Monday, January 23, 2017

Maritime Archaeology

I have always had a curious passion for Maritime Archaeology.  Having grown up on a shipwreck coast I have long been fascinated by all things to do with the sea, especially maritime history.  Living in Western Australia we have many famous shipwreck sites but one of the most famous would have to be the notorious shipwreck of the VOC vessel, the Batavia.
 A ship belonging to the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia shipwrecked on her maiden voyage, hitting a reef near Beacon Island in 1629. A subsequent mutiny resulted in a massacre of the survivors.  While the Captain and a few crew went for help the survivors were stranded on the rocky atoll with Jeronimous Cornelisz in charge.  Cornelisz had been involved with a group of would be mutineers prior to the wreck and fearing they would be rescued and his part in the plot revealed he made a plan to overwhelm the rescuers and steal the boats.  He then set about coercing his few faithful followers into murdering the survivors. They killed 110 people but  a group of soldiers survived and escaped.  When the Captain and the rescue boats arrived Cornelisz and his men failed in their bid to take over the rescue ships and were subsequently tried for their crimes.
Cornelisz and the main mutineers had their hands chopped off and were hung.  Two younger accomplices were marooned on mainland Australia, this being prior to European settlement.  They were never heard of again.  This is just one of many shipwreck stories that have played out along the huge, reefed coastline of Western Australia 

It only seemed natural that a shipwreck should feature in the First Peron Cove Mystery, The Lighthouse Keeper.  The shipwreck in the story is that of a three masted barque called the Ellinor.  Like happened so many times in such cases it was impossible to save the passengers and crew. I wanted the shipwreck to be a catalyst for the events that would unfurl. The remoteness of many shipwrecks also made rescues difficult in the past. 
Western Australia has an amazing Shipwrecks Gallery and inside it you can see the slow and fastidious reconstruction of the reclaimed artefacts of the Batavia.  You can walk above it and under its looming edifice.  There are also the skeletons of some of the victims, painstakingly preserved in glass cases.  It's a somber exhibition but what is overwhelming is remembering that The Dutch East India Company was one of the first multinational companies and its ships bravely charted unknown seas in search of spices.
A little more in depth information can be found by following this link :

Looming Lighthouses

I have always been fascinated by those wondrous beacons, lighthouses. I have lived on the coast all my life and passed by a Lighthouse regularly.  The Western Australian coast is known as the shipwreck coast, the treacherous reefs claiming many victims over years. Many lighthouses dot along the rugged coastline.

I visit lighthouses whenever I travel and so it seemed like the perfect place to set Book One of The Peron Cove mysteries.  Although the lighthouse in the fictional town of Peron Cove is not a real lighthouse, it is based on several Western Australian and Victorian lighthouses I have visited.  The cottage in which one of the main characters, Ben, lives is based on the real Lighthouse Keepers cottages found beside Australian lighthouses. 




I suffer from a weird phobia that has haunted me my entire life. It's called Megalophobia. Basically it's a fear of large and looming objects. Mine seems to be specific to huge ships in the water looming above me and large spouts of water or high fountains. Even as a baby I apparently screamed if a ship was shadowing above me in any way, even in a picture a book, such an image would make me cry. I recall a Disney book with people jumping to the safety of the water, from a burning ship, and being terrified of the image. I also recall an incident as a small child of sitting playing in the shallow water, my back to the sea, and unbeknownst to me a catamaran gliding silently into the shore behind me. I was frozen with fear. Even the scene in the movie Cowboys and Aliens, with the overturned paddle steamer in the desert, made my palms sweet and my heart rate increase.
It seemed natural then to include a scene in the book that explored this fear.  Even writing the scene made me wince in fear at the very thought of it ! 
Here are a few pictures I believe I took with my eyes almost closed ! 

Elixir Book Cover

I created three covers for Elixir.  As I love photography so much I thought it best to take my own photographs for the covers.  The first one I designed was using a snapshot I took in Vegas featuring one of the hotels that is in the novel.  The next one came after one of their fun " down the rabbit hole sessions " where I just follow all sorts of links on the Internet.  I ended reading about the production of penny dreadful and pulp fiction and thought it would be fun to create a cover in that fashion.  
The actual cover was a photograph I took myself.  I love looking at book covers they are always so fascinating and interesting.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Calico Ghost Town

On the way to Vegas from LA there is a ghost town nestled high in the Calico Mountains of San Bernadino County, California. Established in 1881 and purportedly the most lucrative silver mine in California, Calico's population just abandonded the town in the mid 1890s when silver lost its value.
It was named by four prospectors who described a mountain peak they were headed for as "calico coloured".  these prospectors discovered silver and opened the Silver King Mine.

A post office was established as well as the the Calico Print, a weekly newspaper.
With a population reaching 1200 and peaking at around 3500, Calico boasted a Wells Fargo office and a telephone and telegraph office.  When  the value of silver dropped the town was deserted and some of the buildings where moved to other towns like Barstow.   In 1915 there was an attempt to revitalise the town when a cyanide plant was built to recover any unprocessed silver.
Around 1951 Walter Knott, the founder of Knotts Berry farm, purchased the town and reconstructed it using old photographs before gifting it to San Bernadino County in 1966.  

With its mines I thought this was a perfect place to take the vampires when they were not in Vegas.  They have ample deep, dark places to hide.


Las Vegas

I have been to Vegas many times and to me it seemed like the perfect place for vampires to live.  With a wonderous nightlife, a huge transient population and the underground tunnels, used for flooding, traversing below the city, Vegas seems to suit the needs of a vampire perfectly. 

Vampires and Elixir

We can all admit at some time or another to fantasizing about the feel of sharp teeth as they graze tauntingly across the soft skin of our neck, the cold touch of a creature as it teases against our body with a hideous promise in its forbidden caress. Or maybe that's just me !

I have been a most diligent enthusiast of all things otherworldly and so I find the desire to write and share some of these musing brings me to this place. A place inhabited by the entrancing and alluring, the ghastly and those things spoken only of those in whispered tones in the dead of night, the things of myths and legends that lurk teasingly in my peripheral vision.

It was not difficult to decide to write a story about vampires as I have always been fascinated by them.  The undead that lurk in my novel are dangerous and vicious and how I imagine vampires would be.  Come join me in Vegas and discover what Elixir is !




ELIXIR $0.99


"Blood from its earlier feast congealed in rivulets down its neck, caked around its mouth, the bloodied maw revealing sharp teeth as it tilted its face skyward, arms spread in triumph as the sun began to rise, heralding the dawn of a new era for its kind"


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