Friday, July 07, 2017

Taphophilia - an affliction found in graveyards.

Do you suffer from TAPHOPHILIA? 
I know I do. I caught it from my Dad when I was a young child.
Perhaps you have also been struck down by it. Don't know, then ask yourself:
“Do you love to roam through cemeteries when you're on holiday? If so, there's a word for what you've got: "taphophilia", a love of graves and the rituals of death.
Taphophiles, also known as "gravers", are the people who pore over epitaphs, gravestones and the history of the dead.” ***
For historians and family history researchers, epitaphs on graves read like a map to the past – connecting people, places and events. Often they tell of grief and loss, but also of emigration, incarceration, trauma and tragedy.
A few weeks ago, I wandered through the graveyard on Norfolk Island. This consecrated ground captures the history of First Fleeters, officers and guards responsible for the lives and deaths of convicts sentenced to the most diabolical penal settlement in Australia. 
The graves also recognise generation of descendants of the mutinous crew of HMS Bounty who despatched Captain Bligh to the Pacific Ocean in an open boat over 200 years ago.

Unfortunately, the main problem with "taphophilia" is that once the bug gets into your blood stream there is no cure.

*** by Fiona Pepper and Claudette Werden for ‘Blueprint for Living’ (ABC).

Sunday, July 02, 2017

My Writing Journey - an author's inspiration stirred by the sea

When my life was turned upside down in the 90s, I decided there were certain things I wanted to do – one was to sail on a tall ship and the other to write a book.
Living in Western Australia, my first experience of sailing was a twelve day voyage on a barquentine in the Indian Ocean. During bow watch one night, I witnessed the sea’s magic, and was hooked.
On the deck of STS Leeuwin off the Monte Bello Islands.
That experience and the feelings that accompanied it inspired me to write my first book. I titled the story: ILLUSIVE DIAMONDS after the bio-luminescent particles in the sea that had amazed me. However, the London publishing house that bought the production rights did not like the working title and asked me to change it. Hence I called the novel SEA DUST. That was 2005.
Margaret Muir/M.C.Muir 
From there, I wrote four other historical fiction stories for them, targeting a female readership and the first of the nautical fiction series featuring Captain Oliver Quintrell. But, as the publisher and I did not see eye to eye on the latter’s publication, I withdrew from the traditional route and turned to self publishing. I have never looked back.
A few years ago, I combined three of my early novels in a Box Set entitled:  YORKSHIRE GRIT and was delighted to see my stories reach best seller status on Amazon for a short time. 
Recently I have concentrated on nautical fiction, writing under the by-line M.C. Muir and targeting a male readership. 
The UNDER ADMIRALTY ORDERS SERIES has become very popular.
All my titles are available on Amazon as e-books and paperbacks.
For anyone interested, SEA DUST is FREE on Amazon for the next few days.

Pics: STS Leeuwin ll and yours truly aboard  Leeuwin off the Monte Bello Islands.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Pumice and Pumice Rafts

Pumice collected from beach on Norfolk Island (May 2017)

Having recently visited Norfolk Island (located in the S. Pacific midway between Australia and New Zealand) I was struck by the amount of pumice on the beaches and was told it came from an underwater volcano off New Zealand.
It probably relates to a major undersea volcano, the previously little-known Havre Seamount in the Kermadec Islands of New Zealand, which erupted in 2012.
A raft of pumice floating on the sea 
The huge volume of molten rock, produced by the eruption, resulted in a large area of floating pumice known as a PUMICE RAFT. This originally covered a surface of 400 square kilometres (150 square miles). 
The raft divided by a boat sailing through 
The thickness of the raft may have been as great as 3.5mt (11ft) but reduced to around 0.5mt (1ft 8in) within a month. It soon spread to a continuous float of between 7,500 and 10,000 sq. miles (19,000 and 26,000km2) and within three month dispersed to an area of more than twice the size of New Zealand. 
Beach at Norfolk Island dotted with pumice
Reports followed of pumice being found of the beaches of Tasmania and eastern Australia.
Dr Carey University of Tasmania) said pumice rafts were believed to have been a primary means for the transport of sedentary marine species between continents in prehistoric times.
Huge raft see from space
Photos of the PUMICE RAFT taken after a volcanic eruption in the South Pacific give an indication of its immense size both from water level and from space.
(Courtesy of the USGS and Smithsonian Institute).

Friday, June 23, 2017

On writing nautical fiction and reflecting on the Bards of the genre.

While it would be impossible for a writer to duplicate the literary genius that flowed from the pens of CS Forester and Patrick O’Brian, authors continually aim to emulate the works of the Masters.
Sadly Forester and O’Brian are long gone which begs the following questions:
How long can the adventures of Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey hold their own?
Have these fictional hero’s reached their use-by date?
Are they being consumed by the smoke and fire - not of sea battles and cannon fire - but fire-breathing monsters, vampires, and aliens from outer space?
As such, are today’s young readers really entranced by the romance of the sea and the magic of the world of wooden ships?
Can the combined efforts of a crew of new writers, keep the genre afloat?
Or is the popularity of the genre dying in parallel with its ageing readership?
Time will tell, but, no doubt, the classic novels will grace bookshelves and libraries for many years to come providing budding authors with the bench mark to aim for.
Such is the challenge confronting writers of nautical fiction.

Pics courtesy of Wikipedia
Admiralty Orders