Monday, 12 August 2013

Turn a Blind Eye: Research

My sixth book, Turn a Blind Eye was released on August 1st. Although not in the Fighting Sail series - I have new characters, and am basing this one in a revenue cutter - it does include fighting (and indeed, sail!). Last winter I spent an interesting day at the Tide Mills, Newhaven carrying out research. The Tide Mills, which are one of the locations featured in the novel, were in operation from the middle of the eighteenth century and were set almost on the beach to the East of Newhaven harbour. At their peak sixteen mill wheels were being turned for up to ten hours in any tide, and over a hundred workers employed, many living on the site. All that is left of a very green form of energy is foundations, and a few remaining walls, although it is still possible to trace many of the buildings.

William Catt 1776 - 1853

William Catt was responsible for the expansion of the site, and was clearly quite a character. He laid in wait for any workers returning to the village from the nearby inn 'The Buckle', and was reasonably successful in growing fruit trees and vegetables in an area that at best can only be called bleak. It was strangely satisfying to find his house and stand in what would have been his kitchen.

A contemporary map of the area.

Turn a Blind Eye is certainly nautical, but it would have been too long a stretch to include it in the Fighting Sail series. I have wanted to write about the fast and fragile cutters for some while. They waged their own private war on smugglers during the French wars, and there is certainly no shortage of action. The Fighting Sail series, with many of the established characters, will return once this project is completed.



Some photographs taken during my visit are shown below:






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