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When a boater meets a tourist…

By On Aug 19 2012, 9:00 am

This month has seen the print release for my very first novel, Barging In, and I thought today I'd share a little bit about my original spark of inspiration for this m/m canal-set romance.

I used to live on board a narrowboat and spent a happy couple of years soaking in the sights and sounds of the English canals. Along the towpath you'd see all kinds of magical things, like the iridescent flash of a kingfisher, herons making their nests in the reeds, and cute little hand painted boats covered in tubs of flowers. However, one of my all time favourite sights was watching the shirtless boater men out chopping wood or stripping their engines.

Boaters are hardy folk. You end up out and about in all weathers so you get tanned and fit. It's tough to run a car when you can't easily park it near your boat, so most boaters rely on pedal power instead. And of course, there are all those wonderful tattoos boaters tend to cover themselves in. Yep, watching a fit, tanned, and tattooed man chopping wood is a very pleasant sight indeed!

The opening scene was easy to picture: I had Robin—my lean, tanned and tattooed boater—out chopping wood, but who would be captivated by this sight? Since I'm a fan of throwing opposites together, I set myself thinking about who would be as far removed from a boating lifestyle as possible. I needed a city boy. Someone who had only taken a canal holiday under duress. A travel writer, perhaps, who could represent a kind of über-tourist. Dan Taylor was born.

The uneasy relationship between boaters and tourists is something you probably have to live to really be aware of. The boating community can be pretty closed off to outsiders, with an "us and them" mentality. Boaters look out for other boaters, and will fiercely protect their own interests. I suspect this is in part a response to perceived prejudice towards their way of life, but it's probably something to do with the kind of people who decide to take up this lifestyle in the first place. They're generally proud, independent and rebellious people, who hate to submit to outside authority.

To be honest, at times I was appalled by the way some of the other boaters would treat those on hire-boats. Downright unhelpful was putting it mildly—I've seen outright rudeness before. I've also seen boaters look on and make scornful comments as a hire-boater has got into trouble on the canal, and have ended up being the one shouting advice to help them get out of whatever pickle they've got into. Getting the boat wedged across the canal was a classic one, so I had fun putting Dan in this predicament. Robin, my surly boater, helped him out in the end, but with plenty of cursing for Dan's stupidity. Making these two men fall in love despite themselves was a huge amount of fun!

How about the rest of you? Has anyone else out there ever got into a predicament as a tourist and ended up being rescued by a local? I'd love to hear your stories!

If you'd like to find out more about the section of canal where the story is set, check out my Barging In Pinterest board, and for more about the different kinds of boats on the canal, here's my Quick Guide to Narrowboats.

About the Author:

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. She’s beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Visit Jo’s website at for more information about her published stories, regular blog posts and saucy free reads.



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