Off to sea once more…

Say what you like about t’internet, it gets me off my arse. Only a few weeks ago I was contacted by an ebook publisher I’d never heard of – well you wouldn’t have, would you? – and asked if I might like to let them publish a book or two. They’d read my stuff (some, not all – I’ve written so much over the years) and wanted to know if they could do my historical naval series. This is a run of four books featuring a man called William Bentley, who is more or less everything the usual fictional naval heroes aren’t. He’s brave all right, but in the first book, A Fine Boy for Killing, he’s a trainee sadist and an absolute bastard. Throughout the series he grows, but life doesn’t get any more romantic, and even the woman he falls in love with is an archetypal eighteenth century economic prostitute. As was Emma Hart, of course, the penniless Wirral girl who finally made it to being Lady Hamilton.

And died a destitute alcoholic in a Calais gutter.

So no, I said, I’m in the process of getting them ready to be ebooks myself, or rather my son Matti Gardner is. No worries, they cried – write us a novella in the same era. We love novellas, and they can cross fertilise each other.

It seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so I got off me arse (see above). I wrote the book, The Devil’s Luck in double-quick time, and now, before your very eyes, it’s out on Amazon at £2.99. The publisher, Endeavour Press, have now asked for a series based around the life of Nelson – a subject I’ve been steeped in since I was a kid in Portsmouth. I’m starting soon!

Endeavour also did Death Order which I wrote about in my last blog – see below. By one of those remarkable coincidences, the Rudolf Hess mystery, which has been dormant for a few years, burst back into public view at exactly the same time, with stories in the Huffington Post, the Independent, and even the Daily Mail. The book has been selling like the proverbial hot cakes – and at £2.99 is actually cheaper than most hot cakes a baker sells these days.

It has had fantastic reviews, as well, and is now getting them on Amazon, as you can see by clicking on the link above. And the great Hess mystery just goes on getting more and more mysterious. I ain’t complaining!

The Devil’s Luck, though, is something or a new departure for me. It’s set about twenty years earlier than A Fine Boy for Killing (which I’m hoping will be out in a couple of weeks) and only one of the characters appears in the later book. That is Daniel Swift, who is the captain of the Welfare in A Fine Boy, and an utter brute. In the new book, though, he is a young lieutenant, and his character is neither fully lost nor fully formed. I can hardly wait to see how he develops.

The hero is a younger sailor called Charlie Raven. He falls foul of Captain Hector Maxwell, who considers him to be a coward, and decides to break him. It’s a fast-moving story, featuring a chase by open boats across the English Channel. ‘From Ushant to Scilly is Thirty Five Leagues.’ And it’s hell.

Thank God the sailing season’s almost over so that I can work without regret! Please God keep the piles at bay…