Guest Author Post: Introducing Kate Owen and Safe Passage
My debut novel, Safe Passage, happened against all assumptions I made about the story and myself. It all started with my New Year’s Resolution.
New Year’s resolutions, when you commit to them, can really surprise you. I’m not talking about my perennial one, “I’m going to the gym more.” mean the resolutions you really want to keep. Last year, I challenged myself to submit to at least one anthology calling for fiction every month. I’d never been published before and I figured the only way to do it was to actually submit some things for consideration.
So, I was at work January third or fourth (you know, before the resolution becomes, “Eh, well, I tried.”) spending my lunch hour scouring the internet for a prompt for my first submission. I came across the Less than Three Press “Call for Submissions” page for their anthologies.
“Write a story that is a new version of message in a bottle,” I said to myself as I shook my head at the screen. “Oh, God that is so lame, I’m not going to write that.” Trying not to give it another thought, I got up and went to the teacher’s lounge to make another cup of tea. I was running out of the mint-vanilla-chai amazingness that I’d discovered on my last trip to San Francisco and made a mental note to order some more online.
As I waited for the water to heat up, I kept grousing about the prompt. “Message in a bottle, how are we going to make LGBT fiction stand out in the straight community if we just recycle their tropes?” When I get on one of these mumbling to myself rants my coworkers know it’s better to just let me go that ask what I’m muttering about.
I walked back to my classroom, trying to decide where I’d look for my next prompt, when I set my favorite Wonder Woman mug on the desk so hard I’m surprised it didn’t crack. “Unless of course she finds a hidden safe while doing a home renovation and discovers a coded message that leads her not only to the love of her life but also to a mystery about the woman she inherited the house from.” I played the story over in my head and thought about what I could do with it. “Damnit, now I want to write it.”
I pulled the website back up and checked the due date for the anthology, and I winced . Three weeks to write a minimum of 20,000 words while I worked full time teaching was not an unheard of goal for me, but it would be a lot of writing. I decided that it wouldn’t happen, but that I’d write the first scene so I could get it out of my system. After all, I wasn’t a romance writer, and even though I’m a lesbian, I’d never written LGBT fiction. I figured the project would stall and then I’d pick something else to write.
Yet again, I confounded my own expectations. My afternoon students work self paced and unless one was asking me for help on a question, I think I wrote solidly from 11:30 until my workday ended at five. I’d created Jules and Gen and now I wanted to see how their story played out. All I did in the evenings was write, read, and revise. It’s also possible I showed more History Channel documentaries to my students in the month of January that year than I did in the rest of the calendar year combined. By the time the deadline came, I’d written almost 30,000 words and submitted it, hoping that the story would make the serial anthology, then I started on my next submission.
I heard back and not only did Less than Three want Safe Passage, they wanted to run it as a novel instead of a serial. Thrilled doesn’t begin to cover what I felt, and now on February 5, 2014, it’ll be available via ebook.
— Kate Owen
Synopsis: While doing renovation on the old New Orleans home inherited from her great aunt, Jules discovers an old safe filled with letters written in French—and code. Enlisting the aid of a local French teacher, the beautiful Gen, Jules slowly begins to learn the truth of her great grandfather’s death …