicer place for this shindig. This is quite the party site, too. St. Martin’s huge annual bash for the Heineken Regatta was held here just a couple of months ago. Between the restaurants, bars and resorts surrounding this amazing beach, I am going to enjoy my stay…I jumped at the invitation to come to this event, St Martin, come on, who wouldn’t? This is also a long-overdue romantic getaway for my husband and I — but business first. Let’s go find Charles and see if we can get that interview!
We are walking down the beach towards a huge tent. It’s about 4 in the afternoon and a comfortable 82 degrees, complimented by a lovely warm breeze…just makes you want to pop into any one of these little beach bars and ask for a Mojito! <stops, turns to the water, lifts chin to soak in the sun’s rays with closed eyes, sighs a deep release of tension and breathes in, as if to absorb the entire experience in one breath>
Wow! This place is amazing. I wish I could have brought you all here with me! The water is the most stunning shade of blue I have ever seen. There are a couple dozen sailboats anchored just off shore, bobbing gently on this tranquil edge of the ocean. <walks to water’s edge and gazes out to sea> Standing here, just at the edge of the water, is the perfect place to take it all in and enjoy the warm, soothing waves as they spread up onto these white sandy beaches and tease our toes. <Shakes off the dreamy thought of staying in this paradise forever and looks down the beach, takes husband’s hand and refocuses>
Off we go then. Let’s get to the celebration and find Charles. I see quite a few people milling around on the beach around the tent. Right there on the side of the tent is a banner, “Blue Water Ice – Book Release Celebration” and “Congratulations C L R Dougherty!” is a on a flag that is waving ever so gently from one of the tent poles in this wonderful breeze. The tent is set up open air; the sides are pulled to the corners and tied back with rope. I see tables inside, displaying a long buffet of appetizers and fruit baskets, an ice sculpture and a champagne fountain. We’ll make our way through the crowd here and ah, there in the corner near a table filled with books, appears to be the guest of honor! Let’s go introduce ourselves…
DH: Hello! You must be Charles.
CD: Yes. Hello. Judging by the microphone, you must be Mrs. Hartmann, all the way from North Carolina to join our celebration.
DH: Absolutely. Thank you so much for inviting me! It’s a great pleasure to meet you. Please just call me Debra or Deb. This is my husband, Bob. Today, he’s my roadie, of course. <Charles extends a hand, but Bob’s hands are full and he rushes to set the bags down and accept the handshake. We all laugh, and the ice is broken.>
CD: It’s wonderful that you came all this way just to do this interview. Thanks! I have a signed copy of Bluewater Ice set aside for you. I hope you enjoy it enough to make the trip worthwhile.
DH: Oh, thank you. I wasn’t expecting that but I certainly will treasure it. I have a few signed books, it’s a hobby really to collect them, but only from authors that I have met so they truly have some meaning. You know this sets you up for another book review too!
CD: Well, I hope so! <Grins ear to ear and gestures for us to take seats behind the book signing table with him> So, join me here and we can talk and do that interview. It may get a bit loud when more guests start to arrive.
DH: Brilliant! And then I, well I mean we, can focus just on the celebration afterwards!
CD: I’m planning to slip out before it gets too crazy. I left big bashes like this behind when I bailed out of the corporate world. We’ll have a mob of locals and tourists showing up for the free booze. I’ll leave a couple of folks here to make everybody welcome; maybe they’ll even sell a few books. Maybe you and Bob could skip out with us and have a sundowner on the boat.
DH: You mentioned having your boat just off the beach when we spoke a few days ago. Can I see it from here?
CD: <Standing up, gesturing toward the bay> Sure. She’s the little green one just to the left of that big white one. See it? With Play Actor across the stern?
DH: Wow! What a beauty! Are you always anchored in such lovely spots?
CD: Most of the time, but all of the islands are different. Some are a lot prettier in terms of their natural beauty. St. Martin’s unique because it’s split down the middle, politically. The northern part is a department of France and the southern part is a Dutch colony. This is one of our favorite hangouts; we’re sitting here on the border between the French side and the Dutch side, a ten minute dinghy ride from some of the best French restaurants in the world. And then there are the beaches…
DH: So is this why so many of your books are set in the Caribbean and feature sailing?
CD: Yes. It’s hard to be here and not share it all in a story or two.
DH: It is getting a little loud already. Can we walk for a few minutes and talk?
CD: Sure. Let’s walk down the beach a bit—
<Microphone tap, tap, tap sounds out, and the crowd’s heads turn towards the source. A loud squeal comes over the speakers on tripod-like stands in the two corners facing out to the beach. Positioned dead center between the speakers and just in front of the buffet table is a petite woman with short, curly blond hair. She’s holding a microphone.>
PA system: Welcome, everyone! Welcome. My name is Dani Berger; I’ll be your hostess this evening. Thank you all for coming! We are here to celebrate the release of a new book by Mr. Dougherty over here <waves for Charles to join her, “excuse me” Charles whispers to me and then walks toward the announcer> Come on over here Charles. Everyone, this is Charles L R Dougherty, author of the Bluewater Thriller Series as well as some other great novels, but we are here tonight to celebrate his latest release, Bluewater Ice, the fourth in the series, and, well, I wouldn’t even exist if not for this man’s wonderful imagination! Let’s give him a big hand, everyone!
<Clapping overtakes the crowd, making the number of people in attendance more obvious…at least a hundred people are shoulder to shoulder inside the tent now and another hundred or so have gathered around just outside, all facing Dani and listening attentively. The din of clapping hands fades as Charles accepts the microphone from Dani.>
CD: Thanks, Dani. Is your sidekick here tonight?
Dani: Liz? She’s here somewhere. This is all about you, though. <”Hey! We love you Charles!” resounds. From deep in the middle of the crowd a hand rises above and waves frantically.> Oh, there she is. Liz and I can’t thank you enough for our parts in your story and of course we wish you much success with the latest release!
<Another round of applause breaks out. The frantic hand in the crowd still waves but moves ever closer to Dani and Charles. Another blonde about Dani’s size continues to wave as she breaks through the front of the crowd and steps up to join them. At a little distance, the two women could be mistaken for sisters, except that Dani is blue-eyed where this new woman has flashing green eyes. They’re dressed alike; both wear white T-shirts with a large picture of a sailing yacht on the back and the word Vengeance emblazoned prominently across the front. Knee-length khaki shorts and deck shoes without socks complete their crew uniforms. The newcomer takes the microphone.>
Liz: Hi! I’m Liz Chirac. Dani and I are thrilled that you could make it tonight–
<She’s interrupted by the crowd.>
Liz: Thank you! Thanks for coming. We want everyone to enjoy their time here with us tonight; it sounds like you are already. Dani and I will be at the book-signing table <waves toward corner where we first met Charles and now wait for him, so we wave back at the crowd like the two goofballs we are> for a bit while you all enjoy the buffet. Stop by and get your signed copy of Bluewater Ice and say hello. Drinks—
<She’s interrupted again.>
“Yea! Free booze!”
Liz: Yes. Free Booze – always a must at a party, right? Just over there <points to the corner opposite the book-signing table> is where those with the personal invitations should gather in two hours. Dani and l will be taking you out to the Vengeance by way of those small boats along the beach for a sunset cruise after the party.
CD: Thanks, Liz and Dani, for all your hard work in putting this together, and thanks for being in the books, as well. Dani said you wouldn’t be here except for my imagination, but we wouldn’t be having this party except for you letting me tell your story. <He shakes their hands and returns to the corner where Bob and I are waiting to continue our interview.>
DH: Well, you have quite the following out here Charles. They seem to know you so well here on the island.
CD: I think they know the free booze better! <smiles knowingly>
DH: Shall we take that walk then? I sense you’ll be needed at this book-signing table as soon as glasses are filled and plates of food devoured.
CD: Could be, but I signed books for the last two days so that I wouldn’t have to stay. Liz and Dani will take care of everything. Let’s do the rest of that interview and then we can all kick back and enjoy the evening.
DH: Brilliant! Lead the way. <We slip through an opening behind the table and next to the corner where the tent sides are tied back in a bundle. We work our way through a few groups of stragglers waiting to get closer to the event as they sip drinks with umbrellas sticking out of them and laugh. As we walk by, some of them point and stare.>
CD: Tourists. They came in droves when Dani and Liz started posting the signs by the pools of the two big resorts earlier today.
DH: Such a good turnout for so little advertising. That’s great. <now walking side by side, microphone in hand, Bob trailing behind with the remote box and the binder with Deb’s notes and a beer he swiped on this way out of the tent> So, Charles, my first question for you is this. Obviously we all know the name of the latest book now, but could you explain to us just briefly what it is about?
CD: Actually, you just met two of the main characters. Dani Berger and Liz Chirac own and run a 60-foot charter yacht named Vengeance. The whole Bluewater Thriller series is about their escapades. In Bluewater Ice, Connie Barrera is their guest and she’s just run off with $10 million in diamonds that she ‘found’ in Nassau; the people who lost them are chasing her. Neither the thugs who are after Connie nor Connie herself have any idea what kind of people Liz and Dani are. Dani has family friends scattered through the islands, and most of them will come to her aid in a pinch. Dani and Liz are resourceful in their own right, and the Bluewater Thrillers are filled with bad guys who came to grief by underestimating the two of them.
DH: Do you have plans for more books in the series?
CD: Yes, I already have preliminary ideas for the fifth and sixth books, so I think it will go on for quite a while. Part of the fun of a series is watching the characters grow and change as a result of their experiences, and that doesn’t get old. The evolution of the relationship between Dani and Liz is as fascinating as the predicaments that influence their behavior.
DH: I haven’t read any of these books but I did so enjoy your book Twisted Love. Having come here and seen your inspiration and met the ladies, I must read this series! It sounds very interesting and exciting! Tell me though, what do you think makes a great story?
CD: Beyond the basics, I think it’s important to have well-developed characters with whom the reader will empathize. Even villains should evoke an empathetic response some of the time, if they’re realistic. Giving the reader a clear picture of the environment is important, too, because it shapes the characters and puts them in context.
DH: Absolutely. It’s often said, “A good book makes you feel.” For me, that is half of what affects my written book reviews, what I feel, how much I feel, etc. I’m curious. Which kind of reader do you think will enjoy this Bluewater Thriller series?
CD: The target audience is made up of people who like action / adventure thrillers with a strong female protagonist – that’s Dani. There’s a good bit of sailing, and a lot of local color, as well, so there’s a special appeal for readers who like to be transported to exotic locales while reading a fast-paced, realistic thriller.
DH: Alright, so how about a little background about you Charles. When you first started writing, how did you write?
CD: I wrote Deception in Savannah, my first novel, with a pen, working in a loose-leaf binder. I didn’t key it into a computer until about the fourth or fifth rewrite. At the time, I could write much faster than I could type. That’s changed over the course of the last eight books. Not only has my typing improved, but I’ve developed a process that speeds up my writing. I spent a couple of years working on that first novel; I wrote Bluewater Ice in eight weeks, from start to publication.
DH: Are any of your characters based heavily on people you know or have met from real life and if so, would they regard it as a compliment or an insult to discover they were the inspiration for the character in question?
CD: I recently received an alarming email from an old friend who had just finished Twisted Love. She said something to the effect that she had really enjoyed it, especially since it was about people we both knew. You just reviewed the book, so you can understand why that comment rattled me. All of my characters are composites, made up of traits that I find interesting in people that I meet. None of my characters is based substantially on any one person, so I wrote my friend back and asked her to elaborate. Her answer was absolutely fascinating to me; none of the people that she thought she recognized were people that I consciously considered when I was writing the book. I’m pretty sure that no one would feel complimented to learn that they inspired some of those characters.
DH: Just goes to show you, you really can’t anticipate all the ways that people can identify or relate to different aspects of your books. It’s a crap shoot really but well written books can have a wide range of effects on a wide range of readers and that is a great measure of success! Have you ever written a supporting character who took on a life of their own or turned out to be far more popular than expected and if so do you have plans to feature them as the lead character in a story of their own?
CD: Yes. I’ve had that happen more than once. Two characters from Deception in Savannah come to mind. One was Connie Barrera; I found her to be an interesting person. She was a survivor who fought her way up from her humble beginnings; she was led astray by situational ethics and narrowly escaped becoming an out-and-out crook. She features prominently in Bluewater Ice. The other character from Deception in Savannah who begs for his own story is Donald Tompkins, a would-be con man with attention deficit disorder and a photographic memory. He’s going to show up in a book of his own one of these days.
DH: Why did you start writing?
CD: <laughs and still grinning widely he answers> I keep asking myself that question. I couldn’t tell you why I started smoking or drinking, either, but I was able to give up those two vices. Writing is a different kind of addiction, I suppose…
DH: Now about that free booze <points back to the party> will you join me in a quick drink and a toast to your success?
CD: Do you think we are going to be able to get back in through that crowd?
DH: Maybe not! The music is blaring, everyone is dancing and having a blast, what a great party but I too left my party days behind me years ago-
CD: Won’t you both join me for a night cap on the boat? The dinghy is just right there, and I have some snacks aboard, too—
DH: Oh that’s very thoughtful but we don’t want to intrude and I already had to get on a plane this week. I don’t want to push my sanity and include a boat at this point! I am a land lover, I’ll admit it! <shrugs and smiles>
CD: Ah, another time then, I am going to slip away though, it was so great to finally meet you in person and thank you so much for coming. I hope you will enjoy your stay on the island, how long will you be here?
<the light reflecting off the water shimmers and the temperature and fragrance of the air changes slowly, yet drastically as Debra awakens from a nap on her sofa near the picture window in her studio, high in the mountains of Asheville, NC. Cobwebs clear away and leave the memories of the wonderful conversations shared with C L R Dougherty earlier today, about the interview and about how much he loves the time he spends in St. Martin. She reflects on their conversations, the wonderful pictures he shared and realizes she needs to get the interview written, as promised for publishing today and is running late now because she dozed off. Looking over the notes, Debra realizes the interview and the skit are done but is quite foggy about how or when that happened exactly…>
Find out more about Charles Dougherty:
Links to his books on Amazon:
Charles Dougherty wrote quite a bit of fiction before publishing Deception in Savannah, his first novel. Most of his earlier fiction works took the form of business plans, written to secure funding for projects and startup ventures during his corporate and consulting work, but he put all of that behind him when he wrote Deception in Savannah, a tongue-in-cheek crime novel.
Since Deception in Savannah was published, he has written a number of other books. Bluewater Killer, Bluewater Vengeance, Bluewater Voodoo, and Bluewater Ice are the first four books in his Bluewater Thriller series. The Bluewater Thrillers are set in the yachting world of the Caribbean and chronicle the adventures of two young women running a luxury charter yacht in a rough-and-tumble environment. Book five of the Bluewater Thriller series will be published in the second half of 2013. His most recent book before Bluewater Ice was Twisted Love, a psycho-thriller, published in February, 2013.
He has also written two non-fiction books. Life’s a Ditch is the story of how he and his wife moved aboard their sailboat, Play Actor, and their adventures along the east coast of the U.S. Dungda de Islan’ relates their experiences while cruising the Caribbean.
He resides with his wife aboard Play Actor, sailing wherever they fancy and the trade winds take them.