Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Real Red Wedding

A fun part of writing historical fiction is that I get to read a lot of history. I go to some lengths to get the history accurate. Once a book’s plot is set, I start delving into the locations. For example, for my current book The King’s Galley, what did Seville, Barcelona, Algiers, and Naples look and feel like in 1523? I never know what I might find.

Researching Naples, I immediately realized the formidable thirteenth century Castel Nuovo deserved a major role in my book. Studying the plans of the castle, I discovered the Hall of the Barons. Hmm. What’s that? Did the local barons meet there?

No. The name comes for an infamous red wedding rivalling that in George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. The wedding was in 1487, thirty-six years before my book. The niece of King Ferrante of Naples was to marry the son of one of the local barons. The people welcomed this. Hopefully, it would end the decade’s long feud between Ferrante and the barons. Only thing was, while Ferrante wanted to end the feud, he wanted to do it on his terms. Once the guests were in, guards locked the doors, and the barons, their sons, and the groom ended up in Ferrante’s dungeons. He executed the lucky ones, while the unlucky ones were drawn and quartered. The feud was over.

Did Martin use this wedding as inspiration? I don’t think so. His story seems more rooted in Irish and Scottish history. But the real red wedding in the Hall of the Barons rivals the fictional one!

Leave a comment

Filed under The King's Galley, Uncategorized

Magellan’s Fleet is about to Sail (Five Hundred Years Ago.)

Magellan_1810_engravingJune, 1519. Final preparations are underway for the sailing of Magellan’s fleet to find a route to the Molucca Islands, the sole source of cloves in the world. Over a year earlier, on March 22, 1518, the Portuguese Magellan signed an agreement with young King Charles of Spain to pioneer the route. Five ships purchased in Cádiz were towed up river to Seville, and there fully refurbished. Francisco Albo, first mate of the flagship Trinidad, works by Magellan’s side on the myriad of details necessary for a successful expedition.

Things haven’t gone smoothly. Officials of the Casa de Contratación de las Indies, which oversees Magellan’s expedition, spend as much time on their own illicit dealings as readying and provisioning the fleet. Nonetheless, Magellan is only months away from sailing. Manning the fleet is a special concern. Portuguese/Spanish rivalry has led to severe restrictions on the number of Portuguese on the fleet. Cliques within the Casa want it manned by Spaniards, but recruiting Spanish sailors isn’t easy. The plague has produced manpower shortages in Spain, and with the discoveries of gold in the New World, it’s more attractive to sign on to sail there than on some unknown route to a place a sailor has never heard of and under command of a foreigner. As a result, Magellan’s fleet will sail with a dysphoria from across Europe, including men from Norway, England, France, and Greece as well as a host of Italians.

More ominously, jockeying for the fleet’s final command posts is in process. Magellan ends up saddled with several mistrustful Spanish captains with no sea experience. That sets the stage for next year’s mutiny in Patagonia and later dire consequences.

Leave a comment

Filed under Magellan, Magellan's Navigator, Uncategorized

Magellan’s Navigator’s Sequel is Coming!

I can safely say that the sequel to Magellan’s Navigator will be out before George R.R. Martin’s The Winds of War. Okay. I know that isn’t saying much. Let me rephrase that. I believe the sequel to Magellan’s Navigator will be out this year. Half of it is written and in good shape, while all of it is plotted.

Briefly, the sequel is Master and Commander on a galley in 1523. Albo becomes master and pilot on the Spanish galley Cruz de Barcelona. He battles, as usual, the sea, but also the corsairs of the infamous Barbary pirate Barbarossa. Actually, Barbarossa wasn’t a pirate or from Barbary, but that is part of the story. A blonde countess enlivens Albo’s life while the implacable hatred of his captain for the Moors complicates things.

My attempt to understand early sixteenth century galleys slowed progress on the book. There is no definitive source of exactly what a Spanish galley looked like at this time. There is a replica galley in Barcelona’s Maritime Museum of the flagship galley at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. Unfortunately, this huge ship is not representative of galleys fifty years earlier or even in 1571. There are detailed plans of Venetian galleys. In the end, I assumed Spanish galleys were somewhat larger, more heavily armed, but less agile.

I’m hoping fans will enjoy reading it as much as I am writing it.

My working title is The King’s Galley, but I’m open to suggestions. I thought of Master and Pilot for about five seconds until I realized that was probably too close to Master and Commander.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Magellan's Navigator, Uncategorized

Mindfield and Mindgames Are Available!

mf cover 072018 PM1215 kindle flattenedMindgames cover kindle 072018 PM0115

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoying writing them over the past several years.

Here’s brief blurb on Mindfield:

Orphaned at age nine when the alien Harn kill his parents, Cam is driven by an all-consuming need for revenge. Vengeance requires more than bravado. He works hard to become a crack C-fighter and develop tactics to defeat the wily Harn. His opportunity comes when he leads his squadron in  the assault to take the Altos system from the Harn. He gets his revenge, but at a terrible price. His friends and lover are killed, and he’s marooned on a fragment of a Harn orbital. There he discovers there may be more to these aliens and the war than he has been told.  His elation upon his rescue is short-lived, and he’s propelled into a desperate quest for the truth about the Harn, his people, and himself.

Mindfield is space opera with a twist of Blade Runner.

Mindgames follows directly upon the events of Mindfield.

Mardi Rall and Cam are mismatched lovers. She is a Lieutenant Commander for the exiled Hartner regime. Cam is a genetically engineered ‘tuber’ fighter pilot with the NorAm government that helped overthrow Hartner. After the exodus of Hartner’s forces from Earth, Mardi and Cam are light years apart, and each are uncertain of the other’s feelings for them.

Disillusioned by the Hartner regime’s corruption, Mardi joins a plot to overthrow it. Hartner’s ouster will correct many wrongs, but if the coup fails, her fate is, at best, a summary execution.

Meanwhile, the alien Harn request Cam’s presence at a summit with the NorAm government. The Harn claim a warlike species called the Synnax will soon attack Earth. Humankind’s existence is at stake, but why have the Harn offered this warning and what do they want in return? And why do they insist Cam, and Mardi, attend the negotiations?

Mardi and Cam see a chance for reunion. Before that happens, they find themselves in the midst of a power struggle between the Harn, Hartner, and NorAm with the lives of millions, including their own, at risk.

For Mindfield in ebook, paperback, or Kindle Unlimited click: https://amzn.to/2BEq2VO

For Mindgames click: https://amzn.to/2wly6EO

Leave a comment

Filed under Mindfield, Mindgames, Uncategorized

Fact and fiction in Magellan’s Navigator

Magellan’s Navigator sticks closely to the known facts of Magellan’s voyage. The dates are accurate. Every person named, with one exception, did have a part in the first circumnavigation of the world. There was a master gunner named Andrew who was from Bristol and who died of scurvy soon after leaving Guam. However, Andrew’s wife, Ana Estrada is my invention. On the other hand, Fidelia was Ginés’s wife and believing he was lost, she did remarry before he finally returned.

I used Albo’s logbook to fix the time and place of the fleet during its voyage. Antonio Pigafetta’s Report on the First Voyage Around the World gave me an eyewitness report of the people he met and the places he saw. My descriptions of the rajahs Humabon and Almanzor are from Pigafetta’s book. Also borrowed from Pigafetta are the lengthy lists of gifts to the rajahs. I am indebted to the late Tim Joyner for his book Magellan. His meticulously researched book uses Spanish and Portuguese sources, unlike many other books about Magellan. His fleet rosters are by far the most complete I’ve seen.

So what is fiction? I really don’t know because the events as told in Magellan’s Navigator are both plausible and possible. Historical sources contradict one another about the details of some events, like the mutiny. For example, while my explanation of the San Antonio’s capture during the mutiny can’t be proved, it also can’t be disproved. It is known that for some reason one of the mutineer ships floated helplessly to Magellan’s ships, and Albo could very well have been responsible for that happening.

I did have to simplify things by focusing on a limited number of crewmembers. I did that after early drafts thoroughly confused readers when I included all Albo’s shipmates. I apologize to Leone Pancaldo and the others who deserved to be mentioned, but had to be excised from the story for readability.

One issue I’d like to address is Albo’s ethnicity. Wikipedia lists Albo as being from Rodas, Spain. This is questionable. The Spanish roster simply lists Albo as being from Rodas with a birthplace of Axio. This is consistent with my having Albo being born in Thessaloniki on the Axios River in Greece, and his being most recently from Rhodes (Rodas.)  Roses is evidently an alternative spelling of Rodas. There is a small port of Roses in Catalonia, but I see no associated place name of Axios, which argues against Albo from being there. Andre Rossfelder’s In Pursuit of Longitude  makes the argument that Albo was from Roses, but concedes  he does not know whether Albo was Greek or Spanish. Numerous Portuguese and Spanish historians over the centuries have called Albo a Greek, so I went with the preponderance of opinion. In addition, S.E. Morison in his The European Discovery of America, the Southern Voyages cites a source that claims a survivor of the circumnavigation sailed with Piri Reis, the Ottoman admiral. We know what happened to most of the survivors afterward, except for Albo, who disappears from history. His being from Greece is consistent to his returning to the eastern Mediterranean and working with Piri Reis.

I hope you enjoy Magellan’s Navigator. It is available in print and paperback on Amazon. Just click the photo above.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art and Craft of Writing, Magellan's Navigator, Uncategorized

Genius, a movie about Maxwell Perkins and Wolfe

Genius, a movie about the great editor Maxwell Perkins (think Fitzgerald, Hemingway and more) and Thomas Wolfe is coming out. That will be a must see for me. If such things interest you, the following link will be of interest.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/interviews/article/70466-four-questions-for-max-perkins-biographer-a-scott-berg.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=2edddcb834-UA-15906914-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-2edddcb834-304609113

Leave a comment

Filed under Art and Craft of Writing, Book and Movie Reviews, Uncategorized

The Serious Side of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Painter of Battles

Tina Fey is my favorite comedic actress of this era, and she does a superb job in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. There is, however, a serious side to virtually every laugh in the movie. The unintended results of the press are an important part of the film. Like the uncertainty principle, where the act of observing affects ‘reality,’ the act of reporting, especially reporting war, can affect the lives of all involved. I can’t say more without giving out spoilers.

These issues are at the heart of Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Painter of Battles. I’m a huge fan of Perez-Reverte. He’s mostly an author of historical fiction including his Captain Alatriste series and The Fencing Master. His contemporary The Dumas Club was made into a The Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp. These are all fast paced, tightly plotted books.

Perez-Reverte was a war correspondent, like the Tina Fey character in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, before becoming an author. The Painter of Battles appears to be his attempt to deal with the atrocities and cruelty of man against man he encountered in his journalistic career. It is a very philosophical novel, and quite different from his other works.

The protagonist, the painter of battles, was a war photojournalist for over thirty years. He has abandoned this profession and, when we first meet him, is painting a mural of battles in a tower on the Spanish coast. One day a former Croatian soldier arrives at the tower, and announces that he is going to kill the painter of battles, although first the visitor wants to talk. A series of philosophical discussions then ensues about war, journalism, mankind, and what drove these two men to this destiny. It would seem Perez-Reverte is processing specters haunting him from his years as a war correspondent.

The Painter of Battles was at times too verbose for me, and it wasn’t my most enjoyable read of the past year. However, I’ve certainly thought more about this book after finishing it than any other I’ve recently read.

2 Comments

Filed under Book and Movie Reviews, Uncategorized