Yacht Chef Victoria Allman values facts and truthfulness. Her first two books are well-researched collections of international recipes and actual vignettes from her career onboard yachts with her husband, Patrick.
But her most recent book takes her off course. “Wander” is a work of fiction and it is set on a sailboat, not a megayacht.
“At first, I struggled with making things up,” Allman said. “With yachting books I wanted to be 100-percent correct. With this, I felt like I was lying at first.”
With the help of a writing group of mystery authors and some research, Allman realized, “just because you haven’t killed someone, doesn’t mean you can’t write about it.”
It was time for something new.
The idea for the novel started about eight years ago when M/Y Cocoa Bean was in St. Thomas. Allman and her husband scuba dived with Sean of the Pirate’s Chest treasure shop. He told them tales of finding coins, pottery and bottles from shipwrecks.
“He started talking and I started underwater thinking,” Allman said. “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone really found big treasure?”
During that dive, a plot emerged: A woman sails to the Caribbean to find her father who she was told was dead.
Even with fiction, Allman prefers to write what she knows (Allman said she does know where her parents are). But for this book she had to learn a few new things. Since the character sails a 30-foot boat, Allman wanted to learn.
“I took lessons and learned how to sail so I could use terminology correctly, and we dove more so I could get those scenes right,” Allman said. “I gained hobbies to write this.”
Allman is already planning her next work of fiction.
“Once I got into it, I really liked it,” she said.
Even in a novel, Allman could not fictionalize the locations of Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Turks and Caicos, and the Virgin Islands. The next setting will be New Orleans and the Bahamas.
“It’s filled with the places crew have been or are going to, every bar and restaurant that is part of the yachting life. I have spent 15 years visiting these places on yachts. Each stop is a real-life place, 100 percent true.”
For more on Wander visit www.victoriaallman.com.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.