Army deserter Abel de Santiago has all but avenged his murdered wife, when he is captured and sold as a galley slave. As the Spanish Armada sails for Calais Roads in May 1588, there cannot be a soul aboard more reluctant than him.
After a crushing defeat to the English fleet, the Spanish ships are battered by extraordinary storms. Santiago soon finds himself washed ashore in Ireland, a country terrorised by men that the natives call Sassenachs.
Santiago’s faint hopes of survival appear dashed when he is captured by the brutal Sheriff of Sligo, who has orders from Dublin to torture and kill all Spanish castaways.
An unlikely twist of fate leaves Santiago fleeing Sligo with a jewelled ring worth a King’s ransom. His escape leads to a desperate chase across a strange and stunning land, where danger lurks at every turn.
So begins THE SHERIFF’S CATCH, being Part 1 of THE SASSANA STONE PENTALOGY
‘I am sorry, Abel. I know how much you loved my sister.’
Too tired to even acknowledge his words, I exhaled wearily and leant my shoulder against his. For a few moments our ragged breaths sounded as one, with the hiss of the heavy rainfall outside being only exceeded by the creak of the ship’s beams. We then proceeded to exchange our last words, as a hoarse whisper left my swollen lips.
‘What are they waiting for? It’s been five days already.’
Maerten jerked his chin at the rower beside me.
‘And we’re running out of food…’
I turned to face the tall Algerian strokesman to my right, whose lips were frothed at the sides whilst his eyes rolled violently. In recent days he had boiled with campaign fever, so that his arms hung by his sides and his tattooed cheeks had turned a bright red. Disease had rendered Esteban a helpless invalid, and that same morning I had picked all hidden rinds and pieces of biscuit from the folds in his clothes.
Before falling ill the Algerian’s malice towards us had been so great that we were still seized by a sudden dread whenever his head sagged towards us. Often had I hoped to catch the vicious strokesman unawares with an oar blow, to then throttle him with my chains. These murderous urges had only been checked because of Dimas, who would have seized on such foul play to see me swing from the yardarm. For during our months at sea the overseer had often threatened us with hanging, and throughout the voyage his threats had rarely proved idle.
‘Looks like the bastard won’t see out the day…’ said my Flemish companion, as Esteban’s head swirled away from us.
The hoarse whisper was cut short when our ship lurched sideways, shortly followed by the sound of footsteps. We threw ourselves upon our oars and feigned sleep, when one of the kitchen slaves appeared down the hold. We instantly made out Costa wobbling like a drunken sailor, clumsily sidestepping rowers who lay in his path.
‘Hey there, Costa!’ hissed Maerten, ‘what news from above?’
Costa bit his lower lip as a sign for us to keep silent, then tottered over with a crate held in both hands. He proceeded to place bowls of maggot strewn curd on our bench, but Maerten flipped them over without a second glance. Costa ignored the Fleming’s gesture, for the one-eared slave had himself advised us to starve, rather than touch the putrid servings that he brought to us from the kitchen.
He then looked over each of his shoulders, before reaching inside his cloak and holding out a palm full of sawdust towards us. The Fleming and I greedily picked the weevils out it and swallowed them whole, while the kitchen slave muttered to us beneath his breath.
‘Confusion still reigns above deck. There is one hell of a tempest brewing.’
Just dropping you a quick line to let you know that I received an email from the copy-editor this morning.
It starts off like this:
The first thing to say is the most important: I really enjoyed this. I love a good historic adventure, and this delivers it. Your research is hugely impressive, but you have managed to wear it lightly and, as a by-product of the action…
With the novel in its last stages of editorial development, I thought I’d introduce another patron who gave me a hand with this project through his extensive knowledge of 16th C Irish history.
I first came in contact with Scott Cross after joining the 16th Century Military History (1499-1604) Facebook group in December of 2013. It’s one of countless special interest groups that are sweeping…
Caught up with my old mate today, that most shadowy and peripheral of figures who calls himself 'Slum Lord'. We were lunching away at our favourite wayside inn, when he asked me a question that I've also heard from a few others of late:
'So where's the novel at mate?'
Slum Lord is, after all, also a generous patron. He was happy to hear the latest, and I then wondered…
Pardiez! Look what I found!
Been in a daze for a week and a half, and just reopened the laptop to send my brother-in-law a nightly birthday message. Only to find a reply from Unbound's Structural Editor!
Well done. This is just great. Bravo.
I'm so impressed with what you've done here. You've really put your back into it.
I can see you've taken on…
Dear tercio del patrón,
I've not forgotten your steadfast support and valour in the face of slim and terrifying odds, and I have long since been working late nights to ensure that this tercio's faith is repaid in full!
In case any of you missed it, I just thought I'd let you know that I sent the revised manuscript back to Unbound's structural editor for review last Sunday, at circa 11pm AEST…
Hi guys, thought I’d write you all a little update
I've been a bit under the pump during the last month, practically living under a rock like a hermit all over again. I can’t believe that as of 2am tomorrow AEST, there’s just one week left to the close of the three month crowdfunding / presales window!
As you may recall, the crowdfund target of £4000 was achieved in just 5.5 days, thanks…
Structural report finally received from Unbound Editorial Desk on my birthday (in AEST time)!
Starts off as follows:
The setting is brilliant. I am a real fan of historical action adventure as a genre, and I have written some myself for the screen. I think that the Armada and the shipwreck and Sevilla before are all brilliant - perfect for this kind of story. So, I absolutely applaud your…
A certain Sunday in May found me plonked on the couch in my living room. I decided to check out my novel trailer again on my smartphone, smiling at the bit towards the end where the howling of wolves can be heard. I was still grinning foolishly at the YouTube screen when a familiar voice piped up.
‘Are there definitely wolves in Ireland?’
I turned to stare at my Dublin-born wife in…
Breaking: the revised manuscript (MS) has just been sent to Unbound’s editorial team!
With the crowdfund achieved so swiftly, we now enter Phase 2, or what I have half-jokingly, half-fearfully referred to in recent days as: Literary Boot-Camp!
I had a chat about my aims and hopes with the assigned UK-based structural editor last week, in which he requested that I also forward him a brief synopsis…
Presales still coming through, slowly gathering for the next push of pike! Heartfelt thanks to all generous patrons now including the wonderful Steph Demarco, Daniel Bianchi, Nicky Bianchi, Jan Muscat, Kathrina Farrugia-Kriel, Chris Mifsud, Ricardo Vasquez, Peter Saliba, Lorraine Farrugia, Robert Day, Paul Croci and John Zappia!
Thanks so much guys, can't wait for you all to get your special edition…
With the crowdfunding target achieved so quickly, I thought I'd introduce a few of the patrons backing ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’, who are personally known to me and who gave me a special hand with this project.
First cab off the rank is the Nepalese film director and producer Sabin Gnawali. An ambitious fellow currently living in Sydney, Sabin is the son of a Nepalese cop who grew up watching…
Another whirlwind day in a campaign that nearly gave me a heart attack!
100% in 5.5 days. I can't believe it. Actually make that 103%! My head is still spinning, and that's not only from the champers I smashed after work with a few wonderful friends and patrons who also work in the Sydney CBD:
Truly the best thing about writing is the people you meet, as well as the interactions and adventures…
A single hour from the end of day 5 and the odds against us have been slashed! A crucial day in the campaign in which the jaw-droppingly generous patronage simply rocketed ahead - we're on the home straight now folks!
Can't really do more to communicate the incredible events of the day than to share the screenshots reflecting today's progress:
Hi all really don't mean to be pushy but erm...well...we are already at 80% of presales secured so don't say I didn't warn you! :o
Thanks so much Barbara Azzopardi & dear Aunty Doris - it just had to be you to issue the bugle blast through cousin Peter! :) xxx
Many thanks again to all patrons!!!
We're almost at an hour from the end of Day 4, and are at 74%! Just can't believe it!
If someone told me last week that we'd have raised three quarters of the $ by the end of the fourth day of the crowdfunding campaign, I'd have laughed in their face! After all, it was only on Wednesday that I was joking with my dear friend Maty at work: 'I hope that at least my mom buys a copy'…
Well, what a last couple of days it's been!
In ten years of writing I’ve been nowhere near these highs. ‘The Sheriff’s Catch’ is still trending at number 1 on leading UK crowdfunding publisher Unbound’s platform, across all categories which include 375 (published and unpublished) projects.
White hot stuff.
The patronage to date has been quite simply unbelievable. We went live on Unbound…
Just thought I'd take a break from all the non-stop social media jazz to drop you all a line.
We are now 20 mins away from the end of day 2 since launch and the last couple of days have been...well...a bit silly! I keep telling myself to keep my feet on the ground but trending hard at no. 1 on the leading UK crowdfund platform is quite nuts! Not to mention that we are now well beyond…
We're 6 hours from the first 48 hours since launch and I've just got to share that not only are we well on our way past the halfway mark, but that we are now up to ONE HUNDRED PATRONS!
But wait, that's not all!
We are still trending at NUMBER ONE across ALL categories on UNBOUND!
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH - A FRIDAY NIGHT TO REMEMBER!
Two minutes to midnight and I'm absolutely shattered after late nights spent preparing everything for the launch of the presales campaign of The Sheriff's Catch. We're just two hours short of the first full 24 hours of this campaign and I cannot believe that we are already up to 46% of the crowdfund target!
I mean I knew that all of my Maltese, Australian, Kiwi, British etc mates were a quietly…
Hello everybody, URGENTLY NEED A HAND!
Would appreciate you taking a second to promote my novel by simply clicking on the below link and then hitting your preferred social media button!
Only need 54 more clicks to be able to unleash a veritable LIGHTNING BOLT across our vast social media skylines!
COME ON JOIN THE THUNDER!!!
PS and if you can share the…
Posted on my social media 6 hours ago today:
Hello all it's a bit past 2pm here in Sydney, 12 hours / literally a half day since launch and already THE SHERIFF'S CATCH has flown out of the blocks sprinting to a THIRD (gulp!) of the required funding to make this dream a reality!
Here I am lunching with generous supporter David Spiteri, now also a patron whose name will be forever inscribed…
These people are helping to fund The Sheriff's Catch.