My current WiP, Everything that Never Happened, is set mainly aboard a small 17th-century sailing vessel, a square-rigged ketch named the Mandalay. It’s not a coincidence that it’s a square-rigged ketch, just like the historical Nonsuch; ever since the first time I visited the Nonsuch gallery in the Manitoba Museum, I’ve been fascinated by the ship. I’m not a nautical type; I’ve spent my entire life on the prairies, and have seen ocean a total of three times. But something about the ship has always stuck in my mind, and I find myself constantly returning to it.
Maybe it’s just the name. I’m a sucker for a good name.
Anyways, sometime in February it occurred to me that, to really understand the Mandalay and her crew, I might be wise to learn more about the Nonsuch. I sent an email to someone at the Manitoba Museum, asking for any information they could give me, and also asking about tours. I received some information in the mail, a recommendation that I check out a book by Laird Rankin, who’s something of an expert on the Nonsuch, and an offer of a tour. To trim a long story to a short one, I went on a tour of the ship on Monday. Since the museum was closed, it was a quite private tour.
I spent three hours on and around the ship, asking questions of Robert, the museum’s resident Nonsuch expert. I learned a lot, and I took a lot of pictures. Some aspects of my story are greatly clarified for me now. Some of the things Robert told me will find their way quite directly into the novel.
And now I’ll get back to writing it…