INVASION: glory and adventure
A regular feature looking back on each of the Kydd titles – with story background, research highlights, writing challenges and more.
Thank you for all your kind comments on the post about my ninth book, TREACHERY.
The tenth book in the Kydd series is INVASION. Kydd finds himself centrally involved in the activities to counter the fearsome invason plans of Napoleon Bonaparte. This book was somewhat of a milestone in my literary career: my 10th book in print – one million unique words out there!
Real-life charactersIn doing research on historical people I’ve been fascinated by what has been discovered by modern scholarship – but at times what we don’t know about some of these personalities is more intriguing! Robert Fulton, the maverick American inventor, who appears in this book, is a good example of this. There are several biographies of Fulton which I consulted extensively but he was one of those figures whose persona generates more questions the deeper you dig.
Fulton’s nickname of ‘Toot’ was widely used but I can find no definitive reason for it. Some have suggested it derives from the whistle of the steamboat for which he’s known, but his nickname was certainly used before this time. Fulton was very gifted but difficult to penetrate as a person, naïve but intense. A Maryland farm boy, he came to England by invitation, and for a time lived as a portrait painter in Devon.He reached the status of having his work hung at the Royal Academy so he was no amateur, but then went across to revolutionary France, and extraordinarily, for no particular reason I could discover, within a year he was working on his incredible submersibles. It’s on record that he actually met Bonaparte face to face and demonstrated a working submarine, the first Nautilus. It lurked on the bed of the Seine for an hour to the horror of the assembled dignitaries; Fulton later took it out on several armed war patrols against the British. He destroyed it when the French delayed in making a commercial arrangement along the lines I spell out in the book.
Fulton’s proposed machines were the first weapons of mass destruction – deliberately designed to blow up humans without warning or a chance to fight back and caused as much stir then as WMD does today.
Other characters in this book may seem at first reading to be the product of a vivid imagination but there really was a mysterious ‘Mr Smith’ who detached Fulton from Napoleon to transfer his allegiance to England. There is very little known on this episode so I took what I felt was likely to have occurred, and put Renzi in Smith’s place. Likewise, the famed Parisian savant, LaPlace, was indeed a friend of Fulton’s…
I enjoy Jane Austen’s works and it was on a literary whim that I decided to mention her in INVASION, via her brother who actually was in post there at the time. She had two sailor brothers; Francis, who Kydd meets in the course of his acquaintance with the Fencibles, and Charles. Both later advanced to become admirals and Jane no doubt consulted them when she created William Price in Mansfield Park and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion.
Location ResearchThis book took us to southeast England, to the picturesque county of Kent, where I was given virtually unlimited access to Dover Castle (Fulton’s base while working on his inventions) and Walmer Castle (where Pitt lived and used as a secretariat for his secret operations against the French).
The book’s publishing journey
December 1, 2008
I pressed the Send Email button then sat down with Kathy for our traditional glass-raising ceremony to toast completion of a book… Within milliseconds the file arrived at my editor Anne Clarke’s computer via a high-speed broadband connection between Ivybridge, Devon and London.
Anne had recently become my new editor at Hodder: ‘When I took over as Julian Stockwin’s editor I felt honoured and not a little nervous about working on such a highly regarded and well-loved series. I needn’t have worried – when I read the manuscript for INVASION I was delighted to find I could almost send it straight to the printers, as it was pacy, compelling, extremely well structured, and full of as much adventure as I could wish; there was really very little editing for me to do! INVASION is a wonderful historical novel and in reading it you get swept away into the lives of Kydd and Renzi and the excitement and drama of fighting Napoleon on the high seas. I loved the direction Kydd was taking, and looked forward to many more adventures to come.’
February 12, 2009
Anne sent minor editorial queries to me. I responded to her questions, making changes to the manuscript.
March 1, 2009
The next person in the publishing chain was freelance copy editor Hazel Orme: ‘I’ve had the good fortune to work on all of Julian’s Kydd series – every one a winner – and look forward as soon as I’ve finished one to meeting up again with Kydd and Renzi in the next. They’re old friends now. With each novel I’ve noticed there’s less and less for me to do – I iron out the odd awkwardness, question the occasional inconsistency, spot-check Julian’s impeccable research and adjust punctuation, but principally I sit back and enjoy what is always a ripping yarn. Julian wears his scholarship lightly – but with each novel I learn something new. What did I think of INVASION – suspenseful, gripping – another great yarn from an author whose understanding of the world’s oceans and shipping shines through all of his work. More!’
The manuscript with Hazel’s queries was sent back to me.
I returned the corrected manuscript to Anne Clarke.
The manuscript continued its journey and passed to Palimpsest. Located in Grangemouth, Scotland, Palimpsest is the largest supplier of typesetting in the UK.
Palimpsest’s Craig Morrison: ‘Having booked in the title noting the production schedule dates, the first part of the process was to create a clean electronic text. The design specification was as per TREACHERY, the previous book in the Kydd series, and this was used as a reference for styling and tagging. The clean, tagged Word file was then ready for typesetting.
Once the systems operator was happy with the layout and the publisher had approved the page count, a full proof of the text was produced for our in-house proofreader to check. Then hard copy printouts and a digital proof was sent back to Hodder for forwarding to the author and Hodder’s proofreader.’
Upon receipt of a marked proof incorporating editor, author and proofreader corrections the text was amended by Palimpsest and a revised proof sent for approval. Upon signoff from the publisher a final press-ready digital file was created for the printer.
Anne Clarke met with Hodder’s inhouse designer to discuss the jacket design. Hodder had decided to take the covers in a new direction after researching the market and concluding that the books would appeal to a wider readership if they changed the jackets to reflect modern taste. Freelance designer Larry Rostant was commissioned to produce the visual and then Hodder’s designer added the title, blurb etc. in-house.
Trucks arrived to pick up the first pallet loads of INVASION for delivery to Hodder’s distribution unit, Bookpoint, 181 miles away. There, the books were loaded into computer-controlled storage areas for ‘picking’ when the orders from bookstores rolled in.
The INVASION publicity campaign ramped up. Press releases and early review copies of the book were sent out.
INVASION arrived at the booksellers, its long journey from my little study in Ivybridge to bound book in the shops complete!
Fulton image: By Circle of Thomas Sully (American, 1783-1872) (Christie’s) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; diagram: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
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