What can you tell us about your new novel Gun Bay without spoiling the plot for readers?
Well, the climax of the story is no secret; 10 ships – 9 merchants and 1 RN frigate - foundered on the reef at the eastern end of Grand Cayman Island in 1794. It is called, to this day, "The wreck of the ten sail" so no surprises there. The story details Edward Ballantyne's arrival on board HMS Convert, the formerly French frigate that is assigned to escort the 58 ship convoy from Port Royal Jamaica to England. He sails from England in October 1793 as supernumerary in a 64 . . . and so it begins. All manner of fictitious and real events conspire to land him on the reef.
When Fortune Frowns was based on the true events following the Bounty Mutiny. As Gun Bay is a sequel is it also based around true events?
Indeed, it is. While Lt. Ballantyne and some of his shipmates are fictitious, many of the events that take place as well as, of course, the disastrous ending on the reef, are true. Gun Bay is a sequel not in the sense of "further to the Bounty story" but it is a follow on in the career of Edward Ballantyne.
In your last book "...our flag was still there" about the War of 1812 you turned to non-fiction did you find this a difficult transition?
Well, not so much difficult, per se, but a bit more challenging. I had to stick with the facts and rein in my imagination, which of course, has no place in non-fiction. There were times when I wanted to elaborate and expand on some facet of the story, but was constrained by the facts. The story of the War of 1812 is as varied and interesting as fiction in many ways and it was a pleasure to write it. That said, I think I will stick with the genre of accurate historical fiction!
Your other two series, the War of 1812 Trilogy and Oliver Baldwin are also based around the War of 1812. What is your particular interest in this conflict?
I kind of stumbled on it years ago; no one was writing about it to any extent – at least with the War as the focus of their stories. Most maritime authors were concentrating on Britain's problems with France and Spain and so if I wanted to know something about it, I had to do the research. One thing led to another and pretty soon, I was pretty well versed in the conflict.
What led you to write your first book?
A few magazine articles that found favourable reviews convinced me I might have the talent to write a book. The only thing I was really comfortable with was ships and my knowledge of the War of 1812. Of course, I quickly discovered I had SO much more research to do!
How do you undertake your research?
I first figure out what I want to use as the cornerstone of my story and then I go where I need to to find primary source information on that subject: archives, museums, libraries, and the like. I also have a huge library of source material, some of it primary in nature.
What other writing projects, if any, do you have planned?
Usually, I have the next book queued up as I finish one project. I take a month or two off to "play" – sail, travel, and let my mind refocus, and then start the research for the new project. This time, it's no different; so, yes, I have another one all set to get underway. Likely to begin in the Autumn. It will be fun to write as I hope to bring Oliver Baldwin and Edward Ballantyne together in the same book!
Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I hope you will enjoy Gun Bay as much as I enjoyed writing it. Since I live in Grand Cayman during the winter months, the events take place pretty much in my "backyard" and so hold some special significance for me. Please have a look at my website, www.seafiction.net where you will find all manner of wonderful info on my other titles, me, and the War of 1812 bicentennial, currently at its midpoint.