First of all, I apologize for the length of these notes and for putting them on their own page in front of the novel, but Iíve a lot to say on the occasion of my 15th Jixaversary! :) As the first to reach this milestone as a continuously active Jix author, I canít help but reflect on everything thatís led me here, and I feel like these real-life stories are as integral to this novel as the characters and plot.
It was 15 years ago today that I happily (excitedly! trepidatiously!) became a Jix author. It was 77 years ago today that the storied French ocean liner, the SS Normandie, landed in New York City from what would tragically become her final voyage.
I absolutely love the World War II era (including the decade leading up to the war). I also love to see how our beloved characters change and also remain the same in different erasówhether I am reading a wonderful fanfic written by the many talented writers we have at Jix or am exploring such a scenario myself (with the characters guiding me, natch!). Add into the mix my insanely strong wanderlust, my love of cruising the seven seas (and any other body of water large enough to support a sea-worthy vessel!), and the occasion of my Jixaversary (can it be 15 years already?!?!), well, it created the perfect recipe to inspire this particular Jixaversary offering.
I came up with this idea while hurtling over the Atlantic Ocean at 650 mph while reflecting on an absolutely epic solo Mediterranean cruise journey last August (on the Norwegian Epic, haha). I also was lucky enough to write two chapters of the novel last November (this was my 2015 National Novel Writing Month novel) while on a cruise ship that had a champagne bar inspired by the SS Normandie herself. (Why, yes, I did break my rule and bring my laptop on vacation specifically because of this fact. I brought said laptop to the champagne bar, ordered Prosecco, and happily typed away while soaking up the art deco atmosphere!)
Iíd say that besides my insatiable love of travel, another thing that defines me is my insatiable love of books, particularly mysteries. All of the chapter titles and the subtitle are riffs on the titles of Agatha Christie novels (or in a couple of cases, the actual titles themselves), which is an homage to a fellow wanderluster, writer, and mystery lover whom Iíve adored since my beloved grandmother introduced me to her when I was 11 years old (as a direct result of my gushing about my love of mystery-solving Trixie Belden and lamenting the fact that I had read every one that had been published, and what was I going to read now?!?). Given that my grandmother also had an insatiable wanderlust and took me on my first two European adventures when I was a teenager, I love the connection to her, too. And, considering my grandmother and I stood in awe together admiring Agatha Christieís wax replica at Madame Tussaudís in London when I was the same age as Trixie when she visited London and the museum, well, itís the icing on a very blessed cake. (As an aside to notes that already are too long, I recently discovered that Agatha Christieís favorite author was Graham Greene, who wrote what many call one of the most notable novels about colonialism in Vietnamówhich is where I happen to be as Susan announces this story.)
All of this to say...I am truly, truly grateful for all of the wonderful, interconnected experiences I have had that have led me to this moment, to this story, to be announced on this occasion.
And, of course, I am even more grateful all of the Jixsters who make Jix a warm, welcoming, close-knit community, especially those who have become my extended family. Thanks to Julia, Susan, and Mary for editing; they make anything I write so much better, and I am eternally grateful for that! An extra thanks to Susan for announcing this for me on my Jixaversary since Iím traveling abroad on my Jixaversary yet again (I just canít help but give in to my wanderlust!). I hope you enjoy this alternate look at the Bob-Whites and what might have been...
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