A project I've been planning for quite some time is coming together nicely now. Picking up from the story I told in Limehouse Boys, this story centres on Ned Farrier, and his search for love and fulfillment. He has left the barges, gained his 'ticket' as a Mate and a Master of seagoing vessels, but kept his connections with his friends, still in Limehouse even as he sails the world. Even as he succeeds in his ambition to be a Master of a ship, he finds the legacy of his childhood in a workhouse haunts him. As a Mate, and then Captain of ships taking emigrants to America and then Africa he meets a number of people who force him to confront these specters. Among them, a lady of genteel birth, travelling to South Africa to join her financially ruined husband as he escapes the disgrace of his bankruptcy.
While Ned faces the dangers and difficulties of the African coast and trade, Sally Hudsmith does her best to support her husband as he struggles to rebuild his finances and self-respect. In the arc of the story Ned finds himself burying passengers who die during the voyages, and two of his saviours and mentors who set him on the path to his career. He is not without enemies either, as the piratical Mate on the Duchess of Morecambe on the Atlantic emigrant route to America, is also now on the African coast and still up to no good -- engaged in activities that impact the Hudsmiths and other settlers.
Research for the background of the book has produced a wealth of fascinating information regarding the British settlement of Southern Africa, and, my own particular interest, the development of the shipping service to the Cape. This is the period in which steamships were just starting to be employed on the longer routes, when Mr Brunel was constructing the Great Eastern at Millwall on the Thames. The technology of engines, shipbuilding, boilers and ship management were moving forward in leaps and bounds and I'm very pleased with the shape the story is taking.
I am hopeful that I will meet the publisher's deadline for July, and then see the book in print by the end of the year. It's been a challenge to write, but a lot of fun as well. I hope readers will agree when it is published.