19th January has a special place in my diary, on calendar. It is the date whereby Devan Coultrie was released into the universe in Retreating to Peace: A Peace Series Novella.
My second piece of non-fiction, but my first foray into the world of writing romance. There was a bit of romance in Fragments, but not a great deal.
I joined the Peace Novella Series group. Our task was to write stories based upon the fictional town of Peace, Montana. The town, a brain child of fellow author S.H. Pratt. The idea of romance appealed. Especially having written Fragments. I felt as though I had something left in the tank; I fancied writing something different. There were rules, a contract; not a problem. A novella, sweet, fade to black etc. All sensible stuff.
I inked up my fountains pens, I cobbled together a plan. I was literally making it up as I went along.
Who was this fella? Devan Raaj Coultrie, a former hedge fund manager who was born and raised in Rugby, Warwickhire. He was heart broken, a bit of a rebel and wanted to start again.
On the other side of the universe. He would be the centre of his 100 acres in Peace; he was going to a big hitter and perhaps wear a tux. There’d be a bit of South Asian Culture in there. No way, no how. Was this fella going to hit all the boxes on a Romance Writers trope bingo card.
He wasn’t going to be the average male romance book character.
And man alive. I read a few by of preparation. I worked my way through a fair few Mills and Boon’s. I looked at the data. There were very few male characters of South Asian origin. Many were feckless playboys, who were fly-by-nights, who left broken hearts, and sometimes babies in their wake. Oh, and would drop their kit at the sight of a heaving bosom to rip bodices. There was some aristocrats, royalty, you get the idea.
We didn’t yet have Hooch Baron.
Plus, as a therapist, I tutted, rolled my eyes at the traits that these fellas had. There are far too many for me to critically evaluate and assess with the application of therapeutic modalities and theories in this post. Alas, this made me think.
Devan Coultrie, was not going to be a door handle. He would also keep his kit on. Mostly.
The women in his world. They’d be different too. They too, wouldn’t be the conquests, the trembling bottom lip….tokens of characteristics. There’s Aditi, Avni, Aida…that’s a lot of A’s. Oh,and his sister-in-law, Libby. They would be present, realistic and of value. They’d have an authenticity to them, and not the typical ‘brittle’ quality that is so common.
Funny thing though. Aditi gets some interesting reader reactions.
Remember, how I mentioned the Peace Novella Series. Well. I did something. I met them, a few of them. In….drumroll….MONTANA. Now this is the stuff of romance. Who, because of a fella, books an adventure, takes a flight….erm. Me.
S.H. Pratt, or Stef! Created, hosted the inaugural Big Sky Book Event in Billings, Montana.
Let’s have a bit of flashback right here
“Why write books sat in Montana?”
“Have you been, do you plan to go there?”
“Sure, maybe. Why not? I mean, never say never. This is me. I got to Reykjavík and back.”
And, back to the present. I went. Because of Devan Coultrie.
I met Stef, Ariel, Jenn and Susan. In 3D. And we were the Peace Novella Series Authors. I heard the radio jingle that mentioned the international contingent. Jenn, bless her, looked at me. “That’s you!” she said. I nearly fell to the floor.
I’ve done a fair few interesting things, because of Devan Coulrie.
There was the book launch in the Gunmaker’s Arms, as Storm Dennis raged.
Storm, bloody, Dennis.
I will never forgive the British Weather and because of that one night.
The Gunmakers and Devan, have history. Way back when, I stood near a pillar during a reading event. I read Costume Drama. That is where Britain met the hooch Baron.
I was petrified that day. I even had Lee Benson and Martin Tracey roped in to read. JA Media had the mic’s, the PA. I read from all three Devan books. Yeah, by 2020, there were three.
This was proper, Vive Le Hooch Baron.
It gets better. JA Media is a big part of the Devan Coultrie Journey.
Somewhere in between the two 2020 lockdowns. I volunteered to make a film. JA Media planned to work with local authors, to make films. Only, it would need a script. Human beings too. I taught myself how to write a script. We then needed a cast.
JA Media and I, had to find them. The human beings that would be Devan, Aditi, Mike the Barman….we needed locations.
We found Devan. There was a lot of stress. I mean, who wants to work on something that’s a huge leap, and for free? There was no budget for this. Then, with the magic of social media and also A.A.Abbott sending out a re-tweet.
Habemus Une Devan.
A certain Vimal Korpal, was cast. He’d be donning the Dr.Martens.
The Dr.Martens. The minute he put those on. I didn’t keel over; I was leaning against a wall, clutching my director’s folder. There it was again.
Habemus Une Devan.
Vive le hooch baron
I will never forget Vimal uttering Devan’s lines. I was only just able to stay say on my chair-I didn’t have my bond villan chair at that time. Oh, and the grin! He had Devan Coultrie’s grin.
The Hooch Baron. That was him, the other side of zoom.
That’s hard to wrap your imagination around. The fella who for years has been inside of a book, inky squiggles. Was all very real. Then came the rest of cast, the crew. Through the magic of the Universe. We had a cast/crew. Make Up Artists, Production assistants.
Even Ruby the dog was part of this experience.
We shot the movie. Over three days, during the highs and lows of the pandemic. Through, around everyone’s real life, real job commitments. There was rain, snow, heat waves…..samosa chaats, pizza and of course, biryani.
I had to conquer my fear of motorways to edit the movie with JA Media.
I’ve danced around the Bond Villain chair to the Devan Coultrie Theme tune. That’s a nice feeling.
There was the big, whoop do moment of releasing the poster. I knitted that hat….
As I write this, I am days away from the fifth anniversary of Devan Coultrie going live. It’s been an interesting five years.
Without Devan, his saga and the Peace Novella Series, a lot might not have happened. I’d probably still be avoiding motorways, to be honest.
Not sure yet when the movie comes out. It will. I promise. In the mean time, go read the books.
And once more. For everyone.
Habemus Une Devan.
Vive le hooch baron