A little bit about me....
I'm primarily a maritime and naval author, though
my books have included an illustrated history of Trafalgar Square, a companion to the Imperial War Museum's War Correspondent
exhibition, and the TV-tie in for Dan Snow's three-part Dig WW2, which took me into land conflict and air
warfare (though I had covered a century of naval aviation while writing Carrier) as well as naval aspects.
I've set up the website in order to provide information about my current and forthcoming books, post corrections and extra
information, and to build up a list of resources and material you may find useful. My most recent commission was
to co-edit Shipwright 2013, which came out in June (2013).
Occasionally people ask for advice, and I am sure there
are many people better qualified than me to offer any. But two things I would say from experience. Firstly, here is
a great deal of goodwill out there, certainly in the fields in which I have researched, and people will help. When I started
writing Marked for Misfortune I was terrified of letting anyone know what I was doing, afraid that someone would steal the
idea and beat me to completion of the research. Eventually it became essential.. Not only did nobody steal the idea, I also
received a lot of guidance, some of it from unexpected sources.
Secondly, and this is aimed squarely
at Anglo Saxons, if you are touching on subjects with a foreign dimension, it helps to have some level of competence in the
appropriate foreign language. Many books amd most papers are written in English these days, and some will oblige with
translations of quotations from documents in key foreign texts, but a reliance on English cuts you off from earlier resources.
And if you can actually approach an expert in his or her own language, it can help to establish fruitful contact.
Due to another other big commitment at the moment, I'm currently not working on a book , but soon I will start
on the one I have wanted to write for a long time, ever since I touched on the story in another book. It could be a long
time before it is done, and then I'll worry about finding a publisher.
However, I am sporadically assisting
an Italian documentary producer who is developing what looks to be a really exciting project. I may not have any Italian
blood in my veins, but I have plenty of Italian wine in them, and I have long been attracted to all things Italian, including
aspects of its naval history. I very much hope it comes to fruition, but I know that the idea has to be 'sold' to
the people who put content in front of the viewer, especially foreign networks, in order to make any project financially viable.
You may be surprised to find a big article about antique mercury barometers and the Ortelli family who made
them, in Britain, in the very late 18th and the first half of the 19th century. Well, we all have
our guilty pleasures, and this is one of mine. There is something very special about these beautiful, unique
and useful creations that were handcrafted and signed by Italians who, more than two centuries ago, began crossing the
Alps and travelling some 750 miles across Europe to bring their skills to Britain. It's work
in constant progress. It is also a chance to write in a friendly style, with little digressions here and there, speculation,
admissions of ignorance, not to mention well-intentioned promises to find out missing information at some unspecified time
in the vague future. Freed from commercial considerations and the straightjacket of a brief, and from the twin
pressures of time schedule and word count, I can indulge myself and, I hope, revive interest in, and acquisition
of, mercury barometers. I have also tried to show more than the fruits of research in their final form: I wanted to explain
something of the process of research, the false starts, the blanks, the way connections were made, the sources used and the
thought processes involved, because the research is, for me at least, the best part of it, the part that leaves a writer alternately
frustrated or euphoric.