I am privileged and humbled to have played a small part in getting this new book of short stories into the water. Each piece revolves around a ferry journey.
Harvested from the creative talents of writers who have dropped anchor in and around the waters of the West Highlands of Scotland, this little gem will appeal to readers who love boats, the Highlands or just the thrill of setting out on a new adventure.
Here you will discover stories of those passing purposefully over the water and those being swept by the tide. There are people lost and people found, stories of birth and death. Tales of whales, the bleat of sheep and the unmistakable tang of salt air.
When researching ideas for this project, originally for my Creative Writing group at Argyll College, I was intrigued by the superstitions, traditional customs and strange beliefs of mariners.
Most of these are associated with bad luck and as a thriller writer, I had to learn more.
Did you know that if the words ‘good luck’ were to be uttered on a boat, then the only way to reverse the ‘curse’ was to punch someone (most probably the person who had just said it) and draw blood?
Women on boats
We are all familiar with the naming ceremony for important new ships and a part of the cultural tradition demands that a woman performs the champagne christening as a way of ensuring prosperity and good luck for the vessel.
So, if a woman’s hand was deemed to be good luck during the naming ceremony for a boat, then why was it considered bad luck to have a women on board?
The answer to this lies in basic human nature and the fact that until recently, the sea-faring industries were totally male-dominated and so having a female among their ranks would have been a dangerous distraction. Although it did happen on many an occasion.
And this is where the wonderfully wicked curse, ‘son of a gun’ comes from. Imagine a busy and crowded vessel at sea with the additional presence of a woman on board. Should a besotted sailor wish to consummate his love, then the location for such a dalliance would very often be done in the relative privacy of the gun deck.
These affairs would often result in the birth of an illegitimate child – the son of a gun.
Just to confuse matters further, seafaring folk used to believe that nude women were actually a calming influence on the sea which is why you will see so many figureheads of naked women on old sailing ships.
If you pay close attention to our book ‘Sea Passages,’ you might discover in one story that there is a brief physical ferry encounter between a young couple deeply in love. Those of you who are particularly alert and read the book all the way through to the very last nautical nugget might also find out that this event has an impact on another story in the book.
I live on a tiny island and so I appreciate the excellent work the Royal National Lifeboat Institution do for our safety, every day of the year. They assisted a good friend of mine only last week, further south in the English Channel.
And so, all the profits from this book are going to the RNLI.
I hope you enjoy each and every one of the eleven stories and one poem.
PS: I am still working on the 4th Ridge Walker adventure thriller and I promise it will be published later this year.
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If you’re looking for some dark and gritty writing then check out my thriller THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. There’ll be a sequel in the very near future.
Not for the faint of heart but it’ll reward you for reading it.
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