So I told you about the serendipity we enjoyed while driving through the backroads of County Cork, Ireland, where we tripped over a Toy Soldier manufacturer who had a diorama up of the Battle of Waterloo. Well, that wasn’t all we tripped over. Now, in publishing there is a thing I like to call a Sign from God. What that means is that when you’re going along in a certain direction, be it an idea, an outline, a manuscript or a series, you stumble over something–research, usually. Some bit of info that just dropped into your lap right at the moment you needed it. I was
in the middle of writing a book about the Vietnam nurses and PTSD years ago when my brother, himself a Marine vet from the war, happened to mention some great information he’d just found about PTSD.
“Do you know what they called PTSD in the Civil War?” he asked. And of course I didn’t.
“Well,” he said. “Now it’s called PTSD. In the Korean War it was called Battle Psychosis. In World War II Battle Fatigue and in WWI, Shell Shock. But in the Civil War, they came the closest to actually defining it. In the Civil War, PTSD was called A Soldier’s Heart.”
As you can imagine, a chill went down my back. Not only did that end up being the heart of my book, but the title as well. A sign from God that I was going in the right direction. The book was meant to be. Well, I had another sign from God in Cork. Not a profound one like Soldier’s Heart. More a giggle. As you know, I’m writing a series, DRAKES RAKES, of 9 books about gentlemen spies. I’m not sure if you remember, though, that the first book, BARELY A LADY(yeah. The one I’m giving away), begins just before the Battle of Waterloo (the same battle whose anniversary this current trip is ostensibly about). The book was supposed to begin a trilogy called THE THREE GRACES for the three women (my heroines) who bond in the medical tents in Brussels where they are helping treat the injured from the battle.
As a nurse who actually went into training to go to Vietnam (although I didn’t make it), the idea really spoke to me. And I love my heroines Olivia, Grace and Lady Kate, who bonded there. It really means a lot to me. So imagine my astonishment when I’m looking down at the Waterloo figures in the Prince August catalog–Hussars and Guards and Voltigeurs and Artillery–and see this. It’s a grouping of figures called “A nurse and doctor attend a wounded soldier.” And there, painted in living color, is my Olivia in her Regency dress helping care for the wounded.
“I want this,” I said to the lady at the counter. “In fact, I want two of this.”
She was, as you can imagine, delighted.
“One thing, though.”
She looked up from writing a bill as fast as she could. “Yes?”
“You guys paint them here, right?”
“In fact,” she said with pride. “I paint them.”
I nod. “Well, can you give the soldier more hair?”
She looked at the nearly bald soldier in some confusion.
“He’s to be a romance hero who looks kind of like Hugh Jackman,” I explain. “He needs more hair.”
The good news is that the company is making two sets for me. The better news is that the hero will have all the hair I want. The best news is that this is going to be one of the grand prizes for the blog series. Now you, too, can have a diorama. Not of the battle. Of the heroine being a heroine.
I love signs from God.