Historical fiction – where to draw the line

The issue of factual inaccuracy in historical fiction is a perpetual source of debate, and occasional outbreaks of controversy. Reports in the media today pick up on this issue with aspects of the new film Mary Queen of Scots labelled ‘problematic’ by a historian in a BBC report with the Telegraph going as far as…

Nemesister – review and interview with Sophie Jonas-Hill

I am pleased to welcome to Air and Sea Stories, Sophie Jonas-Hill, whose pacy psychological thriller Nemesister was recently published by Urbane Publications. First off, a review of the book, followed by an interview with Sophie: Review – Nemesister Sophie Jonas-Hill’s novel is an incredibly atmospheric thriller that swings from eerie to brooding to intense…

Detectives of the occult – hanged, drawn and quarterly

I wasn’t really aware of just how enduringly popular the Occult Detective is in literature and other art forms until recently. It was through fellow writer and aficionado of weird fiction and long dogs, John Linwood Grant, that I had my initiation into the genre. John, with Sam Gafford, edits a new publication that promises…

Interview with ‘Last Roundhead’ author Jemahl Evans

Air and Sea Stories is pleased to welcome Jemahl Evans, author of the critically acclaimed The Last Roundhead (Caerus Press, 2015) and the forthcoming sequel This Deceitful Light, which is due for publication in September. Jemahl graduated with an MA in History, focussing on poetry and propaganda during the Wars of the Roses, and started…

Stealing the editor’s chair

My co-editor JA Ironside has already given a fascinating account of the process of editing the anthology A Seeming Glass on her blog here, so I shan’t go over ground she has so ably covered. That said, I thought it might be interesting to add my perspective on how this collection of stories came into…

Free short story – ‘Ascent’

The short story ‘Ascent’ can be downloaded here for free in honour of the first successful ascent of the Eiger Nordwand, on this day in 1938 AscentMWillis240714 The short story collection ‘A Seeming Glass’, co-edited by me and JA Ironside will be published next month. See The Random Writers website for more details A Seeming…

The frigate in literature

A little while ago someone asked me what kind of ship a frigate was. When you’re as immersed in naval culture and terminology as you become when writing a novel on the subject, it’s easy to lose track of terms that many people might not be familiar with. These aren’t necessarily things you need to…

Daedalus and the Deep – the real sea serpent mystery

Daedalus and the Deep has its roots in real events. HMS Daedalus was a real ship, a Leda-class frigate built in 1820 and later re-rated to corvette. HMS Daedalus was best known in Victorian Britain, for the sighting of a sea-serpent between the Cape of Good Hope and St Helena in 1848 – 165 years…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 1 – Sailing

Frigates and corvettes – HMS Daedalus was originally a frigate, and under sail in the 1840s would have looked very much like HMS Raleigh as pictured here. A frigate has a single gun deck (shown here by the single row of gunports along the white band running the length of the hull). In 1844 she…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 2 – Fighting

Weaponry of one form or another is quite important in Daedalus and the Deep, as with much historic naval fiction. HMS Daedalus had a broadside battery of twenty heavy 32-pounder cannon, as well as carronades (a short-range, lightweight cannon) and smaller weapons. The following images of the gundecks on HMS Warrior (5), built 1860 and…

Daedalus and the Deep pictorial Guide 3 – Living

Even on a small vessel such as HMS Daedalus, the living space occupied by officers and men was strictly divided. Officers (and senior warrant officers) had small, hutch-like cabins in the wardroom, which was the general space where they lived and dined. Wardroom – the wardroom was for commissioned officers and senior non-commissioned officers such…