December 10, 2015

A Parallel Adventure: a guest post by N.M. Scott, author of "The Amazing Journey of Humphrey Wilkes"

by N.M. Scott
As a lifelong cyclist, I have never yet had a serious accident, although I do know people who have been knocked off their cycle and saved by wearing a cycle helmet.
My novel, ‘The Amazing Journey of Humphrey Wilkes’, has two major themes running throughout, that is (a) the aftermath of a serious Edwardian R.T.A. involving a bus and a cyclist in Cambridge, i.e. the challenge facing medical staff as they fight for the patient’s survival and (b) a parallel adventure embracing the absolute physical and mental stamina demanded of the explorer in the face of appalling adversity.
To begin with, while under anaesthetic and being operated on for a traumatic head injury (Humphrey is encased in ice to stabilise life-support), his mind, his personality enters a dreamscape in which he finds himself active and uninjured, and able to communicate his emotions. He is on a journey that begins in the frozen Arctic where not only will he have to be confronted by environmental dangers, but far, far worse…the threat of supposedly perished explorers, famous expedition members now become predatory vampires to a man, given a more realistic aspect of course because of historical association.
Thus, in the first part of my book, each new challenge Humphrey encounters in this (to him) very real, unfolding dream-state mirrors the tough battle being fought in the real world by surgeons in Cambridge to save his life and prevent organ failure and death on the operating table.
When he is eventually removed to the Edwardian equivalent of intensive care, being ‘critical’ and unconscious and confined to a hospital bed – the journey, his adventure in this parallel world, continues to play out.
During a ferocious skirmish with Captain Crozier he will be dramatically saved and befriended by a female vampire, the very lovely Lucy Eldridge, and ably assisted and advised during his time on the Great Ice Plateau by our hero of the piece, the late but very famous explorer Sir John Franklin (himself not a vampire).
Eventually Humphrey travels south to what I freely admit is a very ‘Hammer House of Horror Films’ inspired Bavarian-style village of Karstein set in the German principality of Volknik, best described as ‘Hallow’eenville’ where exists Castle Vratnik, home to a pair of truly cruel and extremely ancient Germanic vampires – Baron von Reitz and his wife Irene… Poor Wilkes will suffer much at the hands of these two, as he will from a clever witch, but they offer an extremely frightening plot twist in the finale.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a hero of mine, like Humphrey in the book exemplifies the spirit of stubborn and magnificent stiff upper lipped resilience in the face of wholesale adversity, but another inspiration for my novel came from a somewhat unlikely source, for Sir David Attenborough in one of his superb programmes (DVDs) devoted to Arctic wildlife emerges from a brief visit into Scott’s Expedition hut (then recently meticulously restored) and one naturally expects the presenter to wax lyrical, to expound enthusiastically on the glories of timber preservation. Instead we see Sir David for one of the only times in his long T.V. career mildly unnerved, exclaiming the place (Scott’s hut) ‘gave him the creeps and he can’t wait to get away from there (or words to that effect) and this possibility that the past ambience of long deceased, famous expedition members still exists (perhaps dear reader, by means of some diabolical resurrection they roam the ice shelf in search of human prey) really got me fired up to write the novel.
N.M. Scott was born and educated in south London, and after a career in advertising moved to Rottingdean, East Sussex, where he now lives and works. He maintains a lifelong interest in the history of transport, along with church architecture and, of course, the ‘Canon’ of Sherlock Holmes. This is his seventh book with Book Guild. Also Available are N.M Scott’s Sherlock Holmes titles: The Russian Connection (9781846249556), A Case at Christmas (9781846246470), Disquiet at Albany (9781909984295 and Murder on the Santa Special (9781909984646)

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