It’s been a while – for which, apologies. But my absence is at least partly explained by the project I’d like to tell you about now (I’ve also been working on a new book, which is finished and set for spring 2016, but I’ll tell you about that another time).
I’ve teamed up with my old friend Tim Wright to conduct?an experiment in reading.?We?re planning to have an adventure by means of a book. The book in question is The Riddle of the Sands, the first spy novel. It was written in 1903, and it takes place between the dates of September 23 and October 26 in an unspecified year.
It starts in London, it finishes in Amsterdam, and in between our two heroes, Carruthers and Davies, sail their way from the Baltic to the North Sea, via the Kiel Ship Canal, and uncover an extraordinary plot among the windswept and tide-drenched East Frisian Islands.
That?s their adventure. Our adventure is to follow in their footsteps: to visit the same places, in the same timeframe as they did, to try and experience the world through their eyes, to try and make this vivid, extraordinary, riveting book come alive again.?We call it taking a book for a walk, and we?d like you to join us.
How? Well, to start with,?you can visit our website, the Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club. There’ll you’ll discover the text of the book, and a whole range of stuff we’ve dug up about its background – the history, the literature, the methods of travel. You can read about Danish princesses, German champagne, Flushing steamers and northern anchorages. Each week, we move forward in the book by another day, and try and dig deeply into what’s going on.
Also on the Adventure Club website is our weekly podcast, in which we try smoking pipe tobacco, sample naval grog and interview people who know things we don’t – from spy novelists, to transatlantic sailors.?Our?sixth podcast went?online this week (it’s available on?SoundCloud?and on iTunes), and includes a tasting of German Sekt (not from the bilge), everything you ever wanted to know about Danish princesses, and a possibility of us all heading off to re-enact the Battle of Als.
All this is leading up to September 23 this year, when we plan to start reliving the action of the book, in exactly the same timeframe. Yesterday, we announced that we?re working with Unbound, the innovative publisher of crowd-funded books, to raise the money to set out on the adventure for real in September, and ultimately publish the Handbook Edition of ?The Riddle of the Sands?.
For full details of how you can support us on Unbound, please go to http://unbound.co.uk/books/riddle-of-the-sands.
?10-?25 ENTRY LEVEL: The Adventure Club will be free right up to the point we leave for Flensburg. But from September 23 2015, you?ll need to be a supporter of the Unbound project to get onto the site. For ?10, we?ll give you access, so you can follow us live, day by day, as we take on the Adventure for real.?For ?25 you get the Handbook proper (including the text of the original novel). Other reward levels include a Field Audiobook and a deluxe ?Navigator? edition of the book.
SPREAD THE WORD: Please pledge what you can at http://unbound.co.uk/books/riddle-of-the-sands, but even more importantly do spread the word about the Unbound offer, and about all the good stuff we?re doing on riddleofthesands.net.
Tell your sailing chums, tell the lovers of this classic novel, tell history buffs, tell Childers fans, tell people interested in exploring northern Germany, tell people who are interested in new forms of digital storytelling. Please, spread the word.
And please sign up to be an active member of the Adventure Club online at riddleofthesands.net.?We are so enjoying sharing this adventure with the people on there. I really hope you?ll join us.