Now On Sale
Great fun, fast moving and a nice twist to the ending.
Templar Scholar Dr. Robert Lomas
Adventure reading at its best. A spicy, elusive treasure hunt.
Midwest Book Review
A wonderfully exciting roller coaster ride of a book.
Hard-bitten prose should please lovers of the genre.
Historical Novel Society
Post-War Treasure Hunt, Old World Secrets
In the fall of 1947, Will Shakespeare saw the world collapse around him. Shakespeare, a secret soldier for the Knights Templar, barely escapes the slaughter of his entire knighthood at the hands of a rogue militant arm of the Vatican in a small Montreal church.
With orders to escort Templar business associate Dorothy Wilkinson back to her home in Bermuda, Will must locate and rescue the most important secret treasure in human history before it is devoured by a hurricane in the watery caves beneath her father’s property.
The spiraling quest sends Will and Dorothy into uncovering dark secrets that make up the origins of the knighthood as they confront the traps and puzzles that masterfully protect the world’s most coveted treasure.
Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?
Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon is the first of a series of novels about a secret militant order within the Masonic Knights Templar that operate above society in a secret world. This particular book is how one of the surviving members of the order is racing to save the Holy Grail from being devoured by a hurricane while another secret society is trying to stop him. It’s basically Indiana Jones meets Dan Brown. The real impetus for writing it was to explore secret societies from the vantage point of the secret societies. The mainstream point of view on secret societies is generally negative and full of sensational mistruths. After so many years of research, I wanted to cast groups like Masons and Templars in a new light.
How did you come up with the title for Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon?
Titles are very hard for me. I will often have a working title to help frame my thinking and then develop a title from the actual manuscript. Other times, I know the title before the story. In the case of Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, I wanted an “Indiana Jones” feel to emote its action/adventure genre. Also, since the protagonist has such a unique name, it made sense to name it after him, indicating also that this is the start of a series. The Ships of Solomon was an easy “adventure name,” because the climax features ships that belonged to the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon.
Can you tell us about the main characters of Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon?
Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon has two protagonists. First, the title and series namesake, Will Shakespeare and the woman that he is assigned to protect in the novel, Dorothy Wilkinson. The book alternates point of view between the two, strategically done, so that the reader—not knowing any of the secrets or conspiracies—can be introduced to the narrative through Dorothy’s eyes. Whereas much of the “insider” perspective could be served through Will’s eyes. Both characters are fishes out of water—Will, a common foot soldier for the secret order, is saddled with a task far above his pay grade and with no help or support and Dorothy is a colonial daughter of a businessman from Bermuda who’d never stepped foot off the island, let alone been in danger. They are both resilient and adaptable, but Will views the world as a soldier and she as a civilian, so the two wrestle with the realities of their adventure as they get deeper into danger. While they are both adventure heroes in the traditional sense, I believe that there is more complexity and depth to the characters. I don’t particularly like damsel-in-distress formulae and that doesn’t occur in this novel. Also, the action hero is not perfect—making quite a few miscalculations and errors along the way that I believe other stories wouldn’t have allowed to happen. They have a subtle and strange relationship, that when pressed to the limits, forces unique character arcs.
How did you develop your plot and characters?
My characters are in large part created as a result of the plot, as is the nature of the action/adventure genre. The plot came directly from a wonderful piece of fringe non-fiction called “Pirates The Lost Templar Fleet” by David Hatcher Childress. I ruthlessly took many of his ideas and actualized them in fiction, including the Freemason absorption of the original Knights Templar, the Templar treasure moving to the new world under Prince Henry Sinclair and then moved again to the Caribbean by Francis Drake and Francis Bacon. All the good conspiracies came from that book. I certainly embellished quite a bit—including the nature of Oak Island and the meaning of the Holy Grail.
Once I charted out the plot, I determined the ideal time period with the perfect hurricane and went from there. The characters were created to move the plot forward, but I worked to give them texture and depth by keeping motivational undercurrents throughout and making sure the plot changes impacted their character arcs. Interestingly, the protagonist, Dorothy Wilkinson, was taken from the Wilkinson family that discovered and owned the property in Bermuda where the Crystal Cavern is located—just like in the book.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?
I don’t choose to write books, they choose me. I have a laundry list of concepts that must be fleshed out through the process of novel writing and will likely never run into the end of that list. This particular book was a fictional recreation of the compelling theories brought to light by David Hatcher Childress’ “Pirates of the Lost Templar Fleet” and was crafted in a way to show the hysterical conspiracy theorists that freemasons and Templars aren’t necessarily maniacal world-controlling Satanists, but rather integral to the development of the United States and the modern democracies we all currently enjoy.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
As I am not a Freemason, I had a very difficult time getting much of the “insider knowledge” right about freemasons and the Masonic Knights Templar. While much of what I originally conceived was a result of the historic Knights Templar, I had a tremendous amount of help from a master Mason on making sure the nuances and background was accurate, even within the context of conspiracy theories. While I’m certain it can still be picked apart by masons and masonic scholars, I am comfortable with everything being at least plausible given the story’s context.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
One of the reasons I choose to write historical fiction, is that I get to immerse myself in the time period and similarly I love conspiracy theories for the same reason. I learned a great deal about the post-war era, masonry and history. Telling a story in this environment requires ruthless research and fact-checking—a process that continued even past the final manuscript.
Will you write others in this same genre?
The conspiracy-focused historical action/adventure is a genre I’m very comfortable in and already have several books planned that will fit the niche. I am also working in speculative fiction, but that is still benchmarked against conspiracy theories and secret societies—including a fantasy series that is in the works.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I make no pretense that my novel has some sort of higher meaning, however, if there is anything that I’d like readers to take away from Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, not everything in the history books is true. History was created by those who wanted to control the message. It is easy to vilify those that are perceived as being in the wrong, but in the journey for truth it can sometimes be surprising who the villains actually are.
How much of the book is realistic?
In my genre it is very difficult to be “factual,” so I aspire to be “plausible.” The book aims to be as realistic as possible, given the circumstances, and I go through great lengths to introduce (and run with) ideas that could possibly be real, but at minimum, not disproven. It is meant to be exciting and adventurous, not to be enlightening. That said, there is much in there that many scholars believe to be true, even if mainstream academia doesn’t accept it, such as: the arrival of the Scottish to the New World a hundred years before Columbus; a secret war between Knights Templar and the Catholic Church; the transformation the Knights Templar into the Scottish Rite; the true identity of Shakespeare—to name a few.
How important do you think villains are in a story?
I suppose it depends on how you define villains. Antagonists, without a doubt, are integral to a story and, I’d argue, a story cannot exist without one. However, antagonists need not be villains—in other words, need not be “bad.” The more layered and complex the antagonist is, the better. As a matter of fact, antagonists should be every bit as layered and complex as the protagonist. There are many antagonists in Will Shakespeare and the Ships of Solomon, and each with varying levels of “badness.” I particularly like the Barrister, who throughout believes he is in the right and doing God’s work. He believes that all the way until the end. The protagonists in the story make questionable decisions and do not always have same convictions as the Barrister does. “Villains” should struggle with the same non-black/white nature of ethics and morality that we all do. And just because an antagonist is in conflict with our protagonist, doesn’t make the antagonist bad—nor does it make the protagonist good.