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Julian Stockwin

Im Old Navy, with a deep respect and admiration for the service, so it had to be the Navy Id write about.
Julian writes in a small study on the second floor of the eighteenthcentury home in Devon, England, which he shares with wife and literary partner, Kathy. There he is surrounded by marine art, his research library, and his collection of period naval artifacts, including a seamans cutlass.

ver a decade ago, English novelist Julian Stockwin introduced Thomas Paine Kydd to naval fiction readers with the launch of Kydd, the story of a young wig-maker seized and pressed into His Majestys Navy aboard the line-of-battle ship Duke William. The twelfth title in the series, Conquest, which is presently available in hardcover in both the US and UK, finds Captain Thomas Kydd in command of the frigate LAurore in the wake of the Royal Navys victory at Trafalgar. Britains race for empire is about to begin. With the next chapter in the Kydd saga, Betrayal scheduled for launch in the US and UK in October the author discusses the series in this interview with Quarterdeck: Take us back to your original conception of the Kydd series. How did that come about? Has your vision for the books changed over the years? Well, of all things, I was a software designer before I became a writer. Id just signed off

the men who actually did the job out there on the yardarm, serving the great cannon or crowding aboard an enemy deck, rather than of those shouting orders from behind. So the lower deck it was and then I came across some surprising statistics. Unlike the army, where commissions were bought, all naval officers had to qualify professionally, and scattered among Julian Stockwin looks out to sea, while conducting location research for about a couple of Conquest in South Africa, as Captain Thomas Kydd joins Britains race for empire (Photo by Kathy Stockwin). hundred common seamen who made on my biggest and most fraught the awesome journey from the project. As I sank into an armchair, focsle to the quarterdeck, thereby my lovely wife Kathy thrust a large turning themselves into gentlemen. tumbler of whisky into my hand Some became captains of their own and looked me straight in the eyes. ships; remarkably, some victims of Sweetheart, she said, get a life! the press-gang even became Her suggestion: that I write. And admirals. How could it be so? Just about the sea. I have to say that was what kind of men were they? I something I had never considered, began to write my story. but the idea took root. Initially I felt the series would Im Old Navy, with a deep run to eleven books. Id taken my respect and admiration for the heros career and divided it up into service, so it had to be the Navy Id logical segments, which happened write about. I chose Nelsons time, to work out at that number. the great climax of the age of sail However, as time went on, and I and a magnificent canvas for sea delved much deeper into the tales. This was an era when the sea historical record, Ive had to revise was respected and wooed by men that number upwards, considerably. who didnt have steam engines and I now think there will be twenty or brute force. I also wanted to bring so books. the sea itself into a more prominent My actual vision for the series role. But to achieve that, it seemed remains pretty much as it did at the logical to take the perspective of beginning one mans journey from pressed man to admiral. Its just the number of his adventures along the way that has changed! There is one thing that has altered considerably, though his friend Nicholas Renzi has assumed a greater role in the series than I first thought he would have. Initially I introduced him as a foil to Kydd and as someone who could express things a common sailor could not, but now he very much has his own storyline. And of course theres his relationship with Cecilia, but thats for a future book. In what ways was the Battle of Trafalgar a defining point in the Age of Fighting Sail? Victory at Trafalgar removed the specter of invasion and also, of course, that defining figure of the age, Horatio Nelson tragically died of his wounds in the combat. My book Victory completed a trilogy within the series (which included the previous two titles: Treachery and Invasion) that dealt with the incredible events in the two years leading up to Napoleon's defeat at Trafalgar in 1805. Tell us about the challenges for you as a writer after finishing Victory. Basically, it was where to go next? Nelson was gone. There were to be no more big set-piece fleet battles. Could I sustain sufficient interest for my readers in what followed for the Royal Navy? Fortunately, I found there was so much going on after 1805 to get the creative juices flowing. And not just events, but big themes emerged, beginning with the Race for Empire. In his ocean-ranging frigate LAurore

Kydd will be at the forefront of this race to wrest empire from the French and Dutch. Ive broad outlines for ten more books, taking the series up to the mid-nineteenth century. Can you briefly tell us about Conquest, the book that follows Victory, and your location research for that title.

All I had was a consuming love of the Age of Sail and deep experience of the sea
hostile population. The city begins to revolt against its liberators. Now Kydds men must face fierce resistance and the betrayal of their closest allies. Can they save themselves, and their prize? I get the sense that you really enjoy writing. What book has given you the most satisfaction? Always a hard question for an author! A bit like asking a parent which child he prefers. However, if pushed, Id have to answer with two titles. Kydd, my first book, will always be a very special one for me. When I started on that I did not have a published word to my name, had never written anything other than business reports, and was following in the footsteps of writers I had admired since childhood. I was full of trepidation. Was I taking on a task that was beyond me? All I had was a consuming love of the Age of Sail and deep experience of the sea and Kathys faith in me. However, after I had learned the skills of writing, the nuts and bolts of the craft so to speak, I found I really loved the process. Part two to the answer to this question is: the book I am working on now, which of course depends on where I am in the creative calendar. I find I become so engrossed in work-in-progress that this takes over my life in many respects. I live and breathe the story, and am reluctant having

battlefield at Blaauwberg is now near a pleasant beach town with a stunning view of Table Mountain. Simons Town was much developed for the Navy and later became famous during the Second World The book largely takes place in War convoy battles. South Africa. Kydd joins an Sadly our time in South Africa expedition to take Dutch-held Cape was all too short, but Im working Town, a strategic imperative to secure the rich trade-route to India. hard on a reason to get Kydd back there in a future book! But even if the British can defeat the enemy and take possession of The second book after Trafalgar, the capital, there is still more Betrayal, comes out in October. fighting to be done. Kydd and his men must defend the fragile colony Can you give us a preview of from attacks by the enemy from all what Kydd will encounter next? sides, while braving the wild beasts and hostile environment of Africa's Heres the book blurb: Cape Colony is proving a tiresome assignment vast and savage hinterland. for Captain Kydd's daring Kathy and I had the great pleasure of visiting Cape Town on commander-in-chief Commodore Popham. Rumors that South location research for this book in Americas Spanish colonies are in a late 2009. Much of what Kydd knew there remains to this day. The ferment of popular unrest and of a treasure hoard of silver spur him to Castle of Good Hope is in immaculate order, astonishing in a assemble a makeshift invasion fleet and launch a bold attack on the fortification nearly four centuries old. Government House still stands capital of the Viceroyalty of the River Plate, Buenos Aires. regally in the very pleasant Navigating the treacherous bars and Company Gardens where Kydd promenaded with Thrse. And the mud flats of the river, the British invasion force lands and wins a Chavonne Battery, which fired on battle against improbable odds, L'Aurore during her daring reconnaissance, has been preserved taking the capital and the silver. But nothing is as simple as it seems in for posterity. this region of the world: the But, of course, there have been uprising that will see the end of changes, most notably around the seafront of Table Bay. In the early Spanish rule never arrives and the nineteenth century it boasted just a locals begin to see dark conspiracies behind the invader's actions. single rickety jetty; today it has Soon the tiny British force finds been extensively reclaimed to produce a world-class harbour. The itself surrounded by an ever more

Falconer's Marine Dictionary by William Falconer (Cadell 1815, reprint Chatham Publishing). This is one of the enduring classics that have come down to us from Nelsons time, wonderfully recreated from the original in its full detail. This is Burneys 1815 edition, the most comprehensive and informative, tapping resources I know you have a huge reference unavailable to Falconer in 1769 to make this the definitive picture of library of the Age of Fighting Sail. If you had to pick, say three Nelsons Navy at its apogee. It contains marine technology, data titles, to recommend to readers on technical aspects of shipwishing to delve deeper, what building, fitting and armaments, would they be? and the Navys administrative and operational practices. The work A difficult call, there are so many should without doubt be in the excellent volumes out now but possession of every serious student heres what Ive chosen: Seamanship in the Age of Sail by of the Royal Navy of the time. And John Harland (Conway Maritime). its now available online! Harlands work came out in 1984, Youve written a little non-fiction and is a classic of its type. Every aspect of handling a man-of-war is tome. Any plans for more works detailed and illustrated with superb in this field? line drawings by Mark Myers and Yes, Stockwins Maritime the book is designed by Geoff Hunt. A definitive guide as to how Miscellany came out a couple of years ago and Ive had very kind the ships of Kydds day were feedback on the book, which is now actually sailed. available as an ebook, as well as Nelsons Navy: The Ships, Men hardback. It was a most enjoyable and Organisation, 1793-1815 by Brian Lavery (Conway Maritime). exercise and I certainly would like Lavery is a leading authority on the to do something else along those sailing fighting ship and this work, lines at some point. written over ten years ago (and How has the popularity of social reprinted many times), deservedly remains a classic. Beginning with a media changed the way you connect with your readers? background on the wars with France and naval administration, Readers have got in touch with me Lavery covers the design and either by email or letter right from construction of ships, training and the publication of the first book. I organization of officers and men and life at sea. It is in the latter that personally respond to all communiLavery excels in his description of cations. I think it is very important for an author to keep in touch with a world far removed from the readers in this way. hardships and cruelty that is often I must admit I was a bit wary at attributed to life on the lower deck. To shut down the computer at the end of the day. As well as the actual writing of any book, I also love doing the research. Following up little-known facts, visiting places Kydd goes to, delving into the Georgian mindset. I know Im very privileged to be doing what Im doing. first about social media they all take time and theres only so many hours in a writers day, but I found I enjoy the interchange. Twitter is good for short bursts of information, quick chat, or sharing links. And I like Facebook because it is more visual. And then theres my newsletter. Originally called The Bosuns Chronicle, its now Olla-Podrida. I dont personally write it (thats done by the Bosun), but I do have a hand in the editorial content. Since its first publication in 2001 the circulation has grown to in excess of 5000, which is very gratifying. What are you working on now? Book 14, as yet untitled. It is set in the Caribbean in 1806-1807 and will be out in 2013. The last time Kydd and Renzi were there was of course in Seaflower, so a lot has happened to them both, professionally and personally. I can promise you some surprises, but mustnt give the game away. Is there anything else youd like to add? Just to say thank-you to all my readers for the huge support over the years. I love hearing from you so please keep emails and comments via Twitter and Facebook coming!

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