WRITING “A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE”           John H. Fishwick

 

The title and the plot are arguably the two most important things to get right in a book as I found when writing my debut novel “A FLIGHT TO ROMANCE”.

First, the title. My novel began several years ago as a technical book about Astronomy, Geology, and Evolution Theory, subjects that, in my opinion, should be studied, at least in a cursory manner, when searching for an answer to the age-old questions: Who are we?; Why are we here?; and What’s the purpose of life? I decided to call my book: “Looking Up and Down in Britain”. ‘Up’ for the stars and ‘Down’ for the rocks. Not surprisingly, Oxford University Press thought that it was a travel book.

Another example. One of my talks that I give at colleges, country clubs, and on cruise ships was entitled “The Search for Extra-Terrestrials”. Attendance was fair to poor. People didn’t know what extra-terrestrials were. Changing the title to: “The Search for Aliens” produced much better results.

Second, the plot. My technical book was about half completed when my first wife died of pancreatic cancer and my enthusiasm for writing died with her A year or so later, I met and married a wonderful lady from Chicago whose husband had passed away over a year ago. This second marriage has proven to be a huge success for both of us, suggesting that we all have the potential for a second chance at romance and happiness. My second wife, Nancy, encouraged me to continue the book and I decided to resurrect it as a novel in which Jeremy Rowlands, an Astronomy professor meets Stephanie Marks, a retired teacher of English and a lover of Art, quite by chance on a flight from Newark, NJ to London, England. They are going on this trip for different reasons, he to visit various scientific sites and she to see the homes and birthplaces of the various poets and authors whose works she had taught to her high school students.

I now decided, quite intentionally, to violate the conventional wisdom of writing a romance. Critics may suggest that if you are writing a book about Science, Literature, and Art, write non-fiction. If you are writing about romance, it should be a novel. My decision was to write about what I knew, which was an intellectual novel in which my protagonists decide to join forces and tour Britain together while discussing Science, Literature, and Art and, in the process, form a strong emotional bond that neither had expected or even wanted.

I knew at the outset that the novel may not appeal to those looking for a bodice-ripper but rather to those ready to be educated in the background of a romance.

I like to think that Astronomy, Geology, Evolution, Literature, and Art are a golden braid in which elements from all seemingly individual subjects are intertwined. You would be forgiven for believing that these subjects are unrelated and each has its own sharp line of demarcation. Astronomy morphs into both religion and philosophy as we discuss what came before the “Big Bang” and what comes after the death of our universe; Geology is not only about rocks but also records the gradual evolution of life from single-celled marine organisms to the much more complex homo- sapiens; and many art masterpieces attest to the painter’s knowledge of science, such as Manet’s “The Boats”, DuChamps’ art in motion, Picassos’s vision of objects seen from more than one side (as one would see at the speed of light), Vermeer’s use of the camera lucida, Munch’s painting of “The Scream”, possibly depicting red sunsets following a recent volcanic explosion, and Le Corbusier’s knowledge of the Golden Ratio.

In summary, you have to decide why you are writing your book in the first place. Is it to sell the most copies or to satisfy your own need to write about what you know and what you love?

Finally, to promote your book, get a professional who knows exactly what to do and how to do it.