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?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?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.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…
Pellew image: By James Northcote (died 1831) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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