CELEBRATING HISTORICAL LITERATURE & ART
Inside Stephen Coonts Eric Jay Dolin David Dyer Reviews New Releases
March / April 2016 Quarterdeck Contents A B-M J M / A 2016
5 Stephen Coonts Stephen Coonts discusses his writing career, which was launched with the publication of Flight of the Intruder. T S C 10 Eric Jay Dolan New England author Eric Jay Dolin reveals his approach Quarterdeck is published bi-monthly by to writing history and discusses his new book, Brilliant Beacons. Tall Ships Communications 6952 Cypress Bay Drive Kalamazoo, MI 49009 17 David Dyer 269-372-4673 Australian author David Dyer reveals the story behind EDITOR & MANAGING DIRECTOR his debut novel, The Midnight Watch. George D. Jepson [email protected] COLUMNS OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Amy A. Jepson [email protected] 3 Scuttlebutt News from nautical and historical fiction, naval and maritime history, maritime museums and marine art McBOOKS press Quarterdeck is distributed by 4 By George! McBooks Press, Inc. ID Booth Building The Gift 520 North Meadow Street Ithaca, NY 14850
DEPARTMENTS PUBLISHER Alexander Skutt 607-272-2114 9 Review [email protected] The Art of War by Stephen Coonts www.mcbooks.com ART DIRECTOR Panda Musgrove 16 Review [email protected] Brilliant Beacons by Eric Jay Dolin EDITORIAL DIRECTOR EMERITUS Jackie Swift 24 Review The Midnight Watch by David Dyer
31 Sea History
© Tall Ships Communications
2 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SCUTTLEBUTT
New Book Launches 2016
US (United States) UK (United Kingdom) TPB (Trade Paperback) PB (Paperback) HB (Hardback) EB (Ebook) NF (Nonfiction)
The Winds of Folly (USTPB) by Seth Hunter
Brilliant Beacons (USHB) P. T. DEUTERMANN ly promoted to Commodore of an by Eric Jay Dolin American novelist P. T. Deuter- entire destroyer squadron. mann’s previous novels about the What happens next will change MAY United States Navy in World War Wolf's life, career, and the fate of The Pride and the Anguish (USTPB) II – Pacific Glory, Ghosts of Bungo his ships forever. This epic story by Douglas Reeman Suido, and Sentinels of Fire – have of courage, disaster, survival, and been acclaimed by reviewers and triumph culminates in the pivotal Valiant Ambition (USHB) readers for their powerful drama battle of Vela Gulf. by Nathaniel Philbrick and authentic detail. Fatal Thunder (USHB In The Commodore, which will DOUGLAS REEMAN by Larry Bond be launched in August, the Navy McBooks Press will launch two in 1942-1943 is fighting a losing new trade paperback editions of JUNE battle against Japan for control of Douglas Reeman novels in its Ice Station Nautilus (USHB) the Solomon Islands. Vice Admiral Modern Naval Fiction Library this by Rick Campbell William “Bull” Halsey is tasked year. The Pride and the Anguish with changing the course of the (see page 21) will be published in Liberty’s Last Stand (USHB) war. April and A Dawn Like Thunder in by Stephen Coonts Halsey, a maverick, goes on the July. JULY offensive and appoints a host of new destroyer commanders, in- ERIC JAY DOLIN A Dawn Like Thunder (USTPB) cluding a wild-card named Har- Eric Jay Dolin, whose Brilliant Bea- by Douglas Reeman mon Wolf. An American Indian cons: A History of the American from a Minnesota reservation, Lighthouse (see page 12) will be AUGUST Wolf has never fit in with the tra- published in April, is currently The Flag of Freedom (USTPB) ditional Navy officer corps. But working on a popular narrative by Seth Hunter under Halsey, Wolf’s aggressive history of America’s pirates during tactics and gambling nature bring the Golden Age of Piracy, from The Commodore (USHB) immediate results, and he is swift- the late 1600s to the mid-1720s. By P. T. Deutermann
3 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 BY GEORGE!
N MY DESK sits an inelegant, dark-brown brick, with a O chip on one corner. The re- cent addition to the mementos in my study came to me as a complete sur- prise. On a snow-blown Sunday morning in December, Amy and I sat in the stands at our local ice arena watching our eleven-year-old grandson, Nick, skate for his hockey team. As the fi- nal horn blew, signaling the end of the game, a couple approached us. Mike and Natalie Mason, parents of Nick’s teammate, Sean, handed me a weighty Christmas gift bag. Inside, wrapped in red-and-green tissue, was the brick. A strange gift, you might say, but it immediately tugged at my heart try. strings. It represented my boyhood “rock,” the Landmark Books, an imprint of Random school for which I have had an abiding affection House featuring stories about American heroes since a September morning in 1951. and institutions, were favorites. I read about Entering the second grade that autumn, just George Washington, Ben Franklin, John Paul shy of my seventh birthday, I embarked on an Jones, the Erie Canal, the Pony Express, Old eight-year journey at Milwood. Dedicated teach- Ironsides, the U.S. Naval Academy and West ers, with at least one who ruled with tough love Point, and much, much more. These books and an ever-ready ping pong paddle, taught us made history fun. reading, writing and arithmetic and, most im- Independent book dealer Dan Glaeser in portantly for me, United States history, a subject Modesto, California, says, “Landmark Books are which seems to be sorely lacking in early educa- perhaps the most sought after out-of-print chil- tion today. dren’s books by home schooling families. Writ- Each morning we recited the Pledge of Alle- ten in a novelistic style, these biographies and giance, standing smartly before Old Glory. histories are geared for mid-range readers in from The emphasis placed on American history in my the third to sixth grade. I am currently trying to classes ignited flames that still burn within me. I read the entire series and enjoying them im- became a regular in the school library, where I mensely.” found books that related the story of our coun- CONTINUED ON PAGE 33
4 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 INTERVIEW STEPHEN COONTS
TEPHEN COONTS BURST onto the fiction scene in 1986 with the launch of Flight of the Intruder, S which spent twenty-eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Three decades later, the book, which introduced young Navy Lieutenant Jake Grafton, remains in print and recently has been released in a new paperback edition by St. Martin’s Press. Flight of the Intruder launched Coonts’ writing career like an A-6 Intruder catapulting off the deck of an air- craft carrier. In eighteen novels to date, Coonts chroni- cles Grafton’s career from a young carrier pilot during the Vietnam conflict to a retired two-star admiral serv- ing with the CIA. Along the way, Coonts created an engaging new character in Tommy Carmellini, who first appeared with Grafton in Cuba, and eventually spun off into his own series. In his latest novel, The Art of War (see review on page 9), Grafton and Carmellini face a treacherous plot to
cripple America’s naval Photo by Deborah Jean Coonts. capabilities. Stephen Coonts Besides the Grafton and Carmellini series, Coonts co-authored The author discusses his writing career in this inter- The Deep Black series view with Quarterdeck: about a covert CIA team that battles bad What was the spark that ignited your passion for flying? guys around the world. Did you always have your sights set on naval aviation? A science fiction series features tales of flying Reading Fate Is the Hunter by Ernest K. Gann con- saucers. vinced me that flying would be a great adventure. The He has also written Navy offered a program that would allow me to com- several other works, including Cannibal Queen, his plete Aviation Officers Candidate School while in col- first venture into non-fiction, detailing his cross-country lege (the program is long gone) and guaranteed to send flight in a 1942 Stearman open cockpit bi-plane with me to flight school when I got my degree. So I joined his fourteen-year-old son. the Naval Reserve while I was a sophomore in college.
Were you surprised at the over- whelming success the novel generat- ed?
Not surprised, flabbergasted. Amazed. Stunned.
Was Jake Grafton, your now well- known protagonist in Flight of the Intruder and in subsequent novels, including The Art of War, based on any one in particular from your ex- perience in the Navy?
In the twentieth anniversary edition No. He was a character I created to writing the book that became Final of Flight of the Intruder, you wrote tell Flight of the Intruder, and as Flight. in the preface that the idea for the such was an amalgam of all the guys novel “occurred to me while I was I knew in naval aviation. Once you set a course to write full flying A-6 Intruder attack jets from time, did you find it difficult to the flight deck of the USS Enter- At what point after Flight of the In- come up with new story ideas? prise.” Was this the first time you truder was launched did you decide had considered writing fiction? The difficulty is not dreaming them up, it’s getting New York Essentially, yes. I quickly “. . . I scribbled at flying scenes publishing editors excited found I didn’t have the craft, about them. They want you to nor a plot. So I scribbled at for ten years, and finally do the same book that just sold flying scenes for ten years, and thought up a plot for well with different characters finally thought up a plot for and a different setting, but the my flying story. After a divorce my flying story.” same plot, essentially the same in 1984, I found I had the time dynamic that Hollywood pro- and no money, so I got seriously to write full-time? Had you started ducers face. Recycle the plot. It’s into my story. a second novel? enough to make you tear your hair out, and I don’t have much left. Once the idea took hold, how long The out-of-the-ballpark success of did it take to complete the Flight of Flight of the Intruder raised the pos- Tommy Carmellini initially ap- the Intruder manuscript? Did you sibility that maybe I could write for peared in the Jake Grafton novels have any difficulty in finding a pub- a living. My oil company employer beginning with Cuba. Why did you lisher? was on the skids, and I was going to spin him off into his own series? have to do something to earn a liv- I had a manuscript in about six ing. So when they laid me off, with I felt like I needed a new, young, months writing nights and week- all 2,200 other employees, I took hip hero, and I wanted to try first- ends. It was rejected by thirty-two my severance pay and started person narration, so Tommy was a
6 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 packager who invented the co-au- thored novel for Tom Clancy. The publishers wanted more than one book a year, and that was the only feasible way. It’s a very popular for- mat now. Clive Cussler has three or four co-writers, and James Patterson has turned writing fiction into a cottage industry of scribblers pro- ducing six books a year.
Once started on a novel, do you review a previous day’s work and re-write? Do you write a certain number of words per day? Is there generally more than one complete draft?
I am not sure how I do this, either. I write scenes, with the goal of one a day. Some days I am lucky to do a paragraph; on rare occasions I get a natural counterpoint to Jake whole chapter. Getting started is Well, I owned ten tons of books Grafton. I tried out the new formu- the difficult part. I have written as until the last move, when common la in Liars and Thieves, and thought many as five beginnings for the sense (and my wife) finally agreed it worked rather well. same novel, trying to get it right. enough was enough. Liberty’s Last Stand, due out on What was the genesis of the Please describe where you Saucer novels? write? “Some days I am lucky to do a I needed a break from thrillers, paragraph; on rare occasions I At my desk in my office. Big and liked the idea of taking book shelf, overloaded, and you, the reader, flying in a fly- get a whole chapter. Getting two deer and two antelope ing saucer. What would it be started is the difficult part.” heads. Windows. A little patio like? Who would the charac- beside it to smoke a cigar while ters be? What is the plot? I had contemplating my literary sins a lot of fun with all three books. June 13, had three beginnings and and my toes. two endings before the publisher The Deep Black series is written and I were satisfied. What has been the greatest influ- with co-authors Jim DeFelice and ence in your writing career? William H. Keith. How does the How do you research your novels? collaboration work? Fighting the war on poverty. I make On the Internet, if possible. Asking my living doing this, and like We did nine books, and that was questions of experts, if necessary. Churchill, am always satisfied with enough. I am still not sure exactly the best. So my wife tells me, how we did it. I worked with the Do you maintain a reference li- “Write faster.” late Martin H. Greenberg, the book brary?
7 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 the Intruder in my hands, with my name on the dust jacket, did it for me. I was hooked. I decided then and there that I would do this as long as I could make enough money to eat. So far, so good.
Name three historic figures, living or dead, with whom you would en- joy chatting over dinner.
George Washington, Abraham Lin- coln and U.S. Grant. And Jesus, if he could spare the time.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Reading fiction is the way we live Do you re-read your novels? Do adventures that won’t fit into our come out only at night to eat dogs you have a favorite title? lives. Books allow you to swing and children. In fiction, anything is through the jungle with Tarzan, possible. I feel sorry for people who Occasionally. Not often. I know float down the Mississippi with tell me they don’t read fiction. how they end. As for my favorite, Huck Finn, fly jet fighters with Jake They are missing entire worlds. it’s always the next one. Right now Grafton, fight sea battles on wood- Fiction is the most personal of that is Liberty’s Last Stand, out on en ships in the age of sail, fly space- the art forms. It is the only art June 13, 2016. ships between the stars, solve form that takes place between your ears and nowhere else. You What’s next for Jake Grafton read the words and see the and Tommy Carmellini? “Holding the first copy of Flight characters, the scene and the of the Intruder in my hands, action. The story is merely ink They save the nation in Liber- symbols on paper or symbols ty’s Last Stand, which may well with my name on the dust jack- on a computer screen, and they be the most politically incor- et, did it for me. I was hooked.” stimulate your brain. A writer rect book of the twenty-first writes not for theater audiences century. I found out that mak- or to create something for a ing good action-adventure out of mysteries with Hercule Poirot and museum, but just for you in a one- politics is a rough road to drive, Chief Superintendent Maigret, out- on-one relationship, trying to stim- which is probably why so few writ- shoot the bad guys on a dusty west- ulate your imagination with those ers try it. ern street, and (for those so little symbols. Kinda cool, isn’t it? inclined) have fantastic romances When you look back over your ca- with rich, hunky men, all without reer, is there one moment that leaving your armchair. You can do Visit Stephen Coonts online stands out as having been particu- S&M, save the planet from aliens or at: www.coonts.com or on larly exhilarating? evil politicians, be an alien or evil Facebook. politician, or fight to the death with Holding the first copy of Flight of creatures that live in the sewers and
8 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 REVIEW
THE CHINESE DRAGON
by George Jepson
HE CHINESE DRAGON is al race against a ticking clock, as a flexing its muscles in the weapon of mass destruction lays T South China Sea, alarming hidden. While Grafton and Car- American allies, while quietly mellini work feverishly to solve a launching a sinister operation murder mystery, they have no idea against the United States. that a catastrophic event of unbe- As usual, Stephen Coonts’ fiction lievable magnitude is fast approach- does not stray far from reality. It’s ing. no secret that China seeks to stiffen Whose fingerprints are on the its territorial claims by constructing killings and the downing of the islands in waters far off its own president’s plane? Russia? China? It coast, including areas claimed by makes little sense, but when Car- Vietnam and the Philippines. mellini connects with a Russian The Art of War is Coonts’ latest contact in Zurich, Grafton senses thriller featuring retired U.S. Navy the real possibility of a nuclear two-star Admiral Jake Grafton, and threat. CIA operative Tommy Carmellini. A cold-blooded killer is on the When the director of the CIA is loose. Two seemingly innocent assassinated early on a Saturday THE ART OF WAR Chinese men spend their days fish- morning at his cottage on the East- St. Martin’s Press, $27.99, ing from a small boat within sight ern Shore of Maryland, the presi- U.S. Hardback / of Naval Base Norfolk and the ship- $14.99, Kindle and NOOK dent appoints Grafton interim yard at Newport News. High rank- director. ing Chinese officials in Beijing Two more high-level murders aircraft carriers are scheduled to observe everything from afar. and the crash of Air Force One have make a port call over the Christmas In Washington, Jake and Tom- official Washington spinning. Graf- holiday. It’s an opportunity for an- my connect the dots, while some- ton is uncertain who to trust, other other Pearl Harbor, crippling Amer- one within the government clearly than Carmellini. Precautions to ica’s naval capabilities. wants the investigation to fail, sacri- protect the new interim director If all goes well, China will be able ficing the lives of millions. and his wife, Callie, are taken, with to deny involvement by creating the Once again, Stephen Coonts as- the motive behind the killings any- illusion that a tragic accident caused serts his mastery of the thriller thing but clear. the blast aboard a U.S. Ship, assur- genre, with lively page-turning Meanwhile, Chinese agents im- ing that America will never be the prose, punctuated with shocking bed a nuclear bomb near the U.S. same again. twists and turns, that are certain to Naval base at Norfolk, with the Coonts is at his riveting best, in- keep reading lights burning late in- knowledge that five Atlantic Fleet volving the reader in an internation- to the night.
9 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 INTERVIEW Credit: Kimberly Drooks Photography Massachusetts-based author Eric Jay Dolin ERIC JAY DOLIN by George Jepson
, E J D has written three significant works of American history – Leviathan: The I History of Whaling in America; Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America; and When America First met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail. In April, Dolin’s latest work, Brilliant Beacons: A History of the American Lighthouse (see review on page 11) will be published by Liveright Publishing (an imprint of W. W. Norton). The award-winning author, who lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts, with his wife and children, discusses the winding road to his writing career, as well as the story behind Brilliant Beacons, in this interview with Quarterdeck:
You studied biology and marine ecology at Brown University.
10 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 What sparked your interest in policy issues and the American history? testing of hypotheses related to how the courts I have always loved stories about the and the government past, especially early sea voyages and worked or didn’t work. the travels of explorers. However, About that time, in the my main interest throughout mid-1990s, I started school, and for most of my career, writing books that was marine biology and the focused on history, environment. Besides my science while at the same time degree from college, I have a working full-time. In master’s degree in environmental 2007, I quit my day management from the Yale School job and became a full- of Forestry and Environmental time writer of history Studies, and a PhD in environ- books, which I mental policy from MIT. I have couldn’t have done also held a variety of environ- without the mentally-related jobs, including unreserved support stints as a fisheries policy analyst at of my wife and the National Marine Fisheries family. Service, a program manager at the That’s a long way U.S. Environmental Protection of saying that there Agency, an environmental is no one thing that consultant stateside and in London, sparked my interest in history. focused on history one way or an American Association for the Instead, slowly over time, I realized another. My earlier books ranged Advancement of Science from the Smithsonian Book of writing fellow at Business Week, National Wildlife Refuges and a curatorial assistant in the The Duck Stamp Story: Art- Mollusk Department at “Leviathan was my first history Conservation-History, to a book Harvard’s Museum of book with a major publisher, that has a ridiculously long Comparative Zoology, and an but before it came out I had subtitle: Political Waters: The intern at the National Wildlife Long, Dirty, Contentious, Federation, the Massachusetts written eight books . . .” Incredibly Expensive but Office of Coastal Zone Eventually Triumphant History Management, and in the U.S. of Boston Harbor – A Unique Senate. that history, especially American Environmental Success Story. By the Throughout my educational and history, is the topic that fascinated way, that subtitle was the editor’s professional career, one thing me the most. idea. remained constant – I enjoyed writing and telling stories. While Was Leviathan: The History of What drew you to maritime-related working on my dissertation (on the Whaling in America your first foray historical topics in your recent role of the judiciary in cleaning up into writing history? books, from Leviathan to Brilliant Boston Harbor), I realized I had the Beacons: A History of the American most fun researching and writing Leviathan (2007) was my first Lighthouse? about the long history of the history book with a major degradation and cleanup of Boston publisher, but before it came out I My interest in maritime history is a Harbor. I was less interested in the had written eight books, all which direct outgrowth of my love for the
11 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 ocean. I grew up near the coasts of New York and Connecticut, and since an early age, the natural world fascinated me, especially the saltier realms. I spent many days wandering the beaches on the edge of Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, collecting seashells and exploring tide pools. When I left for college I wanted to become a marine biologist or, more specifically, a malacologist (seashell scientist). At college I quickly realized that although I loved learning about science, I wasn’t cut out for a career in science, mainly because I wasn’t very good in the lab, and I didn’t particularly enjoy Boston Light engraving, circa 1729, from Brilliant Beacons reading or writing scientific research papers. So, I shifted course to study painting and wondered what it was nothing about lighthouses. So, I environmental policy. However, my like actually to go whaling. I went off for about a month, read a love of the ocean remained, and thought it would great fun to write bunch of books on lighthouses, and that, more than anything else, is a book on whaling, and it was. fell in love with the history; then, I what pointed me in the direction of For the lighthouse book, the submitted a brief proposal, and the maritime history. inspiration was different from that book was born. Although I prefer I came up with the idea for for my other books. It wasn’t my coming up with my own ideas, I am Leviathan just after my family idea. I was casting around for a very thankful that my editor and moved from a suburb of the head of sales gave me this Washington D.C. to gift. Marblehead, Massachusetts. I “I got the idea for Leviathan had recently finished my book from a large, oval box in my Do you consider yourself a on Boston Harbor, and I historian or writer first? wanted to write another book house, which is painted with a that had something to do with . . . powerful whaling scene.” Even though many people refer the ocean, especially since I was to me as a historian, and I have now living in a coastal town won a few history book prizes, with a wonderful maritime history. book topic, and had submitted a I sometimes have a tough time I got the idea for Leviathan from a few to my editor at Liveright (an calling myself a historian, since I large, oval box in my house, which imprint of W. W. Norton), but he usually associate that word with is painted with a primitive, wasn’t particularly enamored with people who have a Ph.D. in history powerful whaling scene. The image any of them. While I was (and, of course, more than a few shows a whaleship with its sails generating more ideas, my editor Ph.D. historians would no doubt unfurled, three whaleboats filled and the head of sales and marketing also find it difficult to call me a with men, and two whales who for Norton asked me if I would be historian, as some of them have told appear to be unnaturally buoyant, interested in writing a book on the me over the years). However, in the seemingly floating on top of the history of American lighthouses. I broader sense of someone who waves. Many times, I gazed at that wasn’t sure, since I knew almost writes about history, then, of
12 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 course, I am a historian. Still, I up reading a lot that is not time to devote to writing. think of myself more as a storyteller particularly useful in the end. Other Sometimes, my writing really and a writer who happens to love than that, my approach to research flows, and I can pump out a lot of telling stories about history. has stayed pretty much the same. I pages, but other times I struggle still try to read the classics or over a few sentences or paragraphs. How did you research Brilliant seminal works in an area first, then I do, however, try to end each day Beacons? How much time elapsed branch off from there, always on of writing with a good idea of where from the project’s onset and writing the lookout for interesting and I am heading, and I even like to the first words? unusual stories. have some rough notes or guides that make the first few sentence of I work on books iteratively, Do you have a regular writing the following day not that difficult researching then writing, then routine? Are you a rapid writer? to envision. That way, I can start researching again and writing, until work the next day with some I finish the book. I begin with I don’t think I am a fast writer, but momentum, feeling good. chapter one (the intro always comes I am not a slow writer, either. I All I said above applies to my last), and then keep on going until guess that I am average, although I writing life since 2007, when I the last chapter, doing each one don’t say that with much became a full-time writer. Before sequentially. It is not completely conviction since I know very little that, I always had a full-time job, linear, however, and I often go back about how fast or slow other people and had to fit in writing when I and forth, adding to or cutting could. Most often this meant from chapters for which I waking up at three or four in already have a rough draft. For “I work on books iteratively, re- the morning, and writing Brilliant Beacons, I began searching then writing, re- before going to work, and then writing the first chapter about writing again at night, and six months after I signed the searching again and writing, during the one day of the book contract. A little less than until I finish the book.” weekend my wife gave me to a year later, I finished the do nothing but write. When I manuscript to the point that it was with the government, I was ready to be sent to reviewers. In write. As for a writing routine, the used flex-time, working longer days other words, it took me about only constants are that I listen to so that I could take off one day eighteen months to research and classical music and do almost all my every two weeks to write, and not write the book. writing in my home office – I never lose pay. And for a short stretch, I have been able to write at a library had a very supportive boss who let Has your approach to research or a coffee shop. I try to write every me take one day a week off without changed since you began writing? day during the week, and usually pay to write, but that ended when part of the weekend. Some days, I the head of the agency found out I have tried to become more work for long stretches, and other about it. selective. With all my books, since days, I work in shorter bursts. Every they cover so many years and so weekday during the school year, I Was it difficult finding your writing much history, the biggest potential am on kid duty, picking them up at voice? Has it evolved from book to problem is being overwhelmed with school or shuttling them to book? sources. The greatest difficulty, activities, although this will soon therefore, is figuring out what I end, with my daughter having I know this is not a particularly need to read to tell the story I want begun college this year, and my son good answer, but I have no idea to tell. With practice, I have gotten having only a bit more than two where my writing voice came from, better at deciding what to read, and years until he too leaves home. So, or exactly what it is. I write the way what to ignore. However, I still end in the near future, I will have more I speak, and many people have said
13 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 book, but I know that the crafting sentences, or organizing my fluidity and quality of my thoughts. And I also like the prose has improved over surprises along the way, whether it time. However, I still have is an exciting quote, or a a long way to go. particularly good story. I find writing more difficult, although I Do you have others read enjoy it too, especially when I get to your manuscript draft as the point that I really like what I your work progresses? have written, and it reads smoothly. That’s a great feeling. My wife, Jennifer, is my first reader, and she Do you have a personal research reads each chapter when library? Does it grow with each I have a complete rough succeeding project? draft. For some of my earlier books, I sent Since I almost always pick book chapters to my dad, topics about which I know very but he is no longer little, I have to do a lot of research capable of being a just to get the point that I am reviewer. Once I finish comfortable telling the story. To the entire manuscript, help me get to that point, I typically I send it out to a small create my own personal research group of people (usually three library, which usually is between to five) who are knowledgeable forty and eighty books, which are my writing has a conversational about the topic. I also typically ask all related to the book’s topic. Many tone. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit my mother-in-law, and sometimes a of the books are out-of-print, and I this, but the last English class I order them on-line or buy took was in high school, and I them at used bookstores; others have never taken a writing I buy new. I keep these books class. My writing skills, such as “Since I almost always pick in my office, and refer to them they are, were built up over book topics about which I know often. Of course, I also take years of doing research papers, very little, I have to do many books out of area and writing a lot of articles for libraries, and I make great use newspapers and magazines, a lot of research . . .” of Google books and the both at the schools I attended, HathiTrust to read digitized and for outside publications. If friend or two, to take a look. Once versions of old books. I had to do it all over again, I would I incorporate comments from these There are a lot of books in my have taken more English classes, reviewers, I submit the manuscript house and not a lot of space. So, and a few on writing. In the end, to my publisher. when I am done with a book, I however, forging ahead and writing donate most of my research library articles and books, getting feedback Which do you enjoy more, research if I can, only holding onto the from reviewers and good editors, or writing? books that are classics or the ones I and critically looking at my own enjoyed the most and might want work are the elements that have Usually research, because I enjoy to refer to again one day. For helped me develop as a writer. I’m tracking down sources, learning Leviathan, and Fur, Fortune, and not sure my fundamental voice has about the topic, and just taking Empire, for example, I was able to changed that much from book to notes without the pressure of donate most of my whaling and fur
14 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 trade books to the Massachusetts if you had asked me when I was ten Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Historical Society, where many years old what I wanted to be when Lessons from the Crematory by people can benefit from them. I grew up I would have said an Caitlin Doughty. ocean explorer like Cousteau. Are you able to set a manuscript Who are writers you most admire? aside while you’re working on it or Do you read only books or articles is it always in your subconscious? that are relevant to your research? I admire virtually all writers, Do you read fiction? because I think it takes a fair bit of I can set it aside, for example, if I go courage and determination to write on vacation or have to do another, Since I pick topics I am unfamiliar and put your work out there for shorter project, but even while I am with, out of necessity, most of my anyone to read, but some of the not physically working on the book reading is related to what I am writers I particularly admire are – researching or writing – I will working on at the moment, so that Samuel Eliot Morison, Erik Larson, often think about it. Sometimes, I can learn what I need to know. Robert Carse and David while musing, I will come up with a One pleasant exception is when McCullough. good idea or sentence that will people send me books to blurb; cause me to rush to get a pen and almost all these are histories. I also What do you plan to read next? paper to write it down. read books for pleasure, mainly nonfiction, but not nearly as often Captain Kidd and the War Against Why did you settle your family the Pirates, by Robert Ritchie. in Marblehead? “I admire virtually all writers Are there books in your library Jenn grew up here, her parents . . . it takes a fair bit of courage that you find yourself returning are still in the area, and we love to again and again? it here. Even when we moved and determination to . . . put to D.C., then Maryland, after I your work out there . . . ” Morison’s The Maritime got my doctorate, we always History of Massachusetts; knew we would end up in America and The Sea: A Marblehead. And this is where we as I would like. Although I enjoy Maritime History by Benjamin W. will stay. My two kids love it as fiction, I rarely get a chance to read Labaree et al; and Oxford’s Atlas of well. it. I realize that is probably not a the World and Atlas of World great thing to admit when being History. What sort of reader were you as a profiled in a publication devoted to boy? Are there childhood books and historical fiction, but it’s true. Who Name three historic figures, living authors that have remained with knows, maybe someday, I will start or dead, whom you would enjoy you over the years? reading more fiction, and maybe chatting with over dinner. even write a book of historical I wasn’t much of a reader, and fiction myself. Samuel Eliot Morison (I would ask when I did read for fun I read him how he knew so much, and comics and books and articles about What is the last book that you read could write so fast, so well); marine biology, shells, sharks and for enjoyment? Theodore Roosevelt; and Rachel other ocean creatures. One of my favorite books was The Kingdom of The last two were Far From the the Seashell by R. Tucker Abbott. I Tree: Parents, Children and the Visit Eric Jay Dolin online at: also remember greatly enjoying Search for Identity by Andrew ericjaydolin.com many of Jacques Cousteau’s books, Solomon and, in a lighter vein, including The Silent World. In fact,
15 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 REVIEW
AMERICA’S MARITIME ICONS
by George Jepson
IGHTHOUSES ALONG America’s events that surrounded each light. saltwater and Great Lakes coasts During the American Revolution, L have warned mariners about War of 1812 and Civil War, lights be- hidden dangers close to shore since the came the targets of belligerents on both first Boston Light was raised on Little sides as a means of affecting navigation. Brewster Island at the entrance to Bos- Destruction of lights was done without ton Harbor in 1716. regard for the toll that might be taken Early seafarers learned that the closer on the lives of mariners. to shore, the greater that the danger Lighthouse keepers – both men and was, as they sailed the seven seas and women – were primarily charged with America’s Sweetwater Seas. Rocky maintaining the beacons and assuring shoals, sandbars, shallows and ship- that they were in working order and lit. wrecks lurked beneath the water’s sur- This was an arduous and often risky face, while fog, smoke from forest fires venture, especially during inclement and stormy weather reduced visibility. weather. Until Boston Light was erected, Lighthouse keepers often became there were no formal navigation aids in heroes. In September 1858, for in- the British colonies that would become stance, 15-year-old Ida Lewis was per- the United States. Ship masters had forming the keeper’s duties at Lime only their experience, untrustworthy Rock Lighthouse off Newport, Rhode BRILLIANT BEACONS charts and intuition on which to rely as Island, for her father, who was crippled Liveright Publishing, $29.95, their vessels approached land. from a stroke. Spying four boys on the U.S. Hardback / In Brilliant Beacons: A History of $14.16, Kindle / $14.99, NOOK verge of drowning when their sailboat American Lighthouses, author Eric Jay overturned in rough seas, she rowed to Dolin chronicles the evolution of the minded groups raise funds to save, and their rescue in her small skiff. maritime icons. These unique struc- rehabilitate, the lights which are on the Brilliant Beacons is chock full of tures served sailors well into the twenti- verge of succumbing to the harsh ele- compelling stories, chronicling early eth century. ments to which they have been exposed efforts to fund and construct lighthous- Although lighthouses have largely over decades. es across America, wartime raids, and been replaced by the Global Position- Dolin’s narrative relates the develop- the eventual organization of the United ing System (GPS), they remain ment of America’s picturesque coastal States Lighthouse Service. “among the most beloved and romanti- beacons to young America’s evolution Sifting through old newspapers, cized structures in the American land- from colonial times to independence lighthouse logs, journals and other ar- scape,” says Dolin. “It is not difficult and beyond, providing a pleasurable chival material, Eric Dolin has com- to find evidence of their hold on the and captivating history lesson. piled a shining account of America’s public’s imagination.” Through extensive and detailed re- life-saving beacons. Whether you are a Even as they have become obsolete search, Dolin dug up nuggets of histor- lighthouse buff or a student of Ameri- in the face of new technology, millions ical detail behind the very human can history, this remarkable volume is visit lighthouses every year. Civic stories created by the men, women and to be savored again and again.
16 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 INTERVIEW by David Dyer. The Midnight Watch Detail from cover art for DAVID DYER by George Jepson
USTRALIAN NOVELIST DAVID DYER’S passion for the star-crossed liner RMS Titanic dates A back to his boyhood in Shellharbour, a small coastal town New South Wales. The saga of the majestic ship and her tragic demise in the North Atlantic on April 14, 1912, has pulled Dyer to various Titanic-related locations around the world in search of the facts and documentation encompassing the great drama performed at sea. Dyer’s professional career – as an officer – in the Aus- tralian merchant navy and as a litigation lawyer in the firm that represented the Titanic’s owners after the di- saster has given him a rare insight into the ship’s brief history, which still resonates a century later. On April 5, St. Martin’s Press will launch Dyer’s de- but novel, The Midnight Watch (see review on page 19). Australian novelist David Dyer The plot approaches the Titanic disaster from the per- spective of officers aboard the SS Californian, who ob-
17 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 PD-US – published in the US before and1923 public domain in the US. RMS Titanic departing South Hampton on April 10, 1912 served Titanic’s distress rockets, but sive propellers rear slowly out of the trigued by the human aspects of the did not respond. water is one of the most dramatic in Titanic’s story. It seemed to me that Dyer shares the story behind The all of cinema. That image says to history and fate had conspired to Midnight Watch and his life-long me: the people on this ship are in put together all the elements of a fascination with the ship in this in- deep trouble! great drama: the largest ship in the terview: Throughout my childhood I world on her maiden voyage, a pas- drew pictures of the ship, wrote sto- senger list of the rich and famous, a What originally sparked your inter- ries about it and made models of it. silent iceberg ready and waiting to est in the events surrounding punish hubris. The sea was a the Titanic tragedy? flat calm, like a giant stage, and “In London I visited the same the brilliantly-lit Titanic sank When I was a young child, per- docks in Woolwich from which slowly, allowing time for tests, haps four or five years old, I dramas and moral dilemmas to watched the classic Titanic film the Californian departed on be played out on her decks. A Night to Remember on televi- Good Friday, 1912 . . .” These are the features of the sion at my grandmother’s story that everyone knows: the house. I was hooked. That ship’s musicians showing their ship! Its four tall funnels, slender I would sink toy ships in bathtubs courage by playing until the very hull and luxurious interiors fascinat- and swimming pools, with my pet end, the cowardly chairman of the ed me. I was enthralled too by the mice acting as passengers. (They line sneaking into a lifeboat, John way the ship sank – the water inex- were always safely rescued in the Jacob Astor bidding farewell to his orably filling one watertight com- end.) I tilted my bed by placing pregnant wife, the elderly Mrs partment and then the next, the books under one side so that I Straus standing back with her hus- bow settling inch by inch into a could fall asleep imagining I was on band rather than saving herself. black and calm sea. I still think the the sinking liner. But what is less well known is scene where the Titanic’s three mas- As I grew older, I became in- that this piece of mid-Atlantic high
18 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 PD-US – published in the US before and1923 public domain in the US. The SS Californian was within site of RMS Titanic, as the liner slowly sank on April 14, 1912.
theatre did in fact have an audience. unsurprisingly, Titanic’s Disaster. In Lusitania. Then the Empress of Ire- The Titanic was being watched, subsequent years at school I wrote land disaster. And then plane crash- very carefully and thoughtfully, by other pieces about the Titanic – in es. the officers of a nearby ship. They fact, that’s all I wrote about. In one could not hear the Titanic’s desper- notable case, I submitted a Geogra- Was The Midnight Watch your first ate radio messages – their own wire- phy assignment on ‘The Tundra,’ attempt at writing fiction? less operator was asleep – but they which gave one page of superficial could see her distress rockets clearly information about tundra land- The Midnight Watch was my first enough. Eight rockets were serious attempt at writing fic- fired and seen, but nothing was tion for publication. I had writ- done. Why? What happened “Eventually, I was banned alto- ten some pieces during my on that ship that night? gether from writing about the English studies at university in It was this puzzle that, in Sydney, and had attended recent years, I set out to solve. Titanic. So, of course, I turned some creative writing work- to the Lusitania . . .” shops during my years in Lon- What had you written prior to don, but nothing much came The Midnight Watch? of it. The workshops were not scapes in arctic regions, and then always useful. I found they often Over the course of my life I have pointed out that arctic regions also drifted on aimlessly while people written many academic articles and produced icebergs! There then fol- recited poems about sitting in dark essays – and hundreds of legal ad- lowed a twenty page appendix de- rooms with upturned bottles of vices – but The Midnight Watch is scribing in dramatic detail what an vodka, or read stories about seedy my first novel. Or, to put it more iceberg did to the Titanic. encounters in supermarket car accurately, my first published novel, Eventually, I was banned alto- parks. I began several pieces, but because while in grade four I did gether from writing about the Ti- never finished them. Demands of write a six-page “novel” entitled, tanic. So, of course, I turned to the work and everyday living took up
19 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 too much energy. I later realized many books and much of the tran- White Star offices, and I imagined that to write – to really write – I script of the American and British Philip Franklin, vice president of would need very deliberately to inquiries, but I knew I needed to do the line, standing on its steps to an- carve out the time and space to do more. To achieve what Australian nounce to the world that the it. author Kristel Thornell calls “narra- mighty Titanic had sunk. tive telepathy” with Captain Lord, In all of these places I visited li- Your interest in the Titanic tragedy Herbert Stone and the other histori- braries and searched newspaper ar- covered many years. At what point cal figures of the story, I had to go chives, and slowly, surely I began to did you decide to write your novel? where they had gone, and see what arrive at the truth. they had seen. In London I visited Finally, and perhaps most impor- In the late 1990s, while working at the same docks in Woolwich from tantly of all, I traveled to the Titan- the London legal practice Hill Tay- which the Californian departed on ic wreck site itself on the Fred lor Dickinson (whose parent firm, Good Friday, 1912; in Liverpool, I Olsen liner Balmoral. At 2:20 AM coincidentally, represented the Ti- walked the streets that Captain on 15 April 2012, one hundred tanic’s owners back in 1912), I be- Lord and Herbert Stone had walked years to the minute after the Titanic gan to develop an interest in “the and visited the addresses where they sank, I stared over the side of our Californian incident,” the story of had lived. Some buildings from ship into the water. The wreck was the ship that saw the Titanic’s dis- 1912 still remained, including the directly beneath me, and the sea tress rockets, but did not go to the pretty clubhouse of the Wallasey was as calm as it had been on the rescue. This interest quickly night of the disaster. The water became an obsession, and the was black and cold, it was at more I researched, the more “My decision to write a book that moment that I truly un- puzzled I became. Herbert about the Californian affair was derstood what was at stake in Stone, the officer on the Cali- the Californian’s story. Fifteen fornian’s bridge who saw the the beginning, not the end, of a hundred people froze to death rockets, was reliable, diligent very long research journey.” in this water, including more and sober. Captain Lord, who than fifty children. It must was woken by Stone and told have been terrifying. And they about the rockets, was a young and Golf Club, of which Lord was a all died within sight of the lights of capable commander, one of his member (but “only for the game,” the Californian, tantalizingly close. company’s very best. So why did he once said, “not its social side”). I At the end of all this research I they do nothing? Eventually I dis- wondered what it had been like for had a mountain of material. How covered that the story of the Cali- Lord to play golf with men who to arrange it all? How to thread it fornian was one of complex knew what the American and Brit- through with a coherent and com- psychologies, tragic errors and terri- ish inquiries had said about him: pelling narrative? In the end my ble guilt. that he could have saved everyone solution was to invent a narrator to who died on the Titanic. How act as my proxy in the novel: a Once you decided to write The could he have lived with the shame newspaper man who encounters the Midnight Watch, how did you pro- and guilt of it all? Californian’s men in Boston and ceed to develop your storyline? Was In Boston I took a tour of the knows that something strange lurks additional research required beyond harbor and saw the wharves where behind their blank faces. This al- what you already knew? Captain Lord’s ship arrived only lowed me to structure my material days after the Titanic had sunk, and as a detective story in which, as Ian My decision to write a book about where he and his men faced the in- McEwan puts it in one of my favor- the Californian affair was the begin- quisitive Boston press. In New ite novels (Atonement), “like police- ning, not the end, of a very long York, I visited the building at No. 9 men in a search team, we go on research journey. I had already read Broadway, which once housed the hands and knees and crawl toward
20 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 the truth.” in detail. It was only when I learned Did you rewrite sections of your the difficult art of leaving things out manuscript as your work proceed- Do you consider yourself a historian – and freeing myself from the facts ed? or writer first? – that I found an effective writing voice. Yes. Absolutely. Almost every sen- I consider myself a writer first, I I also learned another important tence of The Midnight Watch has guess. I have a doctorate in the cre- lesson: have faith in your reader. been revised and rewritten. And ative arts, but no formal academic You don’t have to spell everything some large parts of early drafts have training in history. It would be out. Readers are clever: they can been thrown out altogether. Sir Ar- wrong to call myself a historian, deduce things for themselves and thur Quiller-Couch famously ad- although I do know quite a bit reach their own conclusions. They vised authors to “murder their about the Titanic. soon tire of an author who is forev- darlings,” Well, I have murdered er interpreting things for them and entire chapters. For example, I Do you have a regular writing rou- bossing them about. wrote some early chapters about tine? Are you a rapid writer? Philip Franklin, vice-president of Did you bounce your manuscript the International Mercantile Ma- A regular writing routine? If only! I draft off anyone as you wrote? rine, owners of the Titanic. They am a very undisciplined writer. were based on meticulous research When I was working on The Mid- As I was writing The Midnight and were, no doubt, fascinating. night Watch I would sometimes But they didn’t fit the overall write two thousand words a narrative arc so they had to go. day or more; but at other times “Even though we live in a digi- Goodbye darlings! I would write nothing for tal age I love paper books . . . I weeks. YouTube is my great Which do you enjoy more, re- enemy: it’s very difficult to do have an extensive library of search or writing? the hard work of writing when Titanic-related books . . .” funny cats, crashing cars, news I found the research easier than bloopers and 747 takeoffs are the writing, but I enjoyed the only a click away. Watch I was lucky enough to have writing more. I have lots of experi- My consolation is that I am a fast input from two wonderful Austra- ence in gathering information and typist. During long sea voyages I lian writers, Delia Falconer and facts, but yoking that data into an taught myself to touch type, and I Debra Adelaide. I bounced my interesting narrative was a new and am very glad I did. When ideas manuscript off them often, and it difficult challenge. It was in the ac- come, my fingers fly! would sometimes come back in a tual writing of the story that I took very different shape indeed. material that in a sense belonged to Your prose is extremely distinctive, I also showed early drafts to everyone and transformed it into with a lyrical quality. Was it diffi- friends, and discovered that often something uniquely my own. cult finding your writing voice? Friend A disliked the very thing that Friend B loved the most. There Do you have a personal research Finding the right narrative voice was much disagreement, for exam- library? was one of the key challenges of this ple, about the novel’s controversial whole project. Because I knew so penultimate chapter. All I could do I do. Even though we live in a digi- many facts about the Californian was listen carefully to all advice giv- tal age I love my paper books! I incident, I found it difficult to resist en, and then make a decision based have seven or eight bookshelves the temptation to show off that on my own artistic vision and judg- containing a wide range of fiction knowledge in my novel. The result ment. and non-fiction titles. And, of was not pretty. The story drowned course, I have an extensive library of
21 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 Titanic-related books and materials gational elements of the Californian high-profile maritime accident, or a which I have accumulated over a story, and one of my great frustra- fictional, non-historical novel. After lifetime. Two highlights of this col- tions is reading work by authors the detailed research of The Mid- lection are a first edition of Mar- who clearly don’t understand the night Watch, I would love to not shall Everett’s Story of the Wreck of technical aspects of ship operations have to worry about facts! the Titanic, published within and navigation. In my experience, months of the disaster, and a first those who argue that the Califor- What other topics interest you from edition of Titanic and Other Ships nian did not see the Titanic (the an author's standpoint? by Charles Lightoller, second officer “Lordites”) tend to misunderstand of the Titanic. the nature of mid-ocean position I hate to admit it, but I am also fas- fixing. cinated by aviation disasters. One in Were you able to set your manu- My work as a litigation lawyer particular: the Air New Zealand script aside while you were working was useful too: it helped me to in- DC-10 crash into Mount Erebus of on it or was it always in your sub- terpret and be properly skeptical 1979. It is, in my opinion, the most conscious? about the evidence given by key fascinating air accident of all time. I witnesses at the British and Ameri- would love to write a book about it. During the years I was researching can inquiries. I have much experi- and writing The Midnight Watch, I ence listening to the testimony of What sort of reader were you as a was never able to put the project people who have a very clear motive boy? Are there childhood books and wholly to one side. It always authors that have remained ticked away softly in the deep with you over the years? part of my brain, and ideas “. . . my experience as a cadet would sometimes pop to the and ship’s officer in the Austra- I was an avid reader as a boy. I surface when I least expected it. loved adventure novels (Enid These ideas could vanish as lian merchant navy were in- Blyton), detective novels (Aga- quickly as they appeared, so I valuable in the writing . . .” ton Sax, Alfred Hitchcock and often found myself quickly tap- the Three Investigators, Agatha ping thoughts into my mobile Christie) and books about phone. to lie, and sometimes their evasive, ships, planes and space travel. One desperate tactics can be a sad specta- book in particular which has stayed How much did your experience as a cle. Did Captain Lord think the with me from my very earliest years ship’s officer and maritime lawyer rocket-firing ship seen by his second is Mae and Ira Freeman’s You Will contribute to the development of officer was the Titanic? Absolutely Go to the Moon, written ten years The Midnight Watch? not, he says on oath. With fifteen before Apollo 11. (I, of course, read hundred ghosts looking for some- it many years after it was pub- My four years of training at the one to blame, how could he say lished!) Unusually, it is written in Australian Maritime College and otherwise? second person future tense (“You my experience as a cadet and ship’s will go . . .”) which creates a sense officer in the Australian merchant Is there a second novel in your im- of certainty in a human future in navy were invaluable in the writing mediate future? space. The book told me I would of The Midnight Watch. I was lucky take off in a rocket, visit a space enough to be one of the last year Hmmm. Interesting question! I do station, and live in a house on the groups to be taught the art of mid- have some thoughts for a second moon. At the time, I believed it. ocean navigation with sextant, com- novel, but they are very undevel- But none of these things have come pass and trigonometric tables. No oped at this stage. I am being pulled to pass, of course, which I think is GPS! This arcane knowledge was in two very different directions – a just a little bit sad. essential in understanding the navi- non-fiction account of a recent
22 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 Do you read only books or articles I have just taken from my shelf An- rockets, but it didn’t come?”) that are relevant to your work? Do thony Doerr’s All the Light We Can- But to move away from the Ti- you read fiction? not See. The Times says it’s tanic, I would love to have dinner “sublime.” The Guardian says it’s with Christopher Hitchens, because I love fiction! I have read it all my “magnificent.” I think I’m going to at dinners he was known for always life. In recent years, reading fiction enjoy it. suggesting a second bottle of wine, has also been my work, because I and then a third, in order to induce have been teaching English at a Are there books in your library that a “Feast of Reason and Flow of high school in Sydney. you find yourself returning to again Soul” (to quote Hitchens quoting and again? Wodehouse quoting Pope); Char- What is the last book you read for lotte Bronte, because she was a real enjoyment? Yes: the novels of P. G. Wodehouse firecracker, and I’d love to hear her (which cheer me when I’m down), speak to Hitchens in the same Strangely, a book entitled Kill Your Agatha Christie (which are like mode that Jane Eyre spoke to Friends by John Niven. It is one of mathematical puzzles, which I love) Rochester; and Eugene Cernan, the the most violent, politically incor- and Henry James (which, I think, last man on the moon, because he rect, profanity-strewn books I have are the best novels in the English spent a whole three days on the ever read. I loved it! Ironically, it language). And, strangely, Emily moon (as opposed to Neil Arm- was loaned to me by a good friend. Post’s Etiquette 1959 edition, which strong’s three hours), and that expe- Perhaps he was trying to tell rience surely would be worthy me something. Either way, I of an anecdote or two. What found it to be an effective anti- “I love the novels of Henry an interesting gathering that dote to the sugary good will James . . . I also enjoy reading would be. and festive spirit of the Christ- mas holiday season. marine fiction: Herman Mel- Is there anything else you ville, Nicholas Monsarrat . . .” would like to say to our read- Who are writers you most ad- ers? mire? has useful advice even in these days Only that I am grateful to Quarter- I love the novels of Henry James. I of Facebook and Twitter. For in- deck for this opportunity to ramble think The Golden Bowl is an ex- stance, one should not go window on about topics that fascinate me; traordinary work. It requires com- shopping from one’s car by driving and that that I hope Quarterdeck’s mitment early on, but then the it slowly along a crowded street.) readers, if they choose to embark on suspense slowly grows and before Oh, and Elmore Leonard’s 10 The Midnight Watch, enjoy reading you know it you’re hooked. It is Rules of Writing, which, in my it as much as I enjoyed writing it. It like a game of chess with only four humble opinion, is probably the is a sad story, but I hope within its pieces, and the final checkmate is only guidebook a writer needs. pages can be found positive ideas breathtaking. about the power of forgiveness and My other favorite authors in- Name three historical figures, living the strength of the human spirit. clude George Eliot, William Somer- or dead, whom you would enjoy set Maugham and Ian McEwan. I chatting with over dinner. also enjoy reading marine fiction: Herman Melville, Nicholas Mon- I am tempted to say Herbert Stone, Visit David Dyer on sarrat, C. S. Forester and Brian Cal- Captain Lord, and Captain Smith Facebook. lison. of the Titanic. (“Captain Smith, how did you feel when you saw a What do you plan to read next? ship on the horizon, fired distress
23 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 REVIEW
A NIGHT REMEMBERED by George Jepson
s midnight approached on Learning that Titanic has indeed April 14, 1912, the magnifi- sunk, with great loss of life, and that a A cent liner RMS Titanic rushed mystery ship may have stood by and through the icy North Atlantic dark- ignored the white distress rockets, ness at 22½ knots. Steadman is determined to find out Within minutes, the great ship why, launching a quest that ends nearly struck an iceberg. The collision set in a half century later in the living room motion an epic and tragic drama of Captain Stanley Lord in Wallaby, played out by 2,224 souls aboard the England. vessel, 1,500 of whom would perish in David’s Dyer’s passion for the true the freezing sea. story behind the Titanic and Califor- Ten miles away, another ship, the SS nian affair underlies a triumphant de- Californian, bound from London to but novel, tying historical fact and Boston, sat idly in the same ice field as characters together with a plausible fic- Titanic, waiting for daylight before tional premise. proceeding through the treacherous That Californian lay idle but a few waters. miles away is a fact. That Third Officer Aboard the Californian about 11:10 Groves alerted Captain Lord to the p.m., Third Officer Charles Groves nameless ship’s presence is fact. And observed a ship’s lights moving on the that Second Officer Herbert Stone in- THE MIDNIGHT WATCH horizon. Thirty minutes later he formed Lord of the distress rockets is St. Martin’s Press, $26.99, looked on as the nameless vessel fact. U.S. Hardback / stopped abruptly and seemed to extin- $12.99, Kindle and NOOK What is not known is why Lord did guish her lights. Groves immediately not order Californian to Titanic’s res- notified Californian’s master, Captain The story is told through the eyes of cue, which could have saved hundred Stanley Lord, and was told to contact crewmen aboard the Californian, the of lives. The answer, largely unre- the ship by Morse lamp. family of third-class passengers lost in solved, is left to history, but Dyer of- The anonymous ship was the Titan- the disaster, as well as an intrepid Bos- fers a believable scenario as to how this ic, which over the next two hours ton journalist, John Steadman, who could have happened. launched eight distress rockets that refuses to end his investigation into the The characters – real and imagined – were seen aboard the Californian. Why tragedy until the unvarnished truth is speak in language that reflects the early then did she not steam to the rescue, known. twentieth century. Crisp, spare prose, preventing the horrific loss of life? As early news reaches America that often with a lyrical quality, creates a In The Midnight Watch, Australian Titanic has struck ice and is seriously pace that left us begging for more in- author David Dyer, drawing on years damaged, Steadman travels from Bos- formation with each succeeding chap- of detailed research, presents a power- ton to New York by rail to learn the ter. ful fictional account of Californian’s latest straight from the horse’s mouth – The Midnight Watch is simply one of failure to respond to Titanic’s distress Philip Franklin, then in charge of the the most engaging historical novels to signals. White Star Line office. come along in many years.
24 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA FICTION
April Available Now
The Winds of Folly Empire Rising by Seth Hunter by Rick Campbell
(McBooks Press, $18.95, U.S. Trade Paperback / $9.99, (St. Martin’s Press, $25.99, U.S. Hardback / $12.99, Kindle and NOOK ) This is a compelling new historical Kindle and NOOK) China launches a swift and deadly naval adventure from a master of maritime storytelling. attack on Taiwan. But it’s only the first move in a much 1796: Nathan Peake, captain of the frigate Unicorn is deadlier game. The problem is that China’s limited sup- sent with a small squadron into the Adriatic to help ply of oil is threatening to derail its economic growth bring Venice into an Italian alliance with Britain against and prosperity. Having failed to win access to a greater the French. He establishes a British naval presence, har- supply diplomatically, Chinese party secretary, Xiang rying the French corsairs that swarm out of Ancona in Chenglei sets his backup plan in motion. And what is Italy and confronts the politics of “intrigue, poison and war, but diplomacy by other means? When Taiwan is the stiletto” in Venice, but learns that Bonaparte is ne- invaded, the U.S. Pacific Fleet fails to repel the invading gotiating a peace deal with the Austrians – Britain’s only Chinese forces. It falls to an unlikely alliance of three remaining ally. Worse, the Spanish are about to ally people to stop this incursion and prevent an all-but-in- with the French. Nathan returns to the Unicorn and evitable global war. National Security Advisor Christine rejoins Nelson for the decisive Battle of St. Vincent O’Connor has critical information, but she’s trapped in against the entire Spanish fleet. Beijing; Captain Murray Wilson, commanding officer of the submarine USS Michigan must somehow infil- trate the Chinese submarine blockade; and Navy SEAL Jake Harrison must lead a strike team into the most hostile of territories with only hours to implement the
25 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA FICTION
Available Now April
Britannia’s Spartan The Pride and the Anguish by Antoine Vanner by Douglas Reeman
(Old Salt Press, $13.50, U.S. Trade Paperback / $3.49, (McBooks Press, $18.95, U.S. Trade Paperback) Singa- Kindle) This is the fourth volume of the Dawlish pore, November, 1941 . . . They called it the “Gibraltar Chronicles. It is 1882 and Captain Nicholas Dawlish of the Far East” – a British rock that could not be taken. has just taken command of the Royal Navy’s newest But suddenly, in a lightning blow, Singapore may be cruiser, HMS Leonidas. Her voyage to the Far East is to defeated. Call it incompetence or call it false pride. It be a peaceful venture, a test of this innovative vessel’s doesn’t really matter. Just as the warplanes of the Rising engines and boilers. As Leonidas arrives in Hong Kong, Sun take command of the skies. Lieutenant Ralph Dawlish has no forewarning of the nightmare of riot, Trewin, who was a proud recipient of the Distinguished treachery, massacre, and battle that he and his crew will Service Cross, arrives at Singapore as second-in-com- encounter. A new balance of power is emerging in the mand of the gun boat HMS Porcupine. Is it too late to Far East. Imperial China, weak and corrupt, is chal- overcome the ignorance and blind optimism he finds in lenged by a rapidly modernizing Japan, while Russia Singapore? threatens both from the north. They all need to control Korea, a kingdom frozen in time and reluctant to emerge from centuries of isolation. British interests, too, are at stake, and treading a safe path between the rival powers is vital, but perhaps impossible. Dawlish finds himself a critical player in a complex political powder keg against the background of real historical events.
26 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA FICTION
Available Now Available Now
Kings and Emperors The Assassin’s Honor by Dewey Lambdin by Robert N. Macomber
(Thomas Dunne Books, $17.99, U.S. Trade Paperback / (Pineapple Press, $26.95, U.S. Hardback / $9.99, Kindle $9.99, Kindle and NOOK) Captain Alan Lewrie, Royal / $9.49, NOOK) Commander Peter Wake, USN, is fi- Navy, is still in Gibraltar, his raids along the coast of nally happy. In command of a newly commissioned southern Spain shot to a halt. He is reduced to com- light cruiser in the Caribbean, he is back at sea where all manding a clutch of harbor defense gunboats in the bay real sailors belong. All his years of espionage in the more while his ship, HMS Sapphire, slowly grounds herself sordid corners of the world are over. Ashore, he has the on a reef of beef bones! Until Napoleon Bonaparte’s sincere love of a beautiful, fascinating, exotic woman. invasion of Portugal and his march into Spain change After years as a lonely widower, he is considering mar- everything, freeing Sapphire to roam against the king’s riage. Everything changes when a man is found mur- enemies once more! As kings are overthrown and popu- dered aboard a steamer at Key West. Summoned to lar uprisings break out across Spain, Lewrie’s right back investigate, Wake uses his naval intelligence skills to in the action, ferrying weapons to arm Spanish patriots, decipher the strange clues left behind and discovers that scouting the impregnable fort of Ceuta, escorting the an important man will be assassinated by a foreign team advance units of British expeditionary armies to aid the of killers in eight days. But who, where, and why? The Spanish, and even going ashore to witness the first bat- clues lead him on a desperate voyage to save the man tles between Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of and stop a war. Germans in Mexico, Cuban rebels in Wellington, and Napoleon’s best marshals, as the long Key West, and Spanish counter-intelligence agents in Peninsular War that broke Imperial France begins to Tampa, are all part of the equation he must solve. But unfold. nothing is as it seems.
27 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA FICTION
THE MATTY GRAVES NOVELS by Broos Campbell
1 - NO QUARTER / $7.99, Kindle / $9.49, NOOK). When he seems, and Matty must sort out the (McBooks Press, $23.95, U.S. Hardback Matty Graves, acting lieutenant in the twisted lies from the cold, hard truth – / $16.95, U.S. trade paperback / $9.99, newly formed U.S. Navy, agrees to be- and keep himself alive long enough to Kindle / $9.49, NOOK) This first book come a spy in the French colony of learn from his mistakes. in the series introduces Matty Graves, Saint-Dómingue, he plunges headlong midshipman in the early years of the into a brutal world of betrayal and 3 - PETER WICKED United States Navy. In 1799, the double-cross beyond anything he’s ever (McBooks Press, $23.95, U.S. Hardback young U.S. Navy faces France in an known. At first the bloody civil war / $7.99, Kindle / $9.49, NOOK) Lieu- undeclared Quasi-War for the Caribbe- between former slaves and their mixed- tenant Matty Graves is still recovering an. Matty Graves is caught up in esca- race overseers simply offers a way to from his ordeal during the slave rebel- lating violence as he serves aboard the test himself and a means to purge his lion in the French colony of Saint Rattle-Snake under his drunken cousin, guilt over the death of his former cap- Dómingue when he is ordered to Billy. Matty already knows how to tain. But soon Matty is drawn into the Washington to answer questions about handle the sails and fight a ship. Now, heart of the conflict when he meets the the death of his former captain. On with the sarcastic Lieutenant Peter flamboyant Juge and the mysterious home soil he must deal with the mys- Wicked as his mentor and nemesis, he Grandfather Chatterbox – and faces an tery surrounding his birth, as well as faces the ironies of a war where telling interrogation by the brutal colonel the attractions of his best friend’s sister. friend from foe is no mean trick. known as “The Whip.” White suprem- Offered a command of his own, he acists, cutthroat patriots and desperate seizes the opportunity to make a name 2 - THE WAR OF KNIVES rebels vie for control in the colonial and fortune for himself – even if it (McBooks Press, $23.95, US Hardback) world’s richest island. No one is what means destroying those closest to him.
McBooks Press offers all titles on its website at 30% off list prices: www.mcbooks.com.
28 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 HISTORICAL FICTION
Available Now Available Now
Warriors of the Storm Fields of Blood by Bernard Cornwell by Ben Kane
(Harper, $27.99, U.S. Hardback / $14.99, Kindle) A (St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99, U.S. Trade Paperback / fragile peace reigns in Wessex, Mercia and East Anglia. $9.99, Kindle and NOOK) Hannibal’s campaign to de- King Alfred’s son,, Edward, and formidable daughter, feat Rome continues. Having brought his army safely Aethelflaed, rule the kingdoms. But all around the rest- over the Alps in winter, he now marches south to con- less Northmen, eyeing the rich lands and wealthy front the enemy. With him is a young soldier, Hanno. churches, are mounting raids. Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Like his general, Hanno burns to vanquish Rome. Fac- the kingdoms’ greatest warrior, controls northern Mer- ing Hanno is his former friend, Quintus, whom Hanno cia from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But forces met while in Roman captivity. A bitter quarrel with his are gathering against him. Northmen allied to the Irish, father led Quintus to join the Roman infantry under an led by the fierce warrior, Ragnall Ivarson, are soon assumed name. Among his legionaries, he finds that his joined by the Northumbrians, and their strength could enemies are not just the Carthaginians, but men of his prove overwhelming. Despite the gathering threat, both own side. A stealthy game of cat and mouse is being Edward and Aethelflaed are reluctant to move out of the played, with Hannibal seeking to fight, and Rome’s safety of their fortifications. But who can be trusted? In generals avoiding battle. But battle cannot be delayed the struggle between family and loyalty, between per- for much longer. Eventually, the two armies meet under sonal ambition and political commitment, there will be a fierce summer sun in August in the south of Italy. The no easy path. But a man with a warrior’s courage may place is Cannae – the fields of blood. The encounter be able to find it. will go down in history as one of the bloodiest battles ever fought.
29 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 HISTORICAL FICTION
Available Now Available Now
The Crescent Spy The White Ghost by Michael Wallace by James R. Benn
(Lake Union Publishing, $24.95, U.S. Hardback / (SOHO Crime, $26.95, U.S. Hardback / $15.95, U.S. $14.95, U.S. Trade Paperback / $4.99, Kindle / $9.99, Trade Paperback / $12.99, Kindle / $15.49, Nook) 1943 NOOK) Writing under a man’s name, Josephine Breaux . . . In the midst of the Solomon Islands campaign, is the finest reporter at Washington’s Morning Clarion. Lieutenant Billy Boyle is sent by the powerful Kennedy Using her wit and charm, she never fails to get the family to investigate a murder in which Jack Kennedy scoop on the latest Union and Confederate activities. has been implicated. The victim is a native coastwatch- But when a rival paper reveals her true identity, accusa- er, an allied intelligence operative, whom Kennedy dis- tions of treason fly. Despite her claims of loyalty to the covered on the island of Tulagi with his head bashed in. Union, she is arrested as a spy and traitor. To Jose- Kennedy was recovering in the Navy hospital on the phine’s surprise, she’s whisked away to the White island after the sinking of his motor torpedo boat. The House, where she learns that President Lincoln himself military hasn’t decided whether to court-martial him for wishes to use her cunning and skill for a secret mission losing the boat. The last thing the Kennedys want is a in New Orleans that could hasten the end of the war. murder charge hanging over his head. Billy knows first- For Josephine, though, this mission threatens to open hand that he shouldn’t trust Jack: the man is a charmer, old wounds and expose dangerous secrets. In the middle a womanizer, and, when it suits his needs, a liar. But of the most violent conflict the country has ever seen, would he kill someone in cold blood? And if so, why? can one woman overcome the treacherous secrets of her The first murder is followed by two more. To find the past in order to secure her nation’s future? killer, Billy must sort through a tangled, shifting web of motives and identities.
30 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA HISTORY
Available Now Available Now
In Full Glory Reflected War of 1812 by Ralph E. Eshelman and Burton K. Kummerow by Peter Rindlesbacher
(Maryland Historical Society, $17.99, U.S. Paperback) (Quarry Press, $39.95, U.S. Hardback) Marine and mar- All but forgotten by Americans, the War of 1812 itime paintings portraying battles between the British (1812–1815) was a dramatic watershed for the young and American navies on the Great Lakes during the Republic of the United States. Ill-prepared to fight the War of 1812-1814. This book marks the sesquicenten- powerful English nation, the U.S. struggled through nial of the War of 1812 by reproducing marine artist three years of conflict, but emerged more unified with Peter Rindlisbacher’s celebrated paintings. Museums new patriotic symbols like the “Star-Spangled Banner.” and historic sites in the U.S. and Canada have pur- Much of the fighting occurred in the Chesapeake re- chased many of his paintings, while print editions of his gion. In Full Glory Reflected uncovers gripping stories of work are sold as fund raisers for historic groups. devastating raids, heroic defense, gallant privateers, fugi- tive slaves, and threatened lands. The historic tales un- fold with a lively narrative, well over a hundred vivid illustrations, and clear maps to follow the action. In ad- dition, a travel section provides a rich guide for adven- turers who want to step back 200 years and explore the tidewater world where the war was fought. In Full Glory Reflected is an enchanting invitation to travel the Star- Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and discover the amazing world of our ancestors.
31 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 SEA HISTORY
Available Now Now Available
America Spreads Her Sails Sailor in the White House by Clayton R. Barrow, Jr. by Robert F. Cross
(Naval Institute Press, $29.95, U.S. Paperback) / $20.99, (Naval Institute Press, $21.95, U.S. Trade Paperback / Kindle / $17.49, NOOK) In this new paperback edition $11.99, Kindle / $16.99, NOOK) Now available in pa- of America Spreads Her Sails, fourteen writers and histo- perback, Robert F. Cross’s Sailor in the White House rians demonstrate how American men and goods in remains one of the most interesting and intimate books American-made ships moved out over Alfred Thayer about Franklin D. Roosevelt. Secret Service agents, fam- Mahan’s “broad common,” the sea, to extend the coun- ily, and old sailing pals share stories about their days on try’s commerce, power, political influence, and culture. the water with America’s greatest seafaring president. Captain Thomas Catesby Jones, Lieutenant John “Mad The author argues that the skills required to be a good Jack” Percival, and Commodore Matthew Calbraith sailor are the same skills that made FDR a successful Perry are among some of the colorful names that many politician: the ability to alter courses, make compromis- will recognize. They are all gone now, these strong men es, and shift positions as the situation warrants. This and their stout ships, who carried their country’s colors perspective on Roosevelt shows how his love of the sea up to the Northern Lights, down to the Antarctic’s still- shaped his presidency, and its unique look remains re- ness, over the cutting coral, across the Roaring Forties, freshing even today. and into the great ports and the backwaters of the world. The results of their adventures, however, are not forgotten, but instead set the stage for America to indis- putably become the dominant world power of the past century.
32 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016 BY GEORGE!
CON TI N UED F R OM PAGE 4 During the summer in my youth, the Kalamazoo Public activities. Our Boy Scout Troop 39 met weekly in the Library Bookmobile visited Milwood weekly, providing a gymnasium. A school carnival each spring brought out source of books between school years. families to wander the hallways, participating in games for In those days, World War II prizes or trying to win the cake was still a fresh memory. By walk. I attended my first dance the middle of the 1950s, I was there when Elvis and doo- reading World War II naval wop topped the music charts. histories, with an emphasis on In 1955, Milwood’s base- the South Pacific, where my ball diamonds were the site of father served aboard a U.S. the first Little League in Kala- Army Air Force crash boat. mazoo. Young players, in- Two favorite volumes were cluding our grandsons Nick Submarine Operations in and Drew, still run the base World War II by Theodore paths and chase fly balls on Roscoe and Day of Infamy by these fields. A regulation-size Walter Lord. Six decades lat- football field, where we er I still refer to these titles, played flag football, once which are part of my person- stood where new baseball al library, along with select Landmark editions. diamonds have been built. Reading became a habit and a pleasurable pastime in an Late last summer, time caught up with the building, era when technology was primitive by today’s standards. which had served students for almost a century. The deci- Television was still in its infancy. Our 12-inch black-and- sion was made to raze the school to make way for a new white set was only switched on in the evening for a couple structure. However, before work began the community of hours, with limited programming. was invited to an open house. A big wooden radio on my So we joined a few dozen former students, teachers and bedside table, with a dial that others, strolling the halls, visiting classrooms and the gym. glowed amber, was my prima- To my eye, very little had changed since the late 1950s. ry entertainment, other than Memories flowed, while the faces of classmates, teachers books. I grew up listening to and administrators were recalled. In the library, only programs like the Lone Rang- shelves remained. The gym, with its aged hardwood floor er, Gunsmoke, Boston Black- was exactly the same as when we shot baskets, climbed the ie, and Challenge of the hemp rope that once hung from the ceiling, or stood on Yukon with Sergeant Preston. the sideline waiting for roll to be called. I listened to the radio every In late summer, construction crews started demolition night after crawling into bed. I and by December the structure was a pile of rubble. Driv- still recall the chill that passed ing by the site with his parents, young Sean Mason (also a through me on March 5, former student at the school) suggested they stop and ask a 1953, when a late evening construction worker for a brick by which to remember the broadcast was interrupted to old structure. “And let’s get one for Mister Jepson,” he announce the death of Joseph Stalin. said. Walking, or riding my bike, three blocks twice daily to It was a gift that keeps on giving. One glance at the the plain two-story brick school was a regular routine, but brick and I recall again and again the immense role Mil- I spent much more time there after classes were dismissed, wood Elementary played in my life. as well as in the evening and on weekends. Memories are forever treasures. The building was an anchor for numerous community George Jepson
33 | Quarterdeck | March / April 2016