Injustice – Spring prize-winning fiction
Original fiction by Ralph Jackman
Chosen by guest judge, Joan Szechtman, “Injustice” was first published on the Historical Novel Society website on 1st May, 2012. Ralph Jackman is the recipient of the HNS Spring Fiction prize.
Ralph Jackman was born in Norwich, Norfolk in 1981. He studied Classics at King’s College, London, before completing a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Essex in 2005. Ralph’s work draws on either his lifelong interest in history or his current experience working for the local Police Force. His short story ‘Last Chance Saloon’ will be published in an anthology ‘Crime – Unleashed’ in 2012. Ralph has completed an historical novel ‘Actium’s Wake’, a novella ‘Portraits of Rome’ and is currently working on a Roman Trilogy beginning with ‘The Olive Tree’, a finalist in the Chapter One Promotions 2010 Novel Competition.
‘This,’ said William, the noose pinching his neck, ‘is a very fickle and faithless generation.’
The Church of St. Mary caught his eye. William said a silent prayer. Dear Lord, save my soul.
The minister made the sign of the cross.
The signal was given.
The trapdoor opened.
William heard the rattle of wood. He felt the rush of air as he collapsed towards the ground, then a wrench in his neck. It was the worst pain he had ever experienced.
But then came a pain in his legs and the air was knocked from his body.
Had he just hit the ground?
He couldn’t breathe. A white light flashed in his eyes.
Slowly, he regained his senses. He could hear the raucous shouts and cheers of the mob. The sense of smell convinced William he was still alive. He could smell soil, taste it on his bloodied lips.
He blinked. His vision was blurred, but he could see mud, and people’s feet.
‘Great Mercy of God,’ cried the Minister from the gallows above. ‘It’s an act of God.’
William tried to stand up. But he couldn’t breathe and his legs wouldn’t regain their strength.
William slumped again to the ground. His face pushed into the wet mud. He enjoyed the sensation. He enjoyed being alive. His hands were tied. The noose was still tight around his neck. But William smiled.
Hands gripped beneath William’s arms and dragged him upright.
The crowd cheered.
William choked back tears. He couldn’t believe his luck. The rope had snapped.
William had suffered his share of bad luck. His father died when he was still an infant. William grew up to stories of his father’s exploits on the sea. All William ever wanted to be was Captain of his own ship, just like his father.
It wasn’t long before William grew restless. He couldn’t see how life in Dundee could fulfil him. The dream of a new life in America lured him to leave his mother and dare to cross the Atlantic. As soon as he was old enough, he sailed to New York colony to begin his new life; one burning ambition drove him, to become a sea Captain.
Twenty-five years later, William lived in Wall Street. He was married to the love of his life, Sarah, who just happened to be the richest widow in New York. He was blessed with two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth. He adored both his children. Both were lucky. They had not inherited his long, large nose or oversized bottom lip. But when William looked in a mirror, he didn’t complain.
He owned his own ship. He had claimed prize after prize. But he was no pirate. He had held the letters of marque. He was a privateer, licensed to attack foreign ships.
He had fulfilled his lifetime ambition. He was a sea Captain.
William wasn’t the only Scot in New York. Robert Livingston lived in Albany. As a child he had grown up in the Netherlands. Livingston was a tall man, with pale complexion. His features were thin and pointed and he never put on weight, however much he ate. He was considered to be successful.
But Livingston wanted more. Tales of William’s privateering reached his ears. Livingston had an idea. He pictured Lord Bellomont’s fat jowls wobbling. There was no way that bloated peer could resist. But would William take the bait?
William tore open the seal. He read the letter.
Captain Kidd, if the spirit of adventure still burns. If the sea still calls, if the excitement of sea battles still thrills, if you want to be rich, meet me in London.
William was intrigued. He’d always wanted to go to London. And here he was sitting on an invitation for adventure.
It was only a matter of time. In August 1695 William arrived in London. When he met Livingston, he was surprised to learn that he was a fur trader from Dutch Albany. Yet, fur trader or not, his plan was intriguing.
‘I know a peer who needs our help,’ Livingston began.
‘A peer?’ William replied, supping his wine.
‘Yes, Lord Coote, Earl of Bellomont.’
‘Lord Coote, as in the new governor of New York?’
‘Yes, that Lord Coote.’ Livingston replied, proud to be so well connected. ‘And not just New York. New England and New Hampshire too and the King has charged him with a simple mission. To defeat the pirates.’
William smiled. He knew where the plan was heading. Was he not the most successful privateer on the seas? Had he not captured pirate after pirate?
‘Have you heard of the Roman, Pompey the Great?’ Livingston asked.
William smirked. Pompey the Great was one of his heroes. Pompey had cleared the seas of pirates in only a few months where others had failed for years. He became the richest and most powerful man in Rome.
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘I know him.’
‘The King wants the seas cleared of pirates, pirates like Thomas Tew,’ Livingston said.
‘The Rhode island pirate?’ Kidd said with a smile.
‘The very same,’ replied Livingston. ‘If I can get you a galley, will you Captain the venture. Will you be a modern day Pompey?’
William paused. Thomas Tew was founder of the ‘Pirate Round,’ a route Tew had pioneered with low casualties and high gains. Others had followed. Thomas Wake, John Ireland, William Maze. These were pirates of note. The rewards would surely be alluring.
‘On what terms?’ asked William.
Livingston’s thin lips curved into a smile.
‘The prestige is your reward. The fame. And twenty per cent of everything you claim.’
William should have walked away.
Instead he stroked his long nose in thought. He didn’t need the money. Livingston was right. This was a chance to write his name into history. Captain Kidd, the second Pompey.
He bit his large bottom lip. Sarah would not be pleased.
‘Give me the best galley money can buy, give me oars and I’ll clean the seas. William Kidd will be your Captain.’
Livingston held out his hand, his restless mind already calculating his potential share.
William shook it.
Lord Bellomont left Livingston waiting in the drawing room whilst he finished his dinner. Indigestion was a constant gripe, but he ignored it as he ploughed through his pudding. He was just glad to have his appetite back. Ever since his new commissions he had lost his usual lust for food. It might have been an honour and a privilege to serve the King. But William III had left no doubt as to his expectations of Lord Bellomont.
At last, he received Livingston.
‘Welcome Livingston,’ Lord Bellomont began, ‘so pleased to see you.’ His sibilant speech impediment sent spittle across the room.
Livingston didn’t dare wipe it from his face.
‘My lord, I come with a proposition,’ he said.
‘A proposition?’ replied Lord Bellomont.
‘Yes, you are charged with clearing the seas of piracy.’
‘I am,’ replied Bellomont, pushing his chest forward.
‘If you provide the warship, if you finance a new galley with guns and oars, I will give you a Captain who will clear the seas and make you a rich man.’
‘How much is a galley? And guns?’
‘Six thousand pounds.’
‘Six thousand…’ Bellomont flushed. The indigestion stabbed in his chest. ‘Six thousand,’ he said again. ‘That’s a large undertaking. Even if you had Captain Kidd, at twenty per cent of each ship he claims, it would take—’
‘Not only can I give you Captain Kidd. I can offer you seventy per cent of the returns.’ Livingston had decided not to be greedy. Ten per cent was a fair share to keep to himself.
Bellomont stared at Livingston.
‘You are serious?’ he asked. ‘Captain Kidd will be my Captain?’
‘He’s rich already. He seeks fame, not fortune.’
Bellomont crossed the room to the ornate fireplace. He looked at the portrait above. He was pleased with the work. The red and white robes of state suited him.
‘He would risk his life purely for fame?’ Bellomont asked.
‘Fame,’ replied Livingston, ‘and twenty per cent.’
‘Ah,’ said Bellomont. He paused, working the proposition through in his mind. ‘So the Admiralty would take the remaining share.’
‘No, the last ten per cent will be mine,’ Livingston said, trying to control his pounding heart. He could sense Bellomont’s greed was leading him to be persuaded.
‘I am sure King William will waive the Admiralty’s right,’ Livingston continued. ‘If you put forward the initial monies, you are risking your wealth to carry out the King’s duty. At your request, I am sure he will sign the Letters of Marque.’
Lord Bellomont puffed his cheeks. Six thousand pounds was a heavy investment. But there were more than enough Frenchmen and pirates in the Indian Ocean. The clock on the mantelpiece struck five o’clock.
Lord Bellomont thought of a better way. He turned to Livingston.
‘Leave it with me, Livingston. I will have an answer for you by noon tomorrow.’
That night Lord Bellomont summoned his Whig colleagues; The Earl of Romney, the Secretary of State the Duke of Shrewsbury, Lord John Somers and the First Lord of the Admiralty, Edward Russell.
As he awaited their arrival, Bellomont drank generous amounts of brandy. He had been afraid to invite Admiral Russell, but had decided that if he was going to circumvent the law, if he was going to dare not pay the Admiralty, it would be best to have the First Lord of the Admiralty embroiled in the shady undertaking.
Bellomont needn’t have worried. Within an hour, ‘the faithful five’ as they called themselves had agreed to put up the six thousand pounds to build the ship. They toasted their agreement in the candlelight and drank till the early hours.
Five weeks later, Captain Kidd made his way to Deptford on the south bank of the river to see his new warship, the Adventure Galley. His face broke into a smile when he caught his first glimpse of the new craft. He shook his head in disbelief. Five weeks was impossibly swift to build such an impressive thirty-four gun galley.
Three masts, square rigged, soared into the sky. But the Adventure Galley wouldn’t rely on sails alone. She had oars. And plenty of them.
Oars had been a critical part of the deal. It was the oars which would make him the profit. Oars would enable him to manoeuvre the Adventure Galley when the winds had died. And so his enemies would die.
In Captain Kidd’s pocket lay the Privateering licence issued by King William. As planned, the Admiralty wasn’t to get its share. In his other pocket was the list Bellomont had given him. The pirates Captain Kidd had to destroy; Thomas Tew, Thomas Wake, William Maze, John Ireland and many others, as well as instructions to attack any Frenchmen.
All was in place. Captain Kidd felt as happy as he had ever been.
Captain Kidd was not smiling when a convoy of ships appeared on the horizon.
It had been months since he launched from New York in September. And he had no scalps to his name.
He stared through his telescope, struggling to focus on the convoy.
He tried to suppress his excitement that the ships could be fair game. But he could feel his heartbeat quicken. Surely his luck had to change soon.
But not that day. He focused on the flags. It was an East India Company convoy. Worse still, it was being escorted by the Royal Navy.
For the merest second, Captain Kidd considered escape, but the winds were not favourable. And deploying the oars would attract undue attention. He waited for the inevitable encounter.
Commodore Warren stood on deck, absorbing the Adventure Galley for several minutes. Its size confused him. He had not heard of such a galley. And he should know about it, if it was in his waters.
It was suspiciously well armed. He counted the cannons. Thirty four. No one needed thirty-four cannons unless they had dubious intent.
Commodore Warren was a short, stout man. He was proud of the British flag he carried. He was proud to have successfully completed every duty he had been given to date. This escort had proved the most difficult he had commanded. Not through any attack, but through the sickness which had stolen several of his crew from him.
Warren clucked his tongue. The sun was setting on the horizon, casting a bloody hue over the surface of the sea.
Here was an opportunity. He could press the more able crew of this Adventure Galley into service. His own crew would be replenished and the threat of this anomaly on the sea would be reduced.
Captain Kidd raised his eyebrows and scratched the back of his neck in irritation.
‘You’re certain?’ he asked.
‘Yes captain,’ replied William Moore. The gunner of the Adventure Galley was wide-eyed and panting. ‘He wants to press at least thirty men into service.’ He pointed to Commodore Warren’s ship. ‘He looks a mean bastard.’
Captain Kidd raged. No one was taking his crew. But how to stop it happening? He picked up a wooden bucket from the deck. He spun it round in his hands, as he debated what to do.
The crew watched intently.
Kidd had taken enough time. He carefully placed the bucket back on the deck.
‘Well boys, we can’t have a Commodore getting in our way. But we can’t fight our way out of this.’ He put his arm on Moore’s shoulder and gripped tight. ‘No one steals my crew,’ he said with a smile. ‘Tonight, we disappear.’
‘What do you mean disappeared?’ shouted Commodore Warren.
‘They have gone, sir. Sailing west.’
‘Are they in range?’ asked Warren.
The lookout shook his head.
‘There was no wind. How can this have happened?’ The Commodore was already heading for the deck.
But his crew weren’t lying. Warren could see the Adventure Galley on the horizon.
In rage he ordered four frigates to give chase, even though it was futile. He did not tolerate anyone getting the better of him. Certainly not a privateer.
‘You wait till I report you to the Admiralty, Kidd. Then you’ll learn you shouldn’t have crossed me.’
For months, Captain Kidd sailed the Indian Ocean blissfully unaware that he was now a pirate. The Admiralty had received Commodore Warren’s report and damned him in his absence.
On the other side of the world, in India, the captain of the East India convoy also branded Kidd a troublemaker and a pirate.
Stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean, starved of prey, Kidd had no idea that one by one the ports of the East India Company were closing to him.
And still they had no prize.
Each morning Kidd woke knowing that he was one day closer to trouble. There was only so long a crew would stay loyal.
Even the amazing sight of whales breaching beside the ship could do little to raise the spirits. Kidd stared at the dark surface of the water. He could not help but feel that mutiny seethed below the surface like the creatures of the deep.
William Moore ignored the whales. He busied himself sharpening a chisel.
Captain Kidd roused from his gloom, reached for his telescope.
‘This time, please God, this time.’
But his eyes fell on the flag of the Dutch.
‘Damn!’ he shouted.
He sensed the crew gather around him.
‘No prize today, boys,’ he said.
But no one moved away.
Captain Kidd sighed. This was the moment he knew would come.
William Moore stepped in front of his Captain, chisel still clenched tight in his hand.
‘Let’s take her, Cap’n,’ he said. His eyes were wide, maniacal.
‘She’s Dutch, Moore. We can’t touch her.’
‘But we’re starving, Cap’n. And we haven’t had so much as a sniff of a prize.’
Moore squared up to his Captain.
‘Stand back you lousy dog,’ Kidd bawled.
But Moore did not step back. He leaned into Kidd, until Kidd could barely stand the stench.
‘If I am a lousy dog,’ Moore hissed, ‘you have made me so.’
Captain Kidd’s eyes fell on the chisel, pointing at his stomach. Then they fell on the iron wrought bucket on the deck.
The anger of the failed adventure surged through him. Before Moore could react, Kidd had grabbed the bucket and heaved it round in a vicious arc. The iron cracked into Moore’s head. He fell. The chisel dropped to the deck and rolled gently away.
‘Anyone else?’ Captain Kidd snarled.
The crew dared not move.
Kidd dropped the bucket and retreated to his cabin.
He slumped onto his bed and began to shake.
William Moore never woke up.
The Surgeon pronounced him dead the following day.
Captain Kidd held his face in frustration.
‘I didn’t mean to kill him,’ he said. ‘Just teach him a lesson.’
‘He was holding that chisel, Captain,’ replied the Surgeon.
‘I’m not worried about justifying myself,’ Kidd said. ‘I’m the Captain. But I wish he hadn’t died.’
Captain Kidd caught the Surgeon’s look of concern.
‘If anyone pressed charges, I have good friends in England who would bring me off for that. Have no fear.’ Kidd poured himself a rum. ‘But I am beginning to think this voyage is cursed.’
A few months later, Kidd had changed his mind. Moore’s death brought about a change in fortune.
The Rouparelle hove into view. A genuine French prize. Against the lean and hungry crew of the Adventure Galley with its thirty four guns blazing, it stood no chance.
Within hours, Captain Kidd stood clutching the ‘pass’ he had just prised from the captain’s hand proving that the ship’s cargo belonged to French merchants. The prize was legitimate.
Three months later and Captain Kidd was cock-a-hoop.
‘The curse has lifted,’ he bellowed as he took in the Quedagh Merchant. An enormous Armenian vessel had sailed right into their course. And there was no chance of escape.
‘Raise french Colours,’ he ordered.
The British flag was swiftly replaced with the Tricolore.
The Quedagh Merchant never knew what was coming.
Captain Kidd boarded his prey. His crew had suffered no losses. They were eager to discover how much they had won.
But the Captain had the right. Kidd carefully made his way into the hold. The sight that greeted him forced him to a halt.
Joy swiftly replaced his disbelief. The hold was crammed with silks, muslins and in the corner he could see gold, silver and jewels.
He had won thousands of pounds. Thousands and thousands of pounds. There was enough to pay off the crew, pay off the backers and keep a massive pay off for himself.
‘My God,’ he said to himself, ‘this is the stuff of legend,’ he smirked. He turned to the Surgeon who had followed behind and gasped. ‘Captain Kidd the pirate eh? Not a bit of it. All this, and it’s legal.’
‘Lord Bellomont will squash the piracy claim now for certain,’ replied the Surgeon. ‘He’ll want his share.’
Lord Bellomont dispatched another brandy.
‘Then it is plain. We must wash our hands of Kidd,’ he said, wiping his lips dry with the back of his hand.
‘But the profit?’ asked Lord Somers.
‘Is not worth the trouble,’ replied Admiral Russell firmly. ‘It’s over gentleman. No connection can be made between us and Captain Kidd. Government cannot be seen to be associates of pirates.’
‘But he’s not a pirate. His report clearly states that the prize was legitimate. He has the passes,’ the secretary of state the Duke of Shrewsbury said, still hoping to harvest his share of the prize Kidd had taken.
Lord Bellomont began to laugh. It became almost uncontrollable.
‘Not a pirate,’ he wiped a tear from his eye. ‘Not a pirate, what world are you living in Shrewsbury? Have you ignored the news for the last year? Kidd’s not only a pirate, he’s the most famous pirate in the world. A legend.’
‘Then,’ said Lord Somers, ‘we must obtain those passes, and they must disappear.’
The five noblemen fell silent. Lord Somers was right.
Nevertheless, it did not feel right. Kidd was a good man.
But the choice was their livelihood or his. The choice was simple.
‘Leave it to me,’ said Lord Bellomont.
Kidd knew something was wrong. Where was the embrace? Where was the excitement that a greedy man like Bellomont would have, knowing what Kidd had achieved?
Bellomont was examining the passes. He sat at his desk and said nothing.
Kidd was relieved that he had been cautious.
His hands still had blisters from the digging. The gold and jewels were buried on an island in Long Island Sound.
‘I will have these checked immediately,’ Bellomont said at last. ‘Once proven to be genuine, we shall set about scotching the dreadful rumours that you are a pirate.’
‘Thank you, Lord Bellomont,’ replied Kidd. ‘Now, wouldn’t you like to hear about the prize?’
Lord Bellomont shook his head.
‘Not today, thank you William. I have other pressing matters to attend to.’ He stood up and began guiding William out of the room. ‘All in good time, my friend.’
William felt Bellomont’s flabby hand on his shoulder pushing him to the door.
‘All in good time.’
When the double doors closed behind him, William Kidd couldn’t quite believe what had happened.
Why was Bellomont not desperate to get his hands on the profits?
Why was he so distant?
Three days later, Kidd understood.
He was arrested.
Kidd protested his innocence. No one listened.
Kidd summoned the support of his backers. No one came.
It was only after a month in solitary confinement that Kidd realised the horrible truth. The only evidence he had that he had claimed legitimate prizes, that he was not a pirate, were the passes. The passes that he had handed over to Bellomont.
Five months later, Kidd was to be transferred to England to appear before the House of Commons about his antics. He would then stand trial for piracy and the murder of William Moore.
The night before he was to depart, he had the first visitor he had ever had.
The man was hooded and cloaked.
‘I have come to make an offer,’ the man said.
‘What offer?’ replied Kidd. He was desperate. He would accept anything to get out of prison and return to sea. This time he really would become a pirate.
‘If you reveal where you buried the plunder, then the passes you need will be returned to you.’
Kidd wept. The relief overcame him.
The informer waited patiently for Kidd to recover.
‘Long Island Sound. The northernmost island, on the west side. Fifteen paces south of the clump of three trees.’
The informer repeated the directions.
‘Yes,’ said Kidd. He bit his lip. He didn’t care that he was giving up the wealth. Wealth could be replaced. Freedom couldn’t.
Kidd didn’t notice that the informer had left.
Kidd’s screams filled the prison chambers.
Twelve months of solitary confinement in Newgate prison nearly drove Kidd to insanity.
He was thin and weak.
He clung to life through his belief that once the trial was finally held, he would be freed. Even if he were prosecuted for piracy, he had served his time. And Moore was an accident. No Captain would be convicted.
Somehow the Tories had unearthed that five Whig nobleman had backed the Adventure Galley. In the dark, dank cell, Kidd would have loved nothing better than to bring Bellomont and the faceless five down. But to damn them would confirm that he was a pirate.
He had to stay loyal. And loyalty, Kidd thought, loyalty, especially when put under such strain, should be rewarded.
On 27th March 1701, Kidd faced Parliament. The light of day dazzled him. The questions came in quick succession. Kidd was no longer used to conversation. He could not find witty answers.
‘I am innocent.’ He said to deaf ears.
And when pressed regarding the backers he stuck to the path of loyalty.
‘They did not encourage any wrongdoing. They are gentlemen of honour.’ Kidd forced himself to say. ‘My prizes were legitimate. I had the passes. The prizes were French. That was the King’s commission.’
The chairman of the hearing huffed, disappointed to miss out on a scandal regarding the Whigs.
‘Then William Kidd, you will return to your cell until you stand trial on the 8th of May. You will defend yourself against the charge of the murder of William Moore and five charges of piracy including the seizure of the Quedagh Merchant.’
Kidd was taken aback. Where was his defence counsel? Where was his time to prepare? What evidence had the Admiralty put together in the eighteen months they had had to prepare? It was so unjust.
‘I’m innocent,’ he bawled. ‘I’m innocent.’
‘You will have your time to protest your innocence on the 8th of May,’ replied the chairman.
‘But I need time. You must give me more time. All I need are the passes to prove I’m not a pirate.’
‘Ah yes,’ replied the chairman scornfully. ‘The mysterious passes. They haven’t turned up in the last eighteen months, what makes you think they will magically appear now?’
‘Because loyalty should be rewarded,’ shouted Kidd. ‘Because I have been loyal.’
The chairman frowned. He did not understand.
‘I wouldn’t say you are a loyal man, William Kidd. You are an arch pirate and common enemy of mankind.’
Kidd was speechless.
Kidd was returned to solitary confinement.
Kidd was consumed with hatred at the injustice.
Kidd was powerless.
It was the second day of the trial.
Kidd clapped his hands, interrupting the prosecutor.
‘I will not trouble this court any more,’ he shouted, ‘for it is folly.’
He held his hands out wide in a gesture of despair.
‘You’ve already found me guilty of a murder I did not commit.
‘You’ve produced witnesses who lied before you. I told you I never planned to kill Moore. It was an accident. William Moore was committing mutiny, threatening my life and my act was an act of self defence.’ Kidd stared at the judge.
‘This court is a sham,’ he continued, ‘so be done with it. I’ve served eighteen months of solitary confinement already. What more can you hurt me with? Pass sentence, for heaven’s sake.’
The judge did not hesitate.
‘Then William Kidd, I hereby find you guilty on the three remaining counts. And as such it is my duty to pass sentence. I hereby decree that William Kidd for the murder of William Moore, and for the acts of piracy you have committed, you shall be hanged by the neck until dead.’
Kidd was stunned. ‘My Lord,’ he cried out, ‘that is a very hard sentence. For my part I am the innocentest person of them all.’ He turned to his accusers. ‘I have been sworn against by perjured persons.’
But the hands were already grasping at him.
‘My Lord,’ Kidd bellowed. ‘This is unjust!’
Kidd was dragged from the courtroom.
‘I’m innocent!’ he shouted. ‘I’m innocent!’
The rope had snapped. All that pain. All that suffering. Redeemed by flawed hemp.
Eighteen months of despair. Insult after insult, a corrupt trial, betrayal by those who called themselves gentlemen. And now redemption; a failed execution.
It took a while for Kidd to realise what was happening as he was led back up the steps to the gallows.
He thought he was being paraded to the people, just as he had been paraded through the streets behind the silver Admiralty oar to the execution. Now he stood before the crowd, a redeemed hero.
But the minister who had proclaimed the merciful act of God had disappeared.
Another rope was found.
Another rope was roughly tied about his neck.
Kidd had suffered one last agony of hope.
It broke him. Just as his neck broke at the second drop.
Kidd’s corpse was tied to a stake. His body was smeared with tar. Three tides washed over him, according to Admiralty custom.
Kidd took his last journey on water from Wapping to Tilbury where he was trapped once again behind iron bars. His bloated carcase was constricted into an iron cage and suspended over the Thames.
William Kidd the privateer turned pirate, a warning to others.
A warning to others that men, even gentlemen, are not to be trusted.
About guest editor Joan Szechtman
Although I’ve been an avid reader nearly all my life, I never expected to write because my first career choice was engineering. When I was laid off eight years ago, I discovererd historical fiction and the real Richard III when I read The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. Compelled to find out all that I could about this 15th-century monarch, I began to research and write what has become a trilogy about Richard III in the 21st-century. The first two books are available in paperback and ebook formats, and the third is a work in progress. I am now well into my second career as an independent author. In addition, I have also made my ebooks available to our and allied troops at no cost through a program called Operation eBook Drop. I encourage all authors who have control over their ebook rights to consider participating in this program.
Shortly after starting my research, I joined the American Branch of the Richard III Society. In 2011, I became the editor of the Ricardian Register, the quarterly of the American Branch of the Richard III Society.