Friday, July 21, 2017

My Story Arc by Katherine Pym

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David and Sarah Kirke live in a time of upheaval under the reign of King Charles I who gives David the nod of approval to privateer French Canadian shores. When Louis XIII of France shouts his outrage, King Charles reneges.

After several years, the king knights David and gives him a grant for the whole of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Soon, David is carried in chains back to England. He entreats Sara to manage the Ferryland plantation. She digs in and prospers, becoming the first entrepreneur of Newfoundland.

I write historical fiction based in London during the 17th century and try very hard to have the history as correct as possible. Only when sources conflict with each other, do I choose one that seems the most likely. I also hope that source I choose is the most correct.  

At first, when given the honor to write about Newfoundland, I did not think I’d come up with much history in the 17th century, but as I dug, I was amazed at the plethora of information that surfaced. Gervase Kirke and his wife had several sons and two daughters. They ran a successful wine merchant company. 

The family was litigious, with their papers and letters archived so we can read them. They argued with their peers and superiors. David Kirke (our hero) butted heads with King Charles I over the spoils he’d collected while in Quebec. He wanted to be governor of Newfoundland, and saw his opportunity when Lord Baltimore gave up his Avalon Province in lieu of a warmer climate. 

This is good-story-stuff.  With this, I could write a novel based around Newfoundland’s history. 

The Cutty Sark
I’ve had readers remark how often David and Sara travelled from London to Ferryland NL, but if you look at a map, you’ll see Newfoundland sticks into the Atlantic quite a distance. Google says it is 2345 miles from London to Ferryland, NL. The Cutty Sark once sailed 2163 nautical miles in six days. Data shows ships crossed from the Channel to Northern Canada in as short of a time as 4 weeks. Not bad. 

As merchants, the Kirkes found great opportunity in the new world. In London, they fitted their ships for sail, carrying goods from England and Europe, then traveled to the Americas, spanning that coast from Newfoundland down to Barbados and the West Indies, where they would trade goods, then sail to the Mediterranean or back to England. These trips would take a good deal longer than 4 weeks. 

17th Century Ships of Sail
So, with this historical data and my 30 years study of the 17th century, the story arced on its own. It grabbed what I unearthed and ran with it. 

Many thanks to Wikicommons, Public Domain


  1. Thank you for more background on your delightful book. I too was amazed how Kirke seemed to hop on over to Newfoundland from England as if he was commuting! LOL... Just weeks of arduous travel would deter me from making the trip so often. I enjoyed learning about this upsetting time in England and how it tied into the settling of Newfoundland.

  2. Boy does this look like a good one! :)

  3. Fascinating story. Love those ship pics.