‘For Want of a Shilling’

The mysterious Russian invasion hoax that shook colonial New Zealand. 

I can’t begin to explain the amount of research that went into writing this novel. I was fortunate to have access to original documents, I consulted with experts and crawled through the dark depths of an old ship with a flashlight to verify facts. There were times I had to remind myself this wasn’t a non-fiction history book, but a work of fiction,

‘For Want of a Shilling’ is fiction, but again, fiction woven around real and little known historical facts. Who knew the Russians wanted to invade New Zealand? The New Zealand government did and they did something about it.

For Want of a Shilling will be released in hard and soft cover print formats, along with digital ebook formats. Want to know more? February 1st, 2018

More details on my site  www,paulwfeenstra.com

 

Faults, Fallacies & Foibles

As historical fiction novelists, we try extremely hard to portray the past as it was, if we can’t, then certainly we represent history the way we believed it to be. Frequently avid readers will contact us and point out with some glee, a glaring inaccuracy in our latest published masterpiece.

I was contacted by a reader who insisted it wasn’t possible for crickets to have existed in the location and time frame that I had detailed. As he considered himself an expert, I was immediately struck by his insistence and persuasiveness. (btw, I had researched this.) I quickly double-checked and found I was correct, the so-called expert was wrong. Had me breathing hard for a moment.

The Tory

In another story, I wrote of a ship entering a bay at a particular time and place. When I was proofreading and tweaking the near completed novel, it occurred to me I was making a rather large assumption. After some quick research I discovered it wasn’t physically possible for this ship to have entered the bay at the time I stated and would have likely have run aground. As I knew the draft of the ship, I quickly checked tides and made a considerable alteration to the time of the story. It required considerable work on my part. Another valuable lesson learned.

Occasionally errors are introduced to the story, sometimes to advance the plot – it suits us and we do it deliberately. I always try to fess-up to these in the author’s notes at the end of the book. Then again, sometimes we get it wrong and aren’t aware of our error. Even our trusted editor missed it. When a book is well researched, and the author is deemed credible, then simple mistakes are often overlooked.

I’m sure many historical fiction authors have similar tales of mistakes.

But then again, we are writing fiction.

Researching ‘Into the Shade’

Few books I have written have required such in-depth research as ‘Into the Shade’. This is where historical fiction comes into its own and as an author something I take immense pride and pleasure in doing.

Chubasco at
Chubasco prior to refit.

‘Into the Shade’ is set in 1914, immediately prior to WWI and features a segment on a 73-foot yawl. For non-sailing people, this is a sailboat with two masts and a rudder post forward of the rear mast. In my story, the sailboat is called Mana, and is loosely based on a very real boat called Chubasco.

 

 

Convenient for me, Chubasco is undergoing a massive re-fit, and parts of her that hadn’t seen daylight in almost 80 years were being replaced. I took the opportunity to study Chubasco during various stages of this lengthy and expensive process and was very fortunate to talk to the craftsman performing the work. It isn’t every day you see a wooden-hulled classic boat receiving this kind of attention.

Chubasco in shipyard
In the shipyard with her insides exposed.

Today the last plank or ‘Whiskey Plank’, was attached to the hull, and true to nautical tradition it was deemed a special occasion and an excuse to celebrate with a shot of whiskey. The last plank even has ‘Whiskey Plank’ stencilled across it, although only visible for a short time before the hull is sanded and painted.

Whiskey Plank
The last plank in place and time to celebrate.

New Release – ‘Falls Ende – The Oath’

I’m thrilled to announce the release of my latest book, ‘Falls Ende – The Oath’. This is an extraordinary story that will appeal to everyone. At present, it is only available on Amazon Kindle but will be forthcoming on Kobo and Nook platforms within a few days. It is my intention for ‘Falls Ende’ to become a series, and ‘The Oath’ is book one. I hope you enjoy.

The cover artwork was painted for me by the wonderful and very talented Erika Husselmann, please check out her website, http://erikahusselmann.blogspot.com  My dear friend Chris Largent was the graphic designer and put it all together, I am very proud of the work they both did for me.

Synopsis


The year 1157. The small picturesque hamlet of Mellester in Devonshire, England, is home to herdsman, Godwin Read and his son, Odo. When the ageing knight, Sir William Ainsley, Lord of Mellester Manor goes on a hunt for wild boar, the inexplicable happens, and Godwin makes a decision that will ultimately impact their lives and Mellester Manor forever.

Ten years later Herdsman Odo is happy, in love and about to realise his lifelong dream when suddenly everything goes awry and his life is in turmoil. Sir Wystan, Sir William’s only son and heir, is now Lord of Mellester Manor and intends to exact revenge on Herdsman Odo by seizing everything he possesses and even by taking his life.

While managing some of the king’s affairs in his absence, Sir Hyde Fortescue, a powerful lord of a neighbouring manor discovers all is not well at Mellester. On behalf of the King, he must act quickly and serve justice.

Can Sir Wystan regain what was most precious to him, or will Falls Ende see his ultimate downfall and disgrace? For Odo, there is more at stake than just his dignity because that’s already been taken, all he has left is teetering on the edge.Falls Ende - The Oath

Digging Deep and Finding the Gem

I was recently asked by author and blogger, Mary Tod, to ‘Guest Blog’ on her website, A Writer of History, about research.

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I’ve frequently said, “History is about the untold story, and writing historical fiction is a wonderful way to present the past in a compelling and entertaining way.” The caveat is to find that hidden gem which can develop an idea, and through research, morph into a story.

And I’ve found a few. A curious mind helps, and access to historical records is a must, as evidenced when I wrote my first published novel.

During the early stages of my research, I was poring over the manifest of the English ship ‘Tory’. This ship was used to transport the principal agent of the New Zealand Company, William Wakefield, and his associates, to New Zealand, for the express purpose of acquiring land from Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. The Tory’s manifest listed a passenger named Nayati, and his occupation as, interpreter. Very innocuous and nothing peculiar about that. Other related historical documents I found refer to the names Nayti, Neti, Nahiti and Naiti. I made the presumption they all refer to the same person and he was probably named Ngaiti. Phonetically, the names sound very comparable, and it was unlikely many Māori were in England in 1839 with similar misspelled names. Continue reading “Digging Deep and Finding the Gem”