Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyKindling

  • Sun, 23 Mar 2014 09:54:42    Permalink
    In 1996 I got a call from colleague Owen Kubik who runs an eponymous  book business in the Midwest. He told me he had an interesting manuscript, but that he needed some assistance figuring out what it was and selling it. I was able to help him do both.
    It turned out to be the journal of a young navy office who went out to capture the perpetrator of one of the bloodiest mutiniesin American maritime history. I sold the journal for good money to a museum, and everyone was happy.
    A few years later, my first book had just come out and I was casting about, without any luck, for a new writing project. Then one day it hit me. The manuscript I'd sold five years earlier provided new, and exciting, information about a fascinating and gruesome event. That would be my next book.
    My agent liked the idea, so I wrote up a crackerjack proposal and sold the project to Little, Brown for a handsome six figure advance (those were the days). The money gave me the leisure and the latitude to engage in the most engrossing and enjoyable research project of my life.
    I traveled through archives in Washington DC, Nantucket, and Edgartown tracing the histories of the whale ship Globe and the navy ship, the Dolphin, that chased it. I traveled through the Midwest tracking down the source of the mysterious journal and learning about the life of the navy officer who wrote it. Then, to top everything off, my photographer son and I went out to Mili Atoll,a flyspeck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to research the mutiny on the whaleship Globe.
    An ancient twin engine prop plane flew us from Majuro in the Marshall Islands to a long strip of grass on Mili Atoll's biggest islet. The door opened and oven-like heat poured in. A crowd of strange looking people waited to greet us. The pilot told us he'd be back in a week, and took off. No one on the island spoke English. But the kids all played basketball, and they all knew how to say, "Michael Jordan." It was the most exotic week I've ever spent, and one of the most fun. The ultimate father-son adventure. In some respects the atoll was just as the mutineers must have found it. 
     And yet it bore terrible scars from the devastation of World War II. Carcass of a Japanese "Betty" bomberIn the end I got my story and wrote my book. It came out to good reviews, then came out again in jazzy paperback form, and then sank beneath the waves like the Pequod at the end of Moby Dick. It's been out of print for years.
    Then, just last month, my agent asked me if I wanted to turn it into an e-book. I said, "Sure!" so we dug up the text and had it formatted as an Amazon Kindle product. Even got a new cover. It'll be available by next month. Yours for only $3.99.The wonders of Amazon!
    Here's a very cool item that came in recently. You will not be seeing it on Amazon anytime soon.Contents of a "dead man's chest"Navigating the East Indian & Chinese Seas
    "Log Kept on Board Brig Industry by Jacob Stone Master - Began November the 20 - 1803. Departure from Cape Ann... Jacob Stone." Folio, unpaginated. About 200 pages of manuscript entries. Sewn signatures bound in sailcloth, with remains of old leather carrying pouch titled "Log Book of Capt. Jacob Stone 1803" in gold.
    According to the "History of the Marine Society of Newburyport", Stone was a pioneer in the East Indies trade. "Stone made the first entry in the Newburyport Custom House, with a cargo from the East Indies in the brig Industry, March, 1805." This is his log of that historic voyage - to Calcutta (where they arrived July 23, 1804), via Batavia, and back to Newburyport. The log ends on December 26, 1804, in the South Atlantic, 104 days from India. Stone keeps a close record of position, course, sail handling, ships spoken, landmarks, and events on board. Though he does not include port logs in Batavia and Calcutta, he goes into considerable detail about finding anchorages and navigating the Hooghly River. Also of interest is a 41 page manuscript Stone has written at the back of his log - "Remarks from the Instructions on the Navigation of the East Indian & Chinese Seas by Mr. DeApres de Manne Villette." This is probably a transcription or adaptation of Joseph Huddart's 1801 English translation of D'Apres de Mannevillette's "Oriental Navigator." The fact that Stone copied it at such length is evidence of what an important text it was. The log itself begins with an inventory of the effects of "Mr Joseph Cary, Deceased." As was the custom when a man died at sea, his effects were inventoried and then sold to the crew. A detailed and informative document of America's early involvement in the East Indies trade. Writing clear and legible. $4500

Looks like you are ready to submit this application

If you are satisfied that your application is complete, go ahead and click "submit this application."
Otherwise, click "review this application" to review your answers or make additional changes.