As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to write. I’ve always jotted down ideas I thought would make good stories and noted interesting phrases and comments picked up through eavesdropping. I love wide-lined notebooks with soft covers, especially if I can fill them with dialogue and descriptions and I have a drawer full going back years.
After a false start in my late 30s when I realised I didn’t know enough about life to write the sort of book I wanted to write I began “New Beginnings on Vancouver Island” in 2020. This summer, 2022, I’m publishing “The Shackletons of Whitehaven” – for more on that see below. I’m now working on the sequel to “New Beginnings” for publication in 2023. Then I think I’m probably going to write more about the Shackletons since I’m sure there have a lot more to say to the world.
“New Beginnings on Vancouver Island”
“It was Saturday night and Whitehaven was busy entertaining itself. A rogue wind was blowing in from the sea, brisk, cheerless and noisy, seeking warm crevices in which to rest awhile. Despite this, the town was teeming with deckhands just in from Antigua. Men with their caps drawn tight over their ears and their jackets buttoned high were swaying from inn to ale house, seeking excitement.”
It’s 1854 and colliers from Whitehaven and Brierley Hill are emigrating to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company opening up the mines in Colville on Vancouver Island off the West coast of Canada. Their journey from Whitehaven via Liverpool takes over 6 months and includes travelling around The Horn in winter stopping only once in Honolulu for supplies. Conditions, especially in steerage, are very difficult; there are births and deaths along the way yet they manage and begin new lives in Canada. Some of them fall in love along the way, others have to face up to demons they thought they’d left behind and honour pacts made years ago.
This novel is based upon a journey made by my forebears. It’s a work of faction – fiction based on fact. I’ve used family papers, information from the original log book and other papers. The story was told to me by my Canadian mother as part of my heritage, but it’s not about my family. I’ve changed the name of the ship and taken some liberties with Whitehaven, Liverpool and Colville.
Will book loving Fergus Shackleton find success in business and love despite his overbearing father, Hector?
By forging his own path is Fergus going to turn into his father, the very person he is trying to escape?
Is chasing success going to change Fergus so much that his girlfriend, Becky, is forced to doubt their future together?
Will the price of success be a broken heart?
Set in 1860, this was a time when Whitehaven’s shipping was at its peak with iron ore being transported to Cardiff and coal to Dublin forming the “shamrock run”. Professional relationships were cemented only to fall apart, family relationships became strained and romance threatened by social mores.