It’s a big day – the cover reveal for my new book, Sailor of Liberty! The reveal is happening pretty much simultaneously on this website and on that of my wonderful publishers, Canelo, so without further ado, here it is –
I may be biased, but I think it’s a pretty terrific piece of work!
Sailor of Liberty will be published on 19 January 2023 and is available for pre-order – here’s the link to Amazon’s UK site. So what’s it about, you ask? Well…
As the cover makes clear, it’s set in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. For years I’d been of the opinion that in terms of naval historical fiction, this period had probably been done to death. Following in the wake of C S Forester and Patrick O’Brian have come many other series, many of them excellent in their own right, but pretty much all of them written from the British point of view. I knew I didn’t want to go down the same path, especially as so many others had trodden it much better than I could. A few years ago, though, I was in a hotel bar with some other nautical fiction writers during a historical novel conference, and someone made a chance remark about wishing there was something in English but written from the French side. This idea took a long time to germinate, finally doing so thanks to some watering from my agent and publisher, but the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew on me. For one thing, the French navy of 1793 was very much the underdog – undermanned and poorly equipped, riven by political and regional jealousies, and having also lost the vast majority of its experienced commissioned officers due to the French Revolution, yet France somehow had to still put out a fleet capable of at least holding its own against the British. The political background is particularly fascinating. This, after all, was the age of The Terror, the guillotine and (in fiction) the Scarlet Pimpernel, giving way ultimately to the rise of Napoleon, yet the relentless focus on the British experience meant that these perspectives rarely if ever appear in nautical fiction. So although my command of French is only a little more advanced than the traditional opening gambit of the stereotypical Brit in France, namely shouting ‘PARLEZ-VOUS ANGLAIS?’ very loudly and with increasing desperation, I thought this was an avenue I wanted to explore. So then, all I needed to do was to create a hero and a story…
Enter Philippe Kermorvant. Philippe is an outsider, born to a political exile and essentially stateless. He grows up in a land at war, taking to the sea as so many of his ancestors, the Bretons, have done down the centuries. Blooded in America and Russia, a shocking personal tragedy takes him at last to France, the homeland he has never known. But much of France is in revolt against the fragile new republican regime, the Terror is beginning to take hold, the shadow of the guillotine falls over every corner of the country, and Philippe’s birth and background make him suspect to the authorities and even to his own family. Somehow, Philippe has to convince the state’s representatives that he is loyal to the republic in order to achieve his goal of gaining command of a warship. Even if he succeeds, how can a man seen by many as an aristocrat and a foreigner win over unreliable officers and a recalcitrant crew, then mould them into a unit capable of engaging the most powerful maritime fighting force the world has ever seen? All the while he has to battle the demons from his own past, master his feelings for a woman who should be utterly unobtainable, and above all, not make the small, inadvertent mistake, the wrong word or the wrong gesture, that might send him to the guillotine.
I hope your appetite is whetted! If it is, I’ll provide some more teasers for Sailor of Liberty in the run-up to its publication.
A final word for the readers who have been with me from the start and who often ask if there will be any more Quinton novels set in the Anglo-Dutch wars of the seventeenth century. At the moment, pretty much all of my time is taken up with Sailor of Liberty and subsequent titles in the Kermorvant series – yes, there will be more, and you heard it here first! But as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, there’s a complete but as yet unpublished Quinton book which takes us to the Caribbean and the enigmatic character of Sir Henry Morgan. When (if??) I find the time, I hope to self-publish this, and will make any announcements about it on this website first. So, like James Bond, Matthew Quinton will return!