I fell in love with houseboats after seeing “Sleepless in Seattle” so many years ago, and after I got married in 2001, my husband and I settled in Seattle. We thought about buying a houseboat, but for one reason or another, it never worked out, and we ended up purchasing a traditional home (i.e., one with a foundation). But, years later—and now with three boys under the age of six—I never gave up on the houseboat dream, even if it still seemed a tad impractical and out of reach. When compiling ideas for my fifth novel, which I recently sold to my editor at Penguin, I knew exactly where I wanted the book to be set. Any guesses? Yes, on a Seattle houseboat.
For research, I figured I’d interview houseboat residents, read up on the lifestyle, and if I was lucky, maybe rent one for a night. But then, my husband made a very generous suggestion. He said, “Why don’t you rent a houseboat for a few months as your office?” At first I refused. It seemed like a crazy-extravagant expense, especially when I’d hardly be able to sneak out everyday to write (remember, the kids)! But, I began to think about it, and he had a point: What better way for me to really soak up the houseboat lifestyle than to have one all to myself–to be able to pop over during the weekend and write a chapter, or stay up late and edit while stealing glances at the sparkling water with the moon shining above. I caved and said yes.
We ended up finding the most charming little houseboat on the east side of Lake Union and signed a four-month lease (which means I’ll be able to see three seasons on the houseboat: summer, fall and winter, since we have through New Year’s). It has a loft bedroom with a porthole window (accessed by the quaint ship’s ladder), a charming little kitchen stocked with all the essentials, a rooftop deck with a breathtaking view of the city and the Space Needle, a pair of kayaks, and, two resident mallard ducks who waddle past my deck every day.
I wrote the first two chapters of this new novel recently, and I already feel such a connection to the characters and the setting. As I type this on my laptop, I’m sitting on the sofa that looks out at the lake. A gentle wake from a boat is lapping up against the side of the houseboat, and the sunset is a golden-purple hue. It’s about as good as it gets!
Stay tuned for details about the new novel, (including the title!), in months to come. For now, I can say that it will debut most likely in the late fall or winter of 2013.
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.