Hi Andrew! Tell us a little bit about why you chose the English/Summer Isles as your Nation!
I divide my time between Spain and England in real life, so my original idea was to do the same in my contribution to the Archipelago: my first episode was to be a hot-pursuit across the Caribbean, with a Spanish pirate vessel on the run from the English navy. But the early drafts split the focus between the two sides and the story kept expanding beyond what would make for a comfortable online read, so I started over with a more one-sided focus.
I like living in Spain a lot, but I'd be lying if I said I was the right person to try and represent a crew of 17th Century Spaniards. I've been here for almost ten years off and on, but my spoken Spanish is still terrible! So I decided to fan the dying flames of my Patriotic Spirit and concentrate on the English side, at least until I was able to leave this world behind and flee to another one. And the temptation to get all political about the Brexit now looms over the conversation, so I'm going to button my lip...
Your Archipelago stories are reminiscent of Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander books. How did you learn so much about 17th century naval life?
Well, I read the first couple of novels in Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin series and copied-- ah, it seems my secret is out!
When it comes to writing I enjoy trying my hand at different subjects, so my fiction tends to jump from one thing to another. Usually, my approach when I find a new theme is to do some broad research to get in the general mood while I'm thinking about potential stories, and then just dive in with my own perspective. Fortunately there is plenty of cinematic inspiration to balance out the zero number of hours I've spent splicing main braces and the like, and there's a typical wealth of information online from historic sources and modern-day experts and amateurs alike to delve into.
After we decided to collaborate on a swashbuckling project I did read Master and Commander and Post Captain, partly because that's the kind of research I really like doing, and partly because a friend has been singing the praises of the entire series for as long as I've known him. He's completely right, they're both excellent. I'm looking forward to sinking into all the rest, this time just for pleasure.
How about personal experience? Tell us about the last time you were at sea.
I think the last time I was whale-watching in the Mediterranean. I really like being on the ocean and I've never been seasick. I once took an overnight ferry from the UK to Europe in fairly rough seas, but I was more concerned about finding a comfortable place to read (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, as it happens). I found a surprisingly spacious storage closet with a permanent light, made a nest out of courtesy blankets and settled in for the crossing. Gave an unfortunate steward a bit of a fright when he opened the door to collect some of MY bedding.
Tell us about some of the other alt-history stories you have written!
I like the genre a lot, and I've tried my hand at it a few times. Charlotte, Kurt and I have all participated in SFFWorld.com 's annual anthology series, and I wrote an alternate post-World War One story, "The Foundation," for the third volume, Wars to End All Wars . It's about an educated labourer, working on a monument for a conflict his culture barely remembers, who begins dreaming about traumatic events he can't identify. It's also available here alongside another historical horror story of mine.
That portal seems pretty dangerous. Would you go through?
I'd sooner ride a water-slide razor blade.
Well. Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time with us this week!
Next week we will debut Kurt Hunt's Archipelago story, "Whatsoever Is New." Watch this space for it, an interview with Kurt, and more! And, of course, make sure you subscribe to this Patreon by pledging to one of our tiers. For only $1/month you will continue to get 3 Archipelago adventures a month!