Firebird

Bob Holt

Book Cover

GENRE

DRAMA ROMANCE

    Core Theme

    REBIRTH

    TIME PERIOD

    1960s & '70s,1980s & '90s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    OVERBOARD, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, HOUSEBOAT, CAPTAIN RON

    CHARACTER LIST

    SAM: 40. LEAD. HEADSTRONG AND DETERMINED, BUT CARING.

    IAN: 22. SAM’S DECKHAND WHO RAN AWAY FROM SCHOOL TO WORK ON A BOAT.

    ANNA: 39-40. SAM’S LOVE INTEREST AND IAN’S MOTHER.

    THE HAITIAN/GUY MONT VIOLET: 45. VIOLENT SMUGGLER WHO WANTS ANNA BACK AND WILL HURT SAM AND IAN TO GET WHAT HE WANTS.

    SARAH: 20S. IAN’S GIRLFRIEND WHO LEAVES SUDDENLY BECAUSE SHE’S PREGNANT WITH ANOTHER MAN’S CHILD.

    CHARLIE: 40-50S. MARINA MANAGER AND SAM’S FRIEND, LOOKS OUT FOR HIM.

    Logline

    An old sailing yacht in the Caribbean brings together three un-anchored souls, drifting through life. The old ketch is to be scuttled when Sam Berenger rescues it to restart to his own dead-end life. As layers of decay are stripped away, Firebird's tragic history is revealed.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,18-34,55+

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Outskirts Press

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    In the sixties, Hugh Blaylock, a wealthy industrialist, dreaming of sailing the world, is performing final sail tests on his new yacht. Afterwards, he returns to his hotel and dies of a heart attack. Years later, Sam Berenger rolls the dice and buys Firebird, preventing her from being scuttled.

    Ending Description

    After spending months together struggling to restore Firebird into a high-end charter yacht, Sam Berenger, Anna Neeson, and her college son, Ian, fight off a hi-jacking effort by an international smuggling ring to become the stars of that year's Charter Boat Show on Saint Thomas.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-1-9772-2528-3

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending,Meaningful Message,Philosophical Questions,Twist

    Plot - Premise

    Quest,Internal Journey/Rebirth,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Sam Berrenger

    Age: 40

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Insecure,Honorable,Empathetic,Charming,Sarcastic,Funny,Sexy,Masculine,Engaging,Romantic,Flexible,Complex

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Anna Neeson

    Age: 39 - 40

    Gender: Female

    Role: Emotional

    Key Traits: Complex,Desperate,Empathetic,Narcisstic,Sexy,Outspoken,Secretive,Insecure,Adventurous,Aspiring,Charming,Blunt,Romantic,Seductive,Naive

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Ian Neeson

    Age: 22

    Gender: Male

    Role: sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Modest,Obedient,Sexy,Selfless,Funny,Romantic,Sarcastic,Lone Wolf,Naive,Educated,Heartthrob,Faithful,Engaging,Empathetic,Confident,Complex,Charming,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Guy Mont Violet

    Age: 45

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Crazy,Criminal,Greedy,Leader,Masculine,Villainous,Narcisstic,Sexy,Power Hungry,Secretive,Manipulative

    Development Pitch

    I see Firebird as either a feature film or a TV series. The visuals are breath taking - beautiful Caribbean paradise, gorgeous sailing yachts, turquoise water, white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, blue sky and blue ocean. Beautiful bronze people, both natives on the island and the main characters, each on their own quest, fighting their own demons, and finding in each other the object of their most secret desires. Sam Berrenger, jobless and with no prospects, finds and restores an old sailing yacht in the Caribbean hoping to enter the charter business. Firebird was once the dream of a wealthy industrialist who died the day she was christened. Sam is joined in the effort by a mother and her son, each in pursuit of their own unrequited dreams. Firebird’s sad history - (previous owners who had great dreams when she was purchased, but for a variety of reasons, things didn't work out, causing Firebird's sad demise) is revealed during the restoration. In the end. Sam discovers the family he always wanted, but thugs on the island hijack Firebird, and Sam is once again faced with losing everything. Firebird is a real boat, currently in Phuket, Thailand and recently underwent a million dollar refit with her new owner. The prologue with her owner dying the day she was launched is based on a true story. John Timken of the major bearing company in Columbus, Ohio designed Firebird and died the day she was christened. The rest is a product of the author's imagination.

    Genre

    ROMANCE, MATURE AUDIENCE, DRAMA

    Brief

    A down-on-his-luck sailor buys an equally beat-up yacht and sets to fixing it up so it can be chartered by rich clientele. A runaway college student helps him out, and the student’s mom, who comes looking for him, soon does as well. However, she ran afoul of the wrong people on the island, leading them all into danger with powerful smugglers. Working together, they’re able to defeat the bad guys and get the yacht ready for passengers, while finding a family in each other along the way.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    By and large, yes, the book profile accurately represents the project. The genres are a bit off, though, and mystery and action aren’t a key part of the story.

    Draw of Story

    The Caribbean setting is superb, and it’s an instant draw into the story. What’s more, yachts are interesting, and not a location that average people get to experience. Sam’s task of getting the Firebird ready for the sea again, and all of the little details included, are fascinating. You want Sam to succeed straight away, and you want to take this voyage with him. The upkeep of a large yacht is new to him as well, which makes it a great entry point for the audience.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The female characters in this book are a little stale. They seem to purely be there for Sam to sleep with, conveniently available for his charms. Take Evelyn, who has children to get back to, but he selfishly wants her to stay. Sam is endlessly thinking about how attractive Evelyn and then Anna are, and even Darlene who’s been dead for twenty years (and left him before she passed). They’re continuously sexualized, while none of their other traits or skills are emphasized much. Anna is sort of blamed for the whole fiasco with the Haitian, and she’s merely a damsel in distress to be saved, first by Ian and then by Sam. Sam takes up her father-in-law’s mantle in the end, giving Anna another strong man to rule her life. Even if she has more agency with Sam, we only see that played out in domestic ways — what fabric to reupholster the cushions, or what food to cook. It would be nice to see her hold her own against Sam, and potentially even help save herself from the Haitian.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The setting on a yacht in the Caribbean is so unique, and it’s a great hook for a film. It’s easy to see a trailer for this catching an audience’s interest thanks to the beautiful setting. It has a great wish fulfillment element, which is such a boon for any movie. Who doesn’t want to be on a yacht in beautiful, clear water, after all? There isn’t a lot of media set in this tropical paradise, and the story capitalizes on this distinction.

    Fanbase Potential

    As a Caribbean romance, this could be a very rewatchable film, which in turn raises the potential for a large fanbase. Due to the age of the protagonists and the genre, the fanbase is likely limited to a traditional older female audience which does limit its potential slightly.

    Awards Potential

    Due to the genre, it’s unlikely to have awards potential.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    OVERBOARD, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, HOUSEBOAT, CAPTAIN RON

    What’s New About the Story

    The fact that the story takes place on a boat is so original, possibly the most original aspect of the film. The other unique aspect is that the writer doesn’t shy away from some of the darkness in Sam and Anna’s characters nor their pasts. The main narrative of getting the boat ready for the show is also original, but unfortunately the show itself isn’t shown. Potentially featuring the boat show and possibly even an actual charter could push this even further and really make the most of a unique environment.

    Lead Characters

    Allowing Sam and Anna to be flawed is a great choice. They must accept who they are and sort of find themselves before they can find love in one another. Anna’s recklessness gets them into the situation with the Haitian, and the guilt never leaves her. Ian also feels like he has to be responsible for Anna, rather than the other way around, and it’s refreshing to hear him be so frank about it. Anna slowly comes into her own as she takes on more responsibility, and by the end she finally feels like a full-fledged adult, something that was sorely missing in her life before.

    Uniqueness of Story

    The setting makes it a rare gem, and it could be ideal if someone was looking to make a movie or show in that location. However, the story doesn’t live up to the setting, as it’s fairly flat. Improving the pace and inserting more plot points would help immensely. Currently there’s not much that happens on the page. Most of the book is spent preparing the yacht for the upcoming charter show, but the story ends before the show. The big, action climax with the Haitian and his men comes late in the novel, and it feels like it all wraps up fairly quickly.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    The story is flat, as not much actually occurs in the novel. The emotional beats could potentially make up for it, but they don’t currently. Instead, the love story doesn’t feel earned as Sam and Anna fall for each other what seems like almost overnight. As soon as they start sleeping together, which also happens rapidly, they’re a serious couple. It’s too easy and it’s awfully convenient that Ian just happens to start working for Sam, and Ian’s appropriately-aged mom just happens to come down to the Caribbean to see him. There’s a lot of coincidences in the storytelling instead of logical plot points.

    Tips for Improvement

    The story needs to be better developed to be considered or recommended. What’s on the page unfortunately isn’t compelling for most of the novel. While it’s very interesting to see what goes into fixing up an old, damaged yacht, it does grow stale. The relationship between Sam and Anna is too easy, and having them quickly get along takes away from could be very good tension between them — instead of just sexual tension that’s resolved in the blink of an eye. It might make more sense to tell the story from Ian’s point of view, and it would make a more dramatic film with a wider audience thanks to his younger age. He’s the one that runs away from school and flees to the Caribbean to work on a boat on a mere whim. Nearly everything that happens in the story happens to him just as much as to Sam and Anna, and he even has his own love story to boot. He also has a great arc, as he has to learn what he really wants so that he can go back to school and finish his degree.

    Brief

    When a man with nowhere to call home buys an old sailing yacht in the Caribbean, it brings him two other unanchored souls who are just as desperate for a fresh start. Together they fix up the boat while forming their own little family.

    What We Liked

    This story has an amazing message for all three of its main characters. They all go through a personal journey wherein they learn what they really want out of life and how to seize it, and it’s empowering to see them exit the other side changed and hopeful. The romantic pair, Sam and Anna, aren’t perfect by any means, and they know it. They both work to be better, while physically working on fixing up the yacht at the same time. The new-looking Firebird yacht at the end of the book represents their shiny, refurbished lives, and it’s a home for their new found family.

    Film: Everyone loves a romantic story, and one set at sea only makes it better. Sam has sunk his life into this yacht, and the stakes are high for him to get everything ready in time before the big charter show so that he’ll be able to woo clients and pay for this brave venture. His developing romance with Anna, as well as a familial relationship with her son, add emotional depth to his task. As a man who hasn’t had a family to call his own in decades, he’s finally able to find one while unanchored. The happy ending brings everything home, and they’re able to sail away from bad guys and mistakes in their pasts alike.

    TV: It’s so easy to envision this as a compelling TV series. There’s endless potential for beautiful locations with sparkling turquoise Caribbean waters stretching to the horizon. The show could easily feature a variety of characters, too. There would be an ensemble cast of deckhands, plus rotating charter guests. This leads to an untapped fount of unique stories, both episodic and overall season arcs. It also opens the door to a great diversity in casting, given the Caribbean island settings.

    Key points: Caribbean locales; Possibility for a lot of characters; Setting on a yacht; Potential for unique storylines; Found family dynamic

    Synopsis

    In 1998 after being kicked off a boat he works on, SAM BERRENGER is encouraged by old friend JERRY DIAZ to buy a dilapidated yacht that’s been abandoned in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sam hasn’t lived anywhere for longer than a few months since the death of his high school girlfriend turned young wife, DARLENE, so the life of a luxury yacht captain appeals to him. In Boston, ANNA NEESON struggles to live under the strict rules of her father-in-law, whom she’s lived with since her HUSBAND died while she was pregnant at 18. Her son, IAN, studies engineering at Cornell just like his grandfather, and has only one year left before he graduates. In actuality, Ian has fled to the Caribbean to work on a boat. On the recommendation of CHARLIE, the manager of the Virgin Cay Marina, Ian seeks out Sam for a job. Sam can barely pay him, but he needs help getting the boat ready for an upcoming charter show as he has only a few months. Sam has named the yacht FIREBIRD, as that was its original name. On the island they’re anchored off, Sam has a brief run-in with GUY MONT VIOLET, or THE HAITIAN, a gangster with a stranglehold on local authorities. They meet a server, SARAH, at a local cafe, and she and Ian start dating. One night, Ian runs into his mom. He had no idea Anna was even on the island, and it was pure chance she ran into him.

    She came to look for Ian but ran into the Haitian instead. She realized he was dangerous and ran away in the night. She and Sam butt heads, but Sam lets her stay. She helps them with the yacht, and she and Sam can’t deny their mutual attraction. The trio goes off-boat to relax on a beach, and when they come back the engine is ruined. Sam suspects sabotage from the Haitian, and the cost of a new engine could ruin everything. Ian finds them a used engine for only $500. He and Sarah are growing closer, spending more time together. Meanwhile Sam and Anna finally sleep together. Sam realizes he wants Ian and Anna to stay on for his first season as a charter captain, and he didn’t expect to feel so close to them both so fast.

    The Haitian confronts Sam, demanding that he bring Anna back to him. Sam refuses and fights him off. Charlie warns Sam to be careful, as the Haitian is dangerous. Sarah tells Sam she’s moving home because she’s pregnant — not by Ian — and she doesn’t want to break his heart. She leaves a letter for Ian claiming that her father’s sick, and Sam doesn’t tell him the truth either. Sam proposes to Anna, asking her to be his wife and his first mate, and she accepts. Ian decides to finish out his degree at Cornell come January, which gives him a couple months left to help with the yacht. While on the island getting supplies, he and Sam are kidnapped by the Haitian’s men.

    They learn that Jerry Diaz, who arranged for Sam to buy the Firebird, set it all up for the Haitian as their crew needed a boat to transport illicit cargo in. Sam and Ian wake up aboard the Firebird, and they realize the Haitian and his thugs plan to blow up the yacht with them aboard. Ian subdues the Haitian’s men while Sam goes to save Anna. Sam kills the Haitian, but not before the man sets the timer on the bomb. Fortunately it only burns some of the sails. All the fixes will be cosmetic, and the Firebird is still sailable. The FBI meets them and takes the Haitian’s men and illegal cargo in, as they have everyone else in custody on Puerto Rico, including Jerry Diaz. The men were illegally selling and transporting nuclear triggers. Sam, Ian, and Anna are all over the news for being heroes, and the press makes people eager to charter the famous yacht. Sam gets Anna’s father-in-law TURLOCH’s blessing to marry her, and they agree to do it before Ian goes back to school.

    About The Author

    Bob Holt is an acclaimed story teller, raconteur, sailboat skipper, and guitar picker living with his wife and friends in the Texas Hill Country. Educated at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, the Harvard of the High Plains, he is the product of every small-town west of the Trinity River. After a twenty-five-year business career in New York City, he returned home to discover the fatted calf had prematurely died of arteriosclerosis.