ARTEMIS: Sailing seven seas

ARTEMIS is the second book I wrote – what a change for Thomas Kydd, no longer in the old line-of-battle ship Duke William, he finds himself on the deck of a crack frigate – and rated a full able seaman! Renzi, Stirk, Doud, Doggo, Pinto and Wong join him as replacement for prize crew.


What were the challenges in writing a follow-on to Kydd?

Signing the book!

Signing the book!

I think everyone who has written and had published one book is very nervous about their next one, especially if the first is very well received. You wonder if all your creative energies were used up for the debut title, you question whether you really can write another 100,000 or so words.

As ARTEMIS was the second in a series I also had to make sure I’d got the continuity right. Historical time, character consistencies and development, descriptions. Also, looking ahead to succeeding books I had to make sure I hadn’t shot myself in the foot with some incident that would later come back to haunt me.

Actually there was no time for hanging around worrying. As soon as I submitted the manuscript of ARTEMIS Kathy and I were off working on the next book. We were in the Caribbean on location research for SEAFLOWER when we heard from Roland Philipps, my then editor at Hodder & Stoughton, that he’d just finished reading the manuscript and he loved the book – and planned a special launch somewhere he thought I’d approve!

April 4, 2002 was an evening to remember – with friends and people from the book world toasting my second book and knowing that just outside, proudly standing in all her glory was HMS Victory.

It was a magnificent party at the McCarthy Gallery in the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth. Around 70 friends and guests from the publishing world came from as far afield as the United States and Denmark, as well as all over the UK. The Royal Navy was well represented, with five captains and a commodore present!

One of the highlights of the evening was a special viewing of the original painting by Geoff Hunt RSMA that was commissioned for the cover art of ARTEMIS. You can buy limited edition prints of the covers Geoff painted. (Just as an aside: Artemis is my favourite!)

When you wrote this book how far into the future did you plan?

Edward Pellew, on whom Black Jack Powlett was based

Edward Pellew, on whom Black Jack Powlett was based

I had rough outlines for twelve books – with Kydd’s career progression, type of ship, engagement with the enemy, personal challenges etc. This proved to be very useful as I wrote the series because I was able to follow a chronological order and which many readers have thanked me for! By the way, that original number has now virtually doubled; the more I delved into the riches of the historical record the more plots I’ve been able to come up with.

Are any of the characters based on individuals from your time at sea?

When I first went to sea I met some pretty tough Old Salts. On the surface often really hard men but a number were also quite sentimental and protective of young boy sailors like me. I drew on these memories in creating my characters; some are composites of sailors I’d come across in my time in the Navy, others are creations of my imagination, but based on extensive historical reading and research.

How true to the factual record is this book?

As in all my books, I go to great lengths to stay true to history. The desperate frigate action in ARTEMIS is based on that of Nymphe and Cleopatre. Maillot’s (Mullon’s) gallant act did take place, but in fact it was the captain’s own brother, Israel Pellew, who personally laid and fired the fatal carronade shot that turned the tide.

Kydd has his first sexual encounter of the series in this book. Was it hard to write?

Well, Kydd is a young red-blooded man… and in writing my books I wanted to show not just life at sea but what happened ashore. In ARTEMIS Kydd has several relationships with the female of the species. First, there’s Sarah in Macau – and his torment over deciding whether it would be right or not to marry her. Later, Tamaha comes on the scene… I must admit when I’d written the Macau scene I was a little concerned what my mother-in-law might think! Sadly, she passed away a few years ago but she always loved my books and was one of my greatest fans.

Any particular highlights of your location research?

I had already as a sailor visited the countries mentioned in this book – Philippines, China, Macao – and as well we had lived in the Far East and could call on these memories and photographs of my voyages. The Christmas scene on the beach was inspired by an actual Christmas Kathy and I had on a remote island in the Philippines. I remember the pit roasted pig to this day! And the warm tropical sun, such a contrast to cold Christmases in England.

How did you feel when Bob Squarebriggs presented you with a half model of Artemis.

Canadian reader Bob Squarebriggs presented me with this splendid half model of Artemis

Canadian reader Bob Squarebriggs presented me with this splendid half model of Artemis

Over the years I’ve been very touched by gifts from readers. Bob’s was among the first. He presented a superb half model of Artemis to me on a location research trip to Canada. Bob had got in touch saying he’d love to meet me. I just thought he wanted to say hi, and perhaps have me sign a book. When he arrived at the Lord Nelson hotel in Halifax (the obvious place to stay!) he was carrying a large package. Kathy and I were gobsmacked at what was inside…


Copyright notices
Pellew image: By James Northcote (died 1831) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Every effort is made to honour copyright but if we have inadvertently published an image with missing or incorrect attribution, on being informed of this, we undertake to delete the image or add a correct credit notice

27 Comments on “ARTEMIS: Sailing seven seas

  1. Pingback: KyddFest-2: Artemis | Julian Stockwin

  2. Pingback: Seaflower: Turquoise Waters, Deadly Perils | Julian Stockwin

  3. I started reading the Kydd series of books a couple of years ago and with every one so far I have had to be coaxed to put the book down to go to bed more than one early morning. I find each one both making wish I had been in the Royal navy during that time and very happy that I was not. For they all convey the adventure and the harshness that these sailors experienced. I find each book leaving me eager to start reading the next. It looks like I will be caught up by mid summer this year. Keep up the good work, a devoted fan.

  4. Greetings!
    I find that I read each new Kydd book with a good atlas close at hand. Aside from the entertainment value of your books, they have given me a broader understanding of historical events and the geography that so often influences them. Keep up the good work sir!

    D. Thompson
    Rochester, NY USA

  5. Now reading Seaflower, I could not stop at the end of Artemis. As soon as I read the last page I reached for Seaflower and read the next 2 chapters before I had to put it down. I have made sure I have the next book in the series at all times. Ripping yarn Julian.

    cheers, Mike Fry

  6. Artemis and Seaflower are my favorite Kydd novels, because they do a fantastic job at foreshadowing the development and growth of his character and his career.

  7. Just started your series a short time ago, just finished Seaflower, and waiting for Mutiny via inter-library loan. Enjoying the series very much.
    That’s a very nice half-model. As a clumsy kid in the “40s and 50s, tried model-building with balsa and rice paper, a disaster. Tried again as an adult but results still pretty bad. Now I just sit back and appreciate good ones when I see them.
    Gordon

  8. Just finished Artemis and it was great !! I did not read the books in order; but have finished all 13 novels and wish for more. Any Chance ???

  9. I first picked up Kydd a couple of weeks ago, and I really enjoyed the fresh perspective from the view of the common ratings rather than the officers of the quarterdeck. Thank you!

  10. Julian has created the best series of its kind. His new commentaries has almost made waiting for the next book bearable.

  11. Thoroughly enjoy the series. My only problem is I need to prod my library to purchase each new book in the series. Am pleased to note that you have planned some 20 books for the series. Will any be adapted for the screen?

  12. Really look forward to the Blog comments by Mr. Stockwin. Have the entire series and look forward to each new book. The closeness of the author to his readers is much appreciated. This is more of a personal interaction than a simply commercial endeavour. All the best to the author and his family.

  13. I have a couple of general questions that have come to me whilst reading your books
    1. The opposite side of the ship to Starboard is referred to as Larboard by most Authors in naval fiction. C.S.Forester, however uses ‘Port’ which I’m sure is the modern version of the word. When would this have changed?

    2. Weathergauge and Windgauge are used by different Authors but which is the most accurate for the era?

    3. Many Authors touch briefly on the hands being brought back to the ship in a sorry state after going ashore to ‘kick up Bobs-a-dying’ , drunk and riddled with disease , but, as a lot of the hands were pressed men were they ever given permission to go ashore at home or abroad? I would have thought the risk of desertion too high?

    Thankyou for your time

    • Three questions, Gideon! Well I’ll answer the first two but the third can wait until my blog on pressed men. 1. Early in the 18th C merchant mariners began using ‘port’ but the Royal Navy did not +officially+ abandon ‘larboard’ until 1844. 2. Neither is correct. It’s the weather gage.

    • My reading of fictional naval history started with Dudley Pope,Douglas Reeman,Patrick O’Brian & David Donachie &,now,Kydd!Hooked from the outset,as a grandson of a Trinity House Captain,I can truly say that Jules Stockwin’s books are the most enjoyable,detailed & authentic books that I have ever read.Long may he continue to write further books in this series & enlighten us with more details of the seafaring & historical facts faced by our forebears.
      Bryn Evans

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