It’s all coming back to me now…

C.E. Grundler

…In bits and pieces, I mean.

A little while back my father mentioned that he’d come across my old sailing dinghy, or at least what was left of it. It wasn’t pretty, he admitted. The boat was history.


I suppose it stood to reason. It had to be somewhere around 35 years old, and constructed as if a Sunfish and an Igloo ice chest had a few too many drinks together and couldn’t recall the rest of the night. In the time I’d had it, I’d done my best to bring it up to Laser level performance, which included a tiller extension, a hiking rig, and what ever other odd modifications my allowance could afford. The snottier the weather, the more fun it was to sail, which I’m certain left my parents with their share of grey hairs.

Years ago I’d passed the little boat along to some family friends in Maine with two younger children who wanted to sail, letting go of a chunk of my own childhood in the process. I had bigger boats, and the little orange-sailed vessel had been gathering dust for years. The boat had given me countless wonderful memories and taught me much about independence and self-reliance, even if it was on a 11 foot scale. It was someone else’s turn; it was doing no one any good tucked away in storage, so off it went. From time to time I’d wondered what ever became of it, and the older I got, the more complicated my boats and their accompanying work grew, the more fondly I recalled the simple happiness of sailing that little boat. So I’ve promised myself once the mothership is complete, I’ll be turning my attention to that little Puffin, restoring that dinghy and bestowing her with a proper sailing rig. All I needed was some fiberglass and resin, (got plenty,)free time, (insert maniacal giggles here,) a halfway decent centerboard, rudder, mast and sail.

Well, I’m a little closer to that end now, at least on all aspects except a sail and that issue of free time. It seems that my father, who happened to be in Maine, heard that what remained of the boat was going to be carted away as scrap. He told me he wasn’t sure whether I’d be upset or delighted, but he collected up what you see pictured here, including the spars (not pictured here,) the now shredded sail, and mast step, which he removed as a unit via chainsaw.

While I’ll admit it’s strange to see my first boat reduced to a basket case, and while I had planned on creating a new centerboard and rudder for the Puffin, the idea of using these old parts makes me smile. It’s as though I’ve gone full circle.

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Word of Mouth

Blood Island

The saying goes Don’t judge a book by its cover. Of course, we all do. It’s one of the ways books sell. Readers also tend to buy what’s familiar. But there’s another powerful force in selling books and that’s the strength of word-of-mouth recommendations.

We’ve all experienced this, acting on the trusted recommendation of a friend. Sometimes the word-of-mouth sales cycle is a long one. About fifteen years ago a friend and co-worker recommended Michael Connelly’s books. Every once in a while this would come up, and each time I passed. Then, while on vacation, I picked up City of Bones. I blazed through that book, burned through every other Harry Bosch tale, then the stand-alones. All initially triggered by a word-of-mouth recommendation.

E-books and the Information Age have altered publishing drastically, but Amazon’s algorithms are essentially a sophisticated statement of word-of-mouth recommendations, and sites like Goodreads are very much word-of-mouth.

Recently, a friend sent me a text asking if I had heard of the Matt Royal mystery series by H. Terrell Griffin. You’d like them, my friend said, the protagonist lives by the water down in Florida. I checked-out the Matt Royal books. I hadn’t heard of Terry Griffin, but I figured I’d try one and I ordered Blood Island.

There was a great deal to enjoy. Excellent pacing, a number of plot reversals, and strong depictions of the Florida Gulf Coast and the Keys. It turns out that Mike Jastrzebski and Christine Kling know Terry, and perhaps I even once met him at a Sleuthfest writers conference. Still, for me it was a new find courtesy of a word-of-mouth recommendation. I was glad to make the purchase, find someone new, and I’ll be happy to buy some more Matt Royal books.

The Matt Royal character lives on Longboat Key, not far from Siesta Key where John MacDonald wrote. As I thought about the comparisons between Matt Royal and MacDonald’s Travis McGee, I did some searching on the Internet. In the process, I saw a comparison between Travis McGee and Donald Hamilton’s protagonist Matt Helm.

Hamilton’s series ran from 1960 to 1993, very close in time to the Travis McGee books. Helm is government agent trained as an assassin. Several books were made into movies featuring Dean Martin, and a Matt Helm TV series ran in the mid-70s.

I had forgotten all of this, but the magic of the Kindle made for an easy purchase. The story I read was written in 1964 – 50 years ago for those keeping count. Hamilton is an amazingly even writer who is able to maintain suspense without having to amp up the action through peaks and valleys. If you enjoy spy or crime fiction, you might want to give Hamilton a try.

And if you find that you like Griffin’s Matt Royal or Hamilton’s Matt Helm, don’t keep it to yourself. Tell a friend, pass it along by word-of-mouth.

by John Urban

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From traveled path to plot

With my French mother, Marie Reine and my French brother Arthur at the farm in Normandie

With my French mother, Marie Reine and my French brother Arthur at the farm in Normandie

by Christine Kling

The imagination is a a thing of wonder. As writers we laugh at the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” but really when you think about it, it is a bit like magic. Why does the story take a left turn instead of a right turn? It’s usually because the writer had a certain experience somewhere in her history that influenced her to choose left. It could so easily have gone the other way.

I’m thinking about this because I’m here in Europe traveling around to various locations I think will work for my story, but I like to allow both my experiences and the knowledge I gain along the way to shape the story. It’s a fun but somewhat unnerving process, especially when it seems like something akin to magic is leading the way.

Several months before coming here, I wrote my old school friend Joelle, and she invited me to stay with her in her apartment located in a suburb of Paris.  I stayed in France as a foreign exchange student in 1971-1972, and Joelle was in my class at the lycée. It was the youngest brother in the family who was 13 when I last saw him, and I thought perhaps I would go have tea and visit with him for a few hours. Instead, I learned that my French sister was coming from her home in Fairfax, California to visit her brother in a few days and if I was willing to stay a few days longer, I could see her. Of course I wanted to see her, so I looked at the map and tried to decide where to go to see some more of the country for a few days. Normandie jumped out at me as the place where the memorial to the submarine Surcouf was, and I made my decision. Then it occurred to me that the mother of the family lived in the family’s house in Calvados, Normandie and I could visit her too.

imageSo serendipity led us to spend 3 glorious days in Normandie. First, Wayne and I spent two days in Cherbourg and I did get to visit the same jetty where my character Riley stood in the prologue to Circle of Bones. One the third day, we took the train to Lisieux then hopped on a bus. When the driver deposited us on the side of the road in the small village of Livarot, I didn’t know what to expect. It was quiet standing there surrounded by the green hills of Normandie, listening only to the buzzing of the bees.

I was nervous. I hadn’t seen Arthur, my French brother since he was 19 years old and he would now be a man of 62. It was a glorious crisp sunny day and when I saw a man emerge at the top of the hill, I knew it was that same young man. I waved and he started forward hesitantly, but the closer we got the faster we walked. When we reached each other, we both wore huge smiles and hugged and kissed in the French style, one cheek, then the other. It was almost like we had last seen one another last week. imageWe then hopped in the car and drove to the farm where the once 45-year-old, now 80-something mother awaited us in the garden. I cannot find the words to explain what I felt when I embraced her.

I didn’t plan any of this when I left Florida, but somehow I got to visit old friends I had not seen in over 30 years for the mother and for 40 years for the eldest son. What marvelous characters these people are, and knowing them at such a young age formed me in ways I will never begin to measure. It was those early adventures in France that gave me the thirst for travel and a life of savoring the unexpected.

The big plus from this all is the way that this past week will turn my new plot and provide me with new characters. I know that Riley’s mother will appear in book #3 and she will look a great deal like my French mother and sport her beautiful name, Marie Reine.

Vive la France!

Fair winds!

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Hulls, Horses, and Kamikazes…

C.E. Grundler

After spending a lifetime on and around boats, I’m often fascinated by new-to-boating buyers and their choices of vessels. On one hand, I understand not everyone on the water started there, and over the years I’ve met many who entered boating, lured by the romance and the dream of fun-filled days and tranquil sunsets, who quickly learn the ropes, so to speak, and become exceptionally competent boaters. Often they enter the boat buying market armed with ample research and understanding of what they want and why, and the decisions they make result in a boat best suited to their needs and use. But others simply see a boat that seems appealing, and jump right in without truly understanding the finer points of hull design, seaworthiness and appropriateness. If they’re lucky, they might find a good match. Or they might find themselves in the middle of a Kamikaze.

While most people are familiar with the term, ‘Kamikaze’ dates back to long before World War II, when Japanese fighter pilots were flying suicide missions into Allied ships. Essentially, Kamikaze means ‘Divine Wind.’ And those divine winds, in the form of two typhoons, were what had spared Japan from assault by the Huns in 1274 and 1281. But it wasn’t simply a matter of foul weather wiping out the invading fleets. That was a factor, but there was another issue in play: New boater syndrome.

Simply put, the Mongols were a horse driven army. Their reputation as cavalrymen and archers is renowned. From they time they could walk, children were on horseback. Horses were their way of life. But when they reached the shore of China, they claimed the ships from those they conquered, set their sites on Japan, and demanded the people whose vessels they’d taken build them more, and fast. Ships were built, and off they went.

Now, boats and ships, I understand. Horses, not so much. I haven’t been raised around them, haven’t lived in a family where horses were a way of life for generations. All I know is they’re beautiful creatures. They have four legs, a head, a tail, and you ride them. Food goes in one end and comes out the other. That pretty much sums up my understanding of horses. If I needed a horse tomorrow, I wouldn’t know the first thing about which one to pick or why. Which brings us back to the boatloads of now very sea-sick Huns.

You see, the Huns looked at all these Chinese vessels the same way I’d see a herd of horses. They saw something that floated, had masts and sails, and could carry cargo and manpower over water. What they didn’t see was the bottoms — these were vessels designed for river sailing. Shallow, flat-bottomed hulls. These belonged on open ocean as much as a Clydesdale belongs in the Kentucky Derby. A little understanding of hull design on the part of the Huns would have gone a long way. Furthermore, studies of wrecks have shown construction on the rushed fleet was lacking at best, and possibly even intentionally flawed. The lesson there: Don’t expect the people you just conquered to send you off to sea in safe boats. And when the typhoons, or Kamikazes, as they became known, hit, not once, but twice, that was the end of the Hun Naval Fleet.

The bottom line: while a boat’s bottom may not excite the new-to-boating buyer, a good understanding of hull design can make or break your day on the water — or invasion of a foreign country.

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Dissecting “To Beat the Devil” – Part 4 the Mexican Drug Cartels

Michael Haskins
People have asked me about the Mexican part of To Beat the Devil. I spent most summers in the ‘70s, ‘80s & early ‘90s in Tijuana, Mexico, with road trips to La Paz, at the end of the Baja peninsula. I witnessed the gradual change as the drug cartels began in-fighting and Tijuana, and Baja, became the battleground between these drug gangs.

I chose Tampico, Mexico as the location because of its location to the Gulf of Mexico and it is a major port, close to Texas and has a Mexican Navy base. The corruption throughout Mexican military and politicians is well known and documented. In most cases, the Mexican Navy Special Forces have captured or killed reputed cartel bosses. It appears to be working more closely with American intelligence and DEA in the battle to stop the cartels. The head of the Mexican task force fight the cartel, working out of the Mexican president’s office, was arrested for leaking information to the cartels.

While my fictitious battle by the lake outside the city limits was totally made up, attacks as I describe have happened many times in Mexico. The things Pauly reveals about his days with the cartel are documented as fact in news stories.

The Mexican drug cartels behead more victims than Muslim terrorists. Also, more journalists are killed in Mexico than in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a dangerous place. So dangerous that in 2009 when I was signing Chasin’ the Wind, my friends in Tijuana told me not to come. Even today, after the once powerful local cartel leaders in Baja have been jailed or killed, they have told me not to come. I spent almost 28 summers in Tijuana and La Paz with my twin daughters. The people are wonderful, the food is great and the countryside is beautiful.

The Los Angeles Times has been running a series for years on the Mexican drug war and after moving to Key West, I kept up with it. Google Mexico Under Siege or find the stories on the Times’ website, to see for yourself.

While I made up the battle, drug czars, and Mick Murphy’s escape, the background is taken from daily facts. It is happening, worse in some cases, today. So yes, it’s fiction, based on fact. It is a major concern of Homeland Security that the cartel may use, if it isn’t already, its drug smuggling routes into the USA to sneak in terrorists.

It is also well established in the intelligence community that Iran uses Muslin terrorists for its own purposes. Think of the bombing that was supposed to kill the Saudi Ambassador in D.C. The plotters were paid by the Iranians. It’s all in the daily news and I just collected the facts and put them all together to make an interesting story.

If you  haven’t already checked out the Mystery Writers Key West Fest in June, time is running out. A great gathering of mystery writers!

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The years melt away

With my friend Joelle in front of the church in Cergy village.

With my friend Joelle in front of the church in Cergy village.

by Christine Kling

Having lived the life of a cruising sailor for many years, and later become a professional writer, I became a delinquent correspondent. It is perhaps easier for those people who live in the same place and work in the same job for all their lives. But then again maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse. The truth is when I sail out of sight, literally or figuratively, odds are you won’t hear from me again unless you write me first.

I’ve lost friends as a result of this. One of my dear childhood friends got very angry with me when I dropped in out of the blue and got reacquainted after years of silence, but then disappeared and didn’t write anymore. Another longtime friend and colleague became furious when she had not heard from me for months, and then she got one of my author newsletters that I send out to my mailing list of over 1000 recipients. She was insulted that I couldn’t write something more personal, and I understand her point. But as someone who writes for a living – books and blogs – I have trouble finding the time to write personal emails in this day and age of social media.

Somehow I have never mastered the art of the brief phone call or the short note. I feel obliged to “catch up” and since usually so much has happened to me, the task of explaining it all becomes too much, and I never do write. I have a friend who often calls me out of the blue and asks if I’m doing well. Just as I start into my long-winded “catch-up” monologue, he cuts me off and gives me one piece of his news then says good-bye. I look at the phone and think Wow! How did he just pull that off? And I’m envious. Maybe I’ll learn one of these days. After all, I’m only 60 years old.

So given this odd bit of bad manners I exhibit, it was all the sweeter when I contacted a friend who lives here in France where the research for my new novel has taken me. I first met Joelle in 1971 when I was a foreign exchange student for 14 months in France. She was in my class at the Lycée de Pontoise. We became great friends and had lots of crazy adventures during that year when I brought some of my American hippy laissez-faire culture to France. Later I helped her find a spot as an au pair in California with the family of a teacher from my high school. From that point onwards she had strong connections and often visited California, but the last time we saw one another was when my now 29-year-old son was an infant in 1984.

Yet, when I contacted Joelle last summer through Facebook and told her I was planning to come to France to research my new novel, she invited me to come stay with her. Later when I told her that I’d met Wayne and he was coming too, she didn’t blink. We were both invited.

When I saw Joelle step out of her car at the bus station at Cergy Préfecture, it was as though the intervening thirty odd years melted away. We both turned sixty during the last few months, but I think neither of us looks it.  I know we don’t feel it. We’ve been giggling like the school girls we once were. And here we are, sitting at the dining table in her apartment in Cergy smelling the amazing aromas coming from the kitchen as she works her French cook magic. She has made us feel so at home, it is wonderful.

This afternoon, Joelle drove us over to the home of Henri, one of the sons of the family I lived with when I was here in France in 1971. I last saw him when he was 13 years old, and today I met one of his four children, his 21-year-old son. He was just as gracious as Joelle has been, and he has invited us to return to dinner next week when his sister Elizabeth will be there. She was my “French sister” when I was here all those years ago, and while we also kept in touch until the mid-eighties, we too had lost touch. I am so looking forward to seeing her again. Boy did we have adventures together during that year that totally changed my life.

I am so grateful that these wonderful friends are able to forgive me for my lack of letter-writing or email courtesy through the years. What a treat this is to make the reacquaintance of these childhood friends and find that we are able to pick up right where we left off and catch up effortlessly. I am determined to become a better correspondent in the future because now that I have re-discovered these precious friends, I don’t want to lose touch with them.

Maybe there is something to the idea that growing older is also getting wiser.

Fair winds!



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Getting my bearings…

C.E. Grundler

Dead reckoning is defined as the process of calculating one’s current position by using a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time and course. Or, more simply put, if you know where you started and you know which direction you’re going and how fast you’re traveling, you should know where you’ll end up. It works on paper, and so long as all conditions remain constant, it should work on the water as well.

These days, modern technology has taken a huge chunk of the challenge out of basic coastal navigation. Electronics can show you precisely where you are, where you’re going, and how fast. It can display the bottom in multicolor hi-resolution detail, to the point that wrecks and obstructions appear like photographs. But old habits die hard, and I still prefer seeing my course charted out on paper, complete with calculations and notes along the edges. I’ll glance over the the GPS occasionally to take a fix and verify everything matches, but that’s just a backup to those paper charts and penciled headings. For a Luddite like me, it keeps things interesting.

But with dead reckoning, there are always variables that affect the outcome. Wind. Current. Foul weather. Unforeseen delays, unexpected obstacles, mechanical failures, some guy named Murphy, the list goes on. Anyone who has logged much of any time underway knows that. And these same principles apply to writing, and life in general. Reaching each mark on schedule is the goal, but it’s not always the case. And sometimes we find ourselves far from our intended destination, (yes, I would in fact have checked the GPS long before that point, but bear with me for this metaphor,) scratching our head and looking around, getting our bearings. The funny thing about being off course is that you don’t realize you are until you do, and then all so suddenly you realize you aren’t where you thought you should be. The next challenge involves determining where, exactly, you actually are. And part of figuring that out is calculating where and when your heading shifted, and for how long.

Non-writers seem to believe the writing and publication process is a straightforward, linear process. We plot everything out on paper, navigate the course, and HooRAY, we’re novelists. Someone said as much the other day. “You decided to write a book, and you wrote it.” Yes, determination is part of the equation. But only one facet. Just as with dead reckoning, writing a novel sounds relatively straightforward, but there’s still those pesky delays, obstacles, winds and currents, all conspiring to throw you off course. And as with navigation, it’s not until you realize you’re not reaching the mark you expected that you have to stop and figure out where you are.

In the passing year I’d begun to sense I’d lost my heading. Plain and simple, I wasn’t happy with anything I was writing. Everything that had worked for me in the past wasn’t cutting it anymore, and the more I tried, the more I fell short. It was time to figure out where I’d gone off course, and what it would take to get back underway.

In hindsight, it appears pretty clear where I drifted off track. In fact, I can pinpoint the exact moment – that same moment I found half the roof, ceiling, and oak tree limbs all over my desk. I’d lost my main writing space. The room I normally retreated to had been destroyed, along with ALL my outlines and notes for the book I’d been admittedly battling with. More than that, the entire house went on to become a construction zone. With nowhere to hide, my home upside down and my writing stalled, I fled back to work at a boatyard, just as I had when I first began writing. I’d just get my bearings and get back on course, I told myself. I’d done it before, I could do it again.

But somewhere along the line I began to lose focus on my heading. The days rolled into weeks, then months. I began to realize I was far off course. Writing anything was becoming a battle against everything else pressing for my attention. I’d neglected my own blog, my writing here suffered from the strain. And worse yet, I knew if I remained on that heading much longer, there was no way I’d ever complete my next book, or any more going forward. I was way off course, and it was time to make a choice.

So here I am, charts metaphorically spread before me, all other distractions gone. Those eight hours a day, plus an hour of driving, are now utilized exclusively for writing. I’ve started by doing some housekeeping on my personal blog, filling in the gaps of boat work and life in general. My posts here will once again get the time they deserve, and the remainder of those hours are for one thing and one thing alone – finishing my next book. I’ve got some distance to cover and some time to make up for, but I’m back to a known position, on course, and I have my destination in sight.

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Key West Writer’s House Lottery


by John Urban
A well known Key West writer’s house is being sold for just $9.99. The catch? You have to purchase the best selling author’s latest book to be entered into the lottery. Still, the chance to pick up a prime island estate for just ten dollars will be enticing, especially to William Tennessee’s loyal readers.

Tennessee, known to his readers as Bill, moved to the Florida Keys in the early 70s when the economy was slow and real estate was cheap. He had just sold his first book, which he wrote for his masters thesis at the University of Iowa. “I moved down to stay with a friend on Islamorada, then I found my own rental in Key West. The advance on that first book arrived in the mail and I figured if I didn’t invest the money I’d end up drinking it away. It was summertime, the local economy had bottomed-out, and the house needed work. But, looking back, it was a steal.”

In the years that followed, Tennessee shifted to mystery books. Several became best sellers. Along the way, book sales allowed him to restore the property and he eventually bought the house next door and combined the two homes into one large house. The home, which is located just a few doors down from the restaurant Louie’s Backyard, has a very large pool and a private beach.

Local tax records give Tennessee’s house a $3.75M assessment value, but local real estate broker H. Morrison Flagler says that price might even be low. “With that location and today’s improving market, I think you could get a bit over $4M, especially since it’s still zoned as two parcels.” When asked if he’ll be buying Tennessee’s book, Flagler said, “Everyone on the island’s going to be in line on this one.”

(A large pool area allows for ample seating and entertaining)

Tennessee never married and he has no heirs. In an interview with local station KEYW, the author said, “I suppose some people will think this is a ploy to sell books, but that was the last thing I had in mind. I come from a small southern family and I’m the end of the line. I’ve got more than I need and the old house is too big for this old man. I said to myself, readers gave it to me, so I figure I’ll give it back.”

Tennessee’s latest book, Stella’s Shout-out, is due out later this year. When interviewed the author said, “It’s the last in my Stanley and Stella murder series, but it takes us back to the beginning. It’s set in Key West, back when the place was a lot more sleepy than today, back when you might sit down in a bar, find Truman Capote to your right, a commercial fisherman to your left, and nobody in the room gave a damn about your business as long as the beer was cold and the stone crabs were fresh.”

(Furniture will be included with the house. Several best sellers were written from this desk in the author’s office.)

Sales for Stella’s Shout-out go on sale March 29th, 2014 and Tennessee will close out the lottery as soon as 25,000 copies are sold.

According to Tennessee, “This may end up being the first e-book collectors item. As soon as the the 25,000 copies are sold I’ll pull the book off of Amazon and my agent will notify the winner the very next day. My books sell fast, so I know this one will move quickly. The lawyers readied the papers and I’ll be giving the winner the keys and handing over the place, fully furnished.”

The author closed the KEYW interview with advice: “I just hope some fool doesn’t get disappointed because he waited until April 1st to buy the book.”

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Have you used an ATN Gale Sail?

By Mike Jastrzebski

I’m directing this post to all of our readers who are sailors. Have any of you used an ATN Gale Sail? I know the arguments against the sail, and I know the advantages of installing a removable stay for a storm jib. In fact I have a rigger coming out next month to look at the boat and give me a price for adding a removable stay, but I have a limited budget and want to check out all options.

So if you’ve used one of the Gale Sails please comment and let me know your opinion of the sail. Also, if you have a used 100 square foot Gale Sale that you are interested in selling write me at If you include your phone number I’ll call and we can talk price.

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Living history

A fisherman on his way out to sea in Marsaskala, Malta

A fisherman on his way out to sea in Marsaskala, Malta

by Christine Kling

I never liked history classes much. That’s a bit ironic now as I am writing this series of thrillers that are marbled through with rich veins of history. And in order to write them, I find myself trekking around places like Corregidor Island in Manila Harbor in the Philippines and the Citadel on the island of Gozo in the Mediterranean. I love poking through the museums and standing in the paths, caves, streets or forts and looking around imagining what it must have been like when other people who are now all dead once walked this same bit of earth where I stand.

I know it means I was a bit dull when I was a kid, but I really didn’t get that history was all about people. In school, too often it was about dates, wars and events that seemed driven by some unseen force. Not by individuals. Not by characters who were human like me. It seemed in history class like it was always this army or country or political party that did something.

It was fiction that first began to put individual faces to history for me. Remember all those great historical novels by James Michener, Leon Uris, Irving Stone and the like? I read them when I was sailing back in the 1970’s, and I started to dream then of trying to write characters who lived in another time.

MaritimeMuseumI read recently that it’s estimated that if you counted up all the people who have lived and died on this earth it would be about 100 billion. And there are about 7.3 billion of us alive here now. I get that 100 billion is a huge number and it’s difficult to see them as individuals, but when I stand up on the ramparts of a town that was built hundreds of years ago, I feel like I want to inhale everything I can about the lives of the few who lived and walked on that same spot. The museums and exhibits and signs are full of wonderful tidbits that make sense when you are standing on the spot where they happened. In Corregidor there was an amazing walk through the Malinta Tunnel with a sound track that made you feel the bombs falling outside. I’ve seen the numbers of men who died on that island, but they didn’t start to become real to me until I stood in that dark tunnel. And many of the characters of Dragon’s Triangle were born out of that experience.

A couple of days ago, Wayne and I took the bus from the cold apartment where we were staying in Xlenti on the island of Gozo next to Malta, and we traveled to the Citadel, a fortified city in the middle of the town of Victoria. We visited the Archeological Museum there and learned that the site had first been settled in 1500 BC by the ancient civilization that little is known about here on Malta. Then throughout the centuries various people from the Romans to the Spaniards to the Corsairs to the Knights of the Order of St. John had built and modified the fortress. CKwallWhen we climbed up to the top of the stone walls and looked out across the countryside, it was pretty easy to imagine that it hadn’t looked all that much different 300 years ago.

It’s those rare magical moments like that when history really comes alive for me. Feeling the cold wind on my face, I close my eyes and see in my imagination another woman standing there like me, looking out across the land towards the gray, wind-swept sea. My thoughts bring her to life, and I can see the lines of worry in her face. She touches her cheek and there is a cold tear sliding down her skin. I start to hear her voice, and she whispers her secret fears to me.

Sometimes people ask me what it’s like writing a book. Most of it is really hard, frustrating work, but moments like that one at the Citadel in Gozo, THAT, that is why I do it.

Fair winds!


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