Friday, December 05, 2014

Home is the Sailor

Home is the Sailor will be released January 1st, 2015. Set in 1802, during the temporary peace that followed the Treaty of Amiens, it follows the voyage of an ex-blockade runner turned West Indies mail packet from London to Kingston. This excerpt sets the stage:

“The need for absolute secrecy ashore means we can only vouch for half the crew. Our Billy Boy, as Barnaby calls him, could have planted a spy as insurance. Everything so far, indicates he’s fallen for the ruse. We don’t want anything to alert him and a spy on board could bring us undone. Guillaume d’Ardenne must not escape to prey on other ships and the destruction of the privateers-turned-pirate is a valuable blow for England before hostilities resume.”

Isabella relaxed back in her chair with a nod and Tristan rose to his feet, a signal for the others to rejoin them. She was aware of two searching examinations of her face, but chose not to respond, her mind racing to adjust to this new situation. She had to admire Nepean’s cunning. The Spritely wouldn’t have been the only one to sail under sealed orders. He’d dispatched at least one frigate to carry the messages and pay chest to the Admiral commanding the West Indies station. The Spritely would draw the pirates north and clear the normal shipping lane to the Caribbean, freeing yet another patrolling frigate. This was no last second plan, but a carefully constructed stratagem with everything taken into account. Her presence onboard would give credence to using the Spritely as the pay chest carrier. Guillaume d’Ardenne would suspect Nepean of being over-clever, because it was how he would have acted in his place, willing to sacrifice anyone to achieve his goal. Barnaby had hinted as much in his description of the man as a modern day Kublai Khan.

The American provided the expertise in getting the best from the Spritely and Tristan was its fighting heart. Nepean had given them the men and the tools to succeed, with Barnaby as his reliable messenger, his friendship with Tristan a plus. She was just window dressing, although Nepean had checked her out to see if she’d be a burden or an asset. It wouldn’t surprise her to learn Nepean knew of her childhood friendship with Tristan. He was a spider, spinning webs of entrapment from his store of knowledge.

Were it not for the threat to her burgeoning love, she might even admire him.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The evolution of a story

A Maritime Tragedy is my first contemporary sea story written entirely since my retirement. All the others had their first drafts written while I was on board various ships over the years. It had its beginnings in my distaste for a genuine tragedy high jacked by a union campaign against cabotage (in this case the transport of cargos between two ports in the same country by foreign registered ships). The misinformation they used irritated me at the time. It was too simplistic and focused entirely on their cause, ignoring the reality behind the sinkings. My first draft was technically accurate, based on the most probable scenario, given the known facts. It introduced the necessary characters and had them play their parts as they would in real life. Its only function now is a skeleton for a story.
One of the characters stepped forward in my mind as someone I might have known and his story became the real Maritime Tragedy. A good man, he does his best, but external circumstances overwhelm him in the end.
It happens.
I look forward to seeing this one published because it involves me enough that I am writing the ending reluctantly, even if the underlying love story endures.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Downsizing has arrived

From this

to this
After thirty-five years in a house on a quarter-acre block we are moving to a stand-alone unit on a block one third the size. From four bedrooms plus a fully self-contained bungalow to three, much smaller, bedrooms.
It will be much easier for us to manage and leave more time for my writing.
There is no doubt that we will miss many things about the old house, but the new one suits our needs so much better.

Sunday, March 23, 2014


"Coasting" didn't win an EPIC award, but that's all right. It made it to the finals and perhaps "The Sapphire Sea" will do better next year.
We've survived the first open inspection of our home and looked at possible replacements without success. Building standards have changed over the fifty years since our home was built, the rooms are impossibly small and the whole thing is built with an eye to cost rather than quality.
I sound like an old man, but that's all right too, because I am.
It's about time I claimed the privilege's of age. I've become far too aware of the downsides this past year of illness.
All that aside, I'm deep in research for the beginnings of the Caribbean Odyssey begun with "Home is the Sailor". My immediate source is a book I bought in a second hand book store in my early teens. First published in 1927, it is a biography of Sir Francis Drake. Written in a very scholarly fashion by an E.F.Benson, it was an immediate favourite of mine because of its dry humour. The fact that it was undoubtedly cheap helped at the time.
Benson quotes many contemporary sources and suggests compromises where they conflict, always based on his assessment of the characters involved. I can remember laughing out loud at some of his conclusions when I was young and they are just as amusing now. This is not to challenge their probable rightness but to appreciate the wit with which they were expressed. I would have enjoyed sitting in a pub with Benson and talking about Drake, adding my seaman's insights to his scholastic knowledge.
A brief experimentation with the Cornish dialect and I've fallen back on hinting at it while writing the dialogue in modern English like the rest of the book. This is the part of writing I enjoy most, the broad outline of the story is clear in my mind and I'm just building the details into it.
Bon voyage!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A very good year!

The downsizing is in full swing, photographs, brochures, for sale board and open inspection of our home (we have to go for a walk for half an hour while strangers walk through our home opening cupboards etc.)
All that aside, the announcement of the winners in the EPIC Awards is less than twenty-four hours away and Coasting is in with a chance. The recognition of your writing by writing peers is very sweet.
The Sapphire Sea is a Rone Award nominee! Another plaudit from my writing peers. It still has a long way to go, with public voting in the Contemporary group open from March 17th - 23rd. If you'd like to look at the field and perhaps vote, the link is:
Here are the two books and you can read their reviews at

David Andrews
Ancient Mariner - Teller of Tall Tales

Sunday, March 02, 2014


A made up word for a process connected to aging.
We've lived in our present home for thirty-five years. It's comfortable, familiar and we've adapted to it completely, but a year of illness (first one, then the other) has shown us that the garden we love is beyond our physical abilities to maintain and do all the other things we do for ourselves and our children. It made the decision for us.
The first step was de-cluttering our home and its environment and that took a four cubic metre dumpster, a two cubic metre hard rubbish collection and a multitude of visits to the Salvation Army Thrift shop.
Then came the interviews with Real Estate Agents, assisted by a son-in-law with more experience in Real Estate than either of us. Private Sale or Auction? Which Real Estate Agent? How much commission? How to market the property? Open Inspections?
 Yesterday we signed an exclusive sale authority with the agent we chose and last night my mind would not shut down, re-examining the process over and over. Eventually exhaustion took charge and I slept.
This morning I woke, bleary-eyed and grumpy and She, who must be obeyed reminded me of something I've said so often to others, "What's done is done. Get on with it!"
A laudable sentiment that is a little harder to act upon at seventy-six.
I shall try.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A new start

A new title, a new background picture and me under my real name. Amy has served her purpose for the moment, introducing me to eleven different editors and six publishers. Writing under her name allowed me to polish my craft to the point where I could do justice to the stories I wanted to tell about ships and men as I knew them in my forty-five years in the maritime industry.
The background picture, taken from the bridge of a ship called the Selkirk Settler looks dangerous, but it isn't. The most interesting thing about it is how far the hull has flexed under the impact of the wave. Follow the lines of the deck visible aft and you will see how far the stubby foremast on the fo'csle has shifted to the right of the center-line. The mast is almost 150 metres (500 feet) from the bridge and has moved 4-5 metres off the center-line. It is not an abnormal flexing of a ship this size.

What's happening now?

The Sapphire Sea was released in November, 2013, and has already garnered eleven reviews on its Amazon page. Most of them are four stars and above and even the one at three stars praised the story-telling.
Coasting is a finalist in the 2014 EPIC competition and the winner will be announced on March 15th.
I have signed two contracts with Eternal Press:
Home is the Sailor is set during the brief peace that followed the signing of the Treaty of Amiens  in 1802 and follows the voyage of an ex-blockade runner from London to Jamaica as it runs the gauntlet of privateers turned pirate and the machinations of Evan Nepean, Fouche` and Tallyrand; and
Timor Phoenix, which follows the operation of a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility in the Timor Sea in 1999. It is fiction firmly based on my own experience.
There is no cover art or release date for either book yet.
I am working on another sea story set around the Ships of Shame campaign in the mid 1980s, following the loss of a number of aging bulk carriers with cargoes of iron ore around the east coast of southern Africa. Unfortunately, this is on hold for a while as we downsize our home of the last thirty-five years to something more manageable for a couple in their mid seventies.

David Andrews
Ancient Mariner - Teller of Tall Tales