Regular readers of this blog may recall that I had done a review of the
based-on-fact historical novel "The Shenandoah Affair" by Paul Williams
back in March of 2011 which can be read at
A few months after that posting I was contacted by the novel's author
himself who thanked me for the rave review. A little later on I did a
review of another of Paul's books "Matthew Brady & Ned Kelly: Kindred
Spirits, Kindred Lives" and I did an e-mail interview with him regarding
the book which can be found at http://elevenmilecreek.blogspot.com/2011/08/matthew-brady-ned-kelly-kindred-spirits.html.
Paul and I became regular correspondents and fast friends in the
ensuing months. Paul expressed a desire to re-release "The Shenandoah
Affair" this year (2012) as it marked the 20th anniversary of it first
being published. To that end Paul has rewritten and enhanced the book and has added extensive author's notes. These notes runs to well over 12,000 words. It is like getting two books for the price of one.
I was able to help by doing what I do best -
research in old newspapers, archives and books - which augmented Paul's already extensive study. I also helped with proof-reading and being an all round sounding-board. The novel, that was an excellent read before, is even better now
with a new and more factual ending (in the original he had the
Shenandoah blowing up for literary effect. In this new edition that
event does not happen and the course is set for the real events to
unfold). At the end of the novel, the author's notes, entitled "The True Story of the Cruise of the CSS Shenandoah" tells of the trip Paul took to the United States from his native Australia in the early 90s in a quest for more information for his novel. What he found out, though it confirmed some of his earlier deductions, was quite astonishing to him and eventually more pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. When he began research for the 20th anniversary edition of the book he uncovered what caused Captain James Iredell Waddell of the C.S.S. Shenandoah to circumnavigate the globe and head for Liverpool (despite a mutinous crew who were horrified at the prospect of attack by a Federal cruiser) after hearing of the end of the Civil War, rather than go to the nearest safe port. All of that is given in full detail.
For those who have read the book,
you need to read it again and for those who have not read it, I highly recommend that you get a copy. The Author's Notes are worth the price of admission
alone. (One advisory, the book has some rather erotic passages so it's
not recommended for children nor for those who wish to avoid that type
of romantic writing.)
The Shenandoah Affair by Paul Williams is available through Amazon.com.
(Note: Please but sure to get the 2012 edition to get the added author's notes, as some re-sellers on the net are offering the original book from 1992.)
Now, here are a few thoughts from Paul Williams:
When commencing research on the Shenandoah back in 1990 for a first novel, having only written screenplays before, I had no idea what an amazing journey I was embarking on, a journey that would rewrite the story of the Shenandoah. When I first read of the angry Mrs Nichols leaving the ship saying "I wish that steamer may be burned" it was my intention to have her involved in a gunpowder plot to destroy the vessel. [Mrs. Nichols was a real-life Yankee "prisoner of war" after her and her husband's ship was captured and burned] But what a different picture emerged when I started sifting through the documents! Firstly a true love story unknown to history, and then 20 years later, when researching for a new edition with your invaluable help, the true reasons for the Shenandoah being the only Confederate ship to circumnavigate the globe. And it all went back to the beguiling Lillias Nichols. As I said, an amazing journey.