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The Greater Gifts

AN-ladyinhfxI’ve never denied being a sentimentalist. I suppose readers know this by now –– Defense Command was secretly a love story, Smith and Waller shared a name, and if you think the Earthers don’t have heart, or that Alex and Stephanie are not truly the closest of friends, you’re mistaken.

Last year, the Iceberg team touched on this sentimentality when they conceived of an incredible gift: a photo book commemorating our Tenth Anniversary Gala. I wrote about that present here –– I prize it deeply, as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have the chance to write at all.

This year I should have been prepared for a similarly affecting gift… but I wasn’t. When I was handed another photo book, I scratched my head and wondered what it could be filled with.

HMCS Sackville, of course.

Last May, I had the incredible privilege of being a guest as that fine ship marked the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic. Anyone following these author notes will know how important a trip that was for me –– perhaps the most valued of the many voyages I’ve been lucky enough to take on behalf of this company.

Canada-class corvette, DCNS Sackville. Image by Wesley Prewer.
Canada-class corvette, DCNS Sackville. Image by Wesley Prewer.

All those author notes, and their accompanying photos, were compiled into a new book by the Iceberg team. I suppose someone cynical might dismiss this as a mere collection of content already available digitally… but as I’ve said before, for me there’s something undeniably special about print.

And it’s extra-special when it’s Sackville. I have no right to feel kinship with that corvette; she is older and wiser than me, has fought a war, and now stands to commemorate those like my grandfather who served on the Atlantic. But I adore her, and was so fortunate that she (and the very fine members of her Memorial Trust, which I have since joined), were not insulted by my invoking her name for a Belt Squadron counterpart.

AN-Alex-Stephanie-HWIndeed, I suppose it’s not quite a secret that in 1942, our friends Alex and Stephanie might encounter a plucky little Canadian ship which seems to dress to match Lady Smith. Having been a guest of Sackville, I simply could not leave her out of a series that is set in (an admittedly alternate version of) the 1940s. Hopefully she won’t mind traipsing about with a couple of youngsters when we get to Outports in July 2014.

The Iceberg team knows the depth of my loyalty to Sackville, so they understood what this simple book would mean to me. I look forward to seeing this lady in Halifax again soon… but in the meantime, on my desk will be a warm reminder of that great adventure of 2013, and all the reasons why I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of Iceberg Publishing. The point from last year hasn’t changed: it is a real privilege to have the opportunity to tell stories, and all of us who decide to partake should be grateful for the chance, no matter how hard –– sometimes frustrating –– it might seem.

Because when you put in your time and work diligently, you occasionally get the chance to do something incredible. I got to have Swiss Chalet in the mess of a Belt Squadron Barber Pole Squadron corvette, and meet the best kind of people. If you have a story to tell, and you dedicate the necessary hours, who knows where it might take you.

Merry Christmas, everyone –– and many thanks indeed to those who know me so well, and gave me such a gift.