Couple blends love of Galveston and each other in books
Writers Joy Jones and James Nelson fell in love with Galveston and each other three years ago, and they blended those passions in their books.
In March 2015, the two retirees met through online dating. Jones wanted to find a dance partner, and so did Nelson. Neither one was looking for a serious relationship with all the headaches and complications, they said. But when Nelson picked her up at her home in La Grange for that first date, he melted, he said.
“I thought, ‘I’m in trouble,’” he said.
The date went well.
“He’s the best dancer in the world,” Jones said.
They got married in October 2015, bare-footed on the beach in Galveston.
Writing together, they now weave history into romance and spirituality in their books, they said.
This fall, they completed their latest book, tentatively titled “The Troves of Zac Love,” an epic history of a fictional Galveston family backed with research and personal insight.
Jones, a retired teacher, has written four other books. When she met Nelson, a retired engineer, she was writing “The Last Madam: A Legend of the Texas Chicken Ranch,” a historical fiction based in part on research and interviews.
Nelson, a retired engineer from Tomball, had written a collection of stories titled “Tall Tales Along Spring Creek.”
Their first joint effort was the 2017 book “Billy Love: A Pebble in the Galveston Sand.” The story is part history and part personal growth, they said.
“‘Billy Love’ is an encouraging story for seniors who are alone and single,” Jones said. “Your last years don’t have to be a solitary, lonely existence.”
Their own story shows up in the conversations Billy Love has and in the technical details about the oil industry that Nelson knew well.
The book became their life, their hobby and their passion, they said. They always talked about what Billy might do or what he might realize, Nelson said.
“We would be in the pool, and I would say, ‘What do you think about this?’” Nelson said.
In their island apartment overlooking Offatts Bayou, they worked in the same home office allowing their process to flow, they said. They research, then write. Nelson would write a section with technical details, then Jones would take it and add the narrative.
The new book explores the adventures of Zac Love, Billy Love’s grandfather who survived the 1900 Storm — a hurricane that killed thousands on the island and beyond — and interacted with many notable Galveston families. The story involves survival, a search for Jean Laffite’s treasure and a look at the island’s relatively laid-back attitudes about race and class, they said.
Jones and Nelson researched historical documents at Rosenberg Library and at the Galveston County Clerk’s office, they said. They talked to a lawyer, worked with an editor and will self-publish the new book in the coming months.
Jones dreamed of Zac Love one night in September, she said. She isn’t ready to think about the next book while this one is still part of her, she said. And she and Nelson are still spreading the word about their earlier book, “Billy Love.”
“It would be helpful to remind people we are spiritual beings having a human experience,” Jones said. “We need to wake up to that.”