A Guided Tour Through My Novel – Part 2


I have begun putting up a series of images that have helped inspire me in writing my novel The Mechanician’s Apprentice. The following are samples that relate to Part 2 of the story with some description and the thoughts and ideas behind each.


A world map from the peak of the British Empire. I love maps, especially old ones, and they crop up frequently through the story. I find the idea of Empires fascinating in that to those within them proclaim they are the greatest thing ever but of course none of those places in red on the map put their hands up and asked to join the British Empire, they were all taken by force. The illustrations around this map of all the different peoples of the world intrigues me as well, on similar maps I’ve seen labels such “red skins” and “blackfellows”.


An early steam powered ship. The majority of Part 2 of the story takes place at sea on a ship very much like this one, sails and steam – she is called the Northern Splendour.


The engine room of a steam ship. Clearly a place of toil and risk but there’s something quite beautiful and organic about the layout of the different pipes and pistons in the foreground, almost as if they grew themselves. Whoever built this also took the time to paint on those vivid reds and greens and I love that about Victorian-era industry is that they always spent that extra time decorating things.


This is the ward room of the RRS Discovery, the ship that carried Scott and Shackleton to the Antartic and became their home for several years once they became trapped in the ice. The Discovery and her story provide a massive source of inspiration for this section of the story. In my mind, this room and the attached cabins pretty much exist exactly like this aboard the Northern Splendour.


The heroine of our story doesn’t appear until Part 2 and this painting sums up a lot of how I wanted her to be – young and well off and therefore innocent to the realities of the world. The young man next to her could also easily be my main character (although he should be a little scruffier) and the lovely little scene captures the idea of these two youngsters heading off into the wide world for a great adventure for the first time. Of course once they’ve left the comfort and luxury of this room, things are going to be very different from what they expected.


Another image from the Discovery’s journey to Antartica. I really like how the men we here are continuing to present an air of intellect and respectability respect being clearly exhausted and haggard. You wouldn’t think it but this is aboard ship – just look at the jars of samples and things behind them.


A painting of an early outpost on Greenland (I believe). This is clearly a lot early than my target time period but nicely illustrates the “taming” of this rough land. The Europeans are trying to set things up how they would be at home and carry on as usual but this is clearly an unforgiving land but almost doesn’t want them to be there. Also the slicing up of the whale interests me in that the majority of us will find that very upsetting yet in those days it was quite acceptable and almost admirable. I have another photo showing three men standing proudly atop the carcass of the sperm whale they’ve brought ashore. Ultimately this doesn’t look a comfortable place to be.


A portrait of Puccini. This provides another illustration of the wonderful way in which men dressed but I also wanted to convey that not everyone of import in this world is necessarily a scientist or a technologist. A character in this party of this story is an Italian composer and his delicate nature contrasts against that of the mechanicians. There’s also a hint of melancholy in Puccini’s eyes here.


A collection of line drawings of crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans. They although look very monstrous and otherworldly. I recently visited an aquarium where they had a giant spider-crab, the thing’s body was bigger than my head and it’s limbs longer than my forearms – it creeped me out. Things like that just shouldn’t get to that sort of size… just imagine if they got even bigger.


That’s it! A whistle stop tour through the ideas behind Part 2 of the book. A great journey into the unknown where our heroes will be tested both by the elements, nature and each other.

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Published in: on August 12, 2011 at 10:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

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