Author Jennifer Silva Redmond on her adventures at sea

Jennifer Silva Redmond

by Timothy Pike

Today, I’m talking with Jennifer Silva Redmond, a Southern Californian writer who spends most days living and working on the water. Soon after she and her husband got married in the late 1980s, they moved onto his boat, set a course for waters farther south, and have since—figuratively, anyway—never looked back. In her soon-to-be-released memoir, Honeymoon at Sea, she tells the story of how she got here: a childhood she describes as “bohemian” spent in Southern California, a move to New York to pursue an acting career, then getting married and setting sail with her husband in the first big test of their new marriage.

Thanks for joining us, Jennifer. First off, why was it important to write Honeymoon at Sea?

One reason was people kept telling me to write a book about our first voyage to Baja California, because it was such an unusual thing for two newlyweds to do. I love writing memoir and I’d had some short memoir pieces published in magazines and anthologies, so it seemed inevitable that I would write a book. But I was busy working for a living, editing other people’s manuscripts and helping them to publish their books, so years went by, and the journals from our voyages were collecting dust. Then in early 2020, when everything shut down and we couldn’t go anywhere on the boat, I felt such gratitude for still being with my amazing life partner after all these years, and grateful that both of us are able to do very fulfilling work from home, and it seemed like the right time to focus on finishing the manuscript.

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What brought you to the West Coast? What do you like most about living there?

I was born in Southern California (I am a third-generation Californian on my mom’s side), but I was living in New York City in 1988 when I came home to spend Christmas with my family and saw Russel again after five years. The timing was finally right, and we got married six months later. We moved onto his twenty-six–foot sailboat three months later and took off for Mexico three months after that. I love everything West Coast—the great views, the great sailing, and the great attitude most of the coastal inhabitants have, trying to protect our beautiful coastline and ocean.

How many days out of the year are you at sea?

It varies. So far this year we were onshore for almost two full months, in late January and February and early March. We have been on the boat since then, other than a few day trips by car. Of course we are not always “at sea” even when we are aboard Watchfire, as we’ve spent about two months in marinas, and many weeks anchored in calm bays where we get to walk and explore ashore almost daily.

Do you write every day?

Not every day for the last thirty-five years, no, but I wrote something in my journal every day from November 11, 1989, to May of 1991, when we got to Florida after going through the Panama Canal. I have had many years where I wrote daily and some years where writing happened in my writers’ group or at my favorite writers’ conference or not at all. Sometimes I do get into a groove and write every day. I have done Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer the last three years, and it was quite amazing to see how that focus and commitment to getting one thousand words written every day for two weeks resulted in so much progress on this memoir and on my next book.

Boating is such a part of my life that the travel-work-life balance is second nature.

How do you balance work and boating?

Boating is such a part of my life that the travel-work-life balance is second nature. We travel quickly on the boat when we need to get somewhere, and we stop down for weeks when we need to work or want to enjoy a specific location. Russel also works from the boat (he teaches screenwriting online at a community college) so we both are always excited about traveling to remote anchorages, but also comfortable being bound by the daily needs of wifi for e-mail, texting, Zoom, and Canvas.

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at sea? The most frightening?

I was never exactly afraid, though I do have a whole chapter about the anxieties and worries that accompanied my first solo watch on the boat, on our first overnight sail. I was definitely afraid the time I saw some sharks swimming toward Russel in a small bay, especially since he was holding a bloody fish that he’d just shot with a speargun.

Funny stuff happened all the time, because Russel and I cracked each other up (and still do). We would read books out loud together and then we’d spend weeks doing voices like Bertie and Jeeves, or hobbits and orcs, or just quoting our favorite characters from Tom Robbins books.

What was the hardest part about writing Honeymoon at Sea?

Revealing things about our private life and the intimate details of our family planning journey that I have never shared in public before was pretty darn scary. I originally kind of avoided it all and then I read Russel a rough draft of the first couple of chapters and he said I needed to be more honest about what had happened to us when we’d dated before and on the Baja trip, too.

When and where can we buy the book?

Honeymoon at Sea comes out September 19, 2023, but I’d love readers to (please, please, please!) pre-order it at their favorite bookstore or online retailer right now, to help my publisher get better exposure for the book. Ordering at your local bookstore, or at, also helps us to spread the word to new buyers and readers. Think of it as an easy way to support a small woman-owned publishing house!

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Funny enough, a couple of pre-publication readers and reviewers have commented that it was a great story for a movie or a limited series. Beautiful locations, excitement, romance, drama, humor, and sex! I just got done reading the audiobook in a sound studio in Seattle, so I am not thinking any farther ahead than that coming out. As a former actress, I feel like a lot rides on my narration, and I hope people enjoy listening to it. As to who would play me, well, I guess J.Lo is a bit too old to play twenty-eight now—*laughs*—so maybe Makenzie Vega or Victoria Justice. I would definitely want her to be Mexican-American, not a typical Hollywood starlet.

What’s just around the corner for you?

I’m already hard at work on another nonfiction book, but this one is not memoir. It is a short book about editing (because I keep trimming it and cutting things out of course!) It is basically a “tips and tricks” about editing for authors, based on my twenty-five years of editing many hundreds of manuscripts and helping authors to turn them into successful, award-winning books.

As to life on the boat, this year and early next year will involve a lot of book marketing travel, by land and by sea, which should be fun. We hope to get up to British Columbia on the boat sometime in the late summer of 2024, if our work schedules—and the wind and weather—cooperate with us.

Jennifer Silva Redmond is a writer and editor from California. Her essays, articles, and fiction have been published in anthologies and magazines, and sites such as Brevity. On the staff of the Southern California Writers’ Conference and San Diego Writers, Ink, she was prose editor for A Year in Ink, Vol. 3, and co-founder of Sea of Cortez Review.

Formerly editor-in-chief of Sunbelt Publications of San Diego, Jennifer is now their editor-at-large. She is writing another book, doing book reviews, and posting about life on Substack. She lives with Russel aboard Watchfire, on the west coast of North America.

Be sure to visit Jennifer’s blog, Jenny Redbug, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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