A Scottish Seafaring Mystery- Bill Kirton

I’ve always loved sea-faring stories, which is odd since I can get “mal-de-mer” in a hot tub. Still, the idea of being on a schooner is romantic and thrilling. Bill Kirton has captured that spirit, plus what historical fiction does best, he focuses on a little-known art: the carving of the elaborate figureheads ships bore. His two-part series The Figurehead, and his latest, The Likeness.

So, Bill. You’re an interesting cat. What’s your story?

I’ve been lucky. My main job was as a university lecturer teaching French, which involved sitting around with intelligent, dedicated young people talking about books. I also presented TV programmes during which I went hang-gliding, drove a racing car, flew a glider and a plane, interviewed people and failed miserably at water-skiing. I was a voice-over artist for radio and TV and wrote and performed songs and sketches at the Edinburgh Festival. I’ve also written, directed and acted in stage plays in Scotland and the USA.

What’s the plot of The Likeness?

The book’s set in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1841. It’s the sequel to my first historical novel, The Figurehead, and it features a figurehead carver, a visiting troupe of actors performing maritime melodramas, and the strong-willed daughter of a ship-owning merchant in the city. There’s a suspicious death (which the carver investigates), a romance, which started in the first book and comes to its maturity in the second, and the first steps of the heroine in the (man’s) world of early Victorian commerce.

It was written to satisfy the demands of some readers who said nice things about The Figurehead, and pressured me to write a sequel.

That’s how Acre’s Orphans came about, readers wouldn’t let me give Lucca any rest. What is it about the story that     had you so fascinated?

The book had a strange genesis. I’d written five modern crime novels and a non-writing friend said to me ‘You should write about a figurehead carver.’ ‘Why?’ I said, and he just shrugged his shoulders. But I love anything connected with the old, square-rigged sailing ships and Aberdeen has such a great ship-building past that I was hooked on the idea. It also gave me an excuse to learn wood carving (so that I could convey how it feels to create figureheads) and fulfil a fantasy by being part of the crew on the beautiful Danish sailing ship, Christian Radich, on a trip from Oslo to Aberdeen.

I know this is an unfair question, but do you have a favorite scene?

Helen Anderson, the female lead, is often a scene-stealer, so any time she appears, things happen, but the activities of the actors during play rehearsals and performances, as well as the workings of stage machinery and effects in Victorian theatre are fascinating. From that, I even learned where the expression ‘You’ve stolen my thunder’ came from.

There’s also Helen’s voyage on board one of her father’s ships. And the final two scenes – the ‘reveal’ of whodunit, then the decision the carver and Helen eventually make about their future. Writing all of them presented different challenges so it’s hard to pick a favourite.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

My website and blog are at www.billkirton.com and both books are on Amazon, where my author page is https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY, and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1100307.Bill_Kirton

And on Twitter, I’m @carver22

Not to barge in on Bill’s interview, but Acre’s Orphans is now  available for pre-order on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, and Chapters. Please help us launch it successfully by buying now. And any time you read a book  like The Likeness (or one of mine,) please leave an Amazon or Goodreads review. It’s like applause for  the author.

Published by

Wayne Turmel

Wayne Turmel is a writer, speaker and co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute. Originally from Canada, he is in the process of moving from Chicago to Las Vegas with his wife, The Duchess. He tries to balance his fiction and non-fiction writing, and loves to hear from readers. His Amazon author page is at https://www.amazon.com/Wayne-Turmel/e/B00J5PGNWU/

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