Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fair Wind to Bahia by Tom Thorpe - Interview : Featured Author


Thomas Thorpe was the Project Manager of NASA’s highly successful Mars Global Surveyor Mission – a spacecraft that orbited Mars for nine years, returning two hundred thousand images of the planet and relaying pictures from the Mars Rovers. Mr. Thorpe has published six historical mystery thrillers of the Darmon Mystery series about a couple from Kent that solves international crimes during the 1830’s. These novels include: Message of the Pendant, The Forth Contention, Patriote Peril, Fair Wind to Bahia, Desperate Crossing and Without Redemption.

The Darmon Mysteries by Thomas Thorpe:

Book 1  Message of the Pendant
Book 2  The Forth Contention
Book 3 The Patriote Proposition
Book 4  Fair Wind to Bahia
Book 5  Desperate Crossing
Book 6  Without Redemption

Darmon Mysteries Books 6,5 and 4 (left to right)

Enter for a chance to win Signed, Print copies of books 4 -6 in the series. (US Shipping only) International readers may also enter, but if chosen the prize will be digital copies in PDF format of the books. To enter fill out the short entry form shown below. For a bonus entry make a comment on this post.  This giveaway ends November 16th 11:59PM CDT. The winner will be randomly selected using


I write historical mystery thrillers set around the world in the first half of the nineteenth century, but I have a background in space exploration.

I grew up in North Hollywood reading science fiction. As an amateur astronomer, I built telescopes and spent many a cold night in Fraser Park taking pictures of nebulae, galaxies and comets. During summers while attending UCLA, I worked at NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center with the original seven astronauts, Lowell Observatory and JPL. Upon graduation, I started employment at Eastman Kodak (Lunar Orbiter) before returning to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena the day following man set foot on the moon. At JPL, I spent 38 years participating in the defining moments of Mars exploration by Mariner, Viking and Surveyor spacecraft. Ultimately, I managed the Mars Global Surveyor Mission through most of its ten-year operational life. I have published numerous science articles on Mars photometry and also taught astronomy in Glendale College’s extended day program for nearly forty years.

With a career in space exploration, you might wonder why I chose to write books of historical fiction rather than science fiction. It might simply be that many years in one field leads a person to other avenues of interest. A catalyst for my stories can be found in the novels by Jane Austen. Her vivid portrayals make it easy to imagine similar characters involved in more adventuresome activities such as murder mysteries of the period. The research required to create accurate settings is not unlike the practice in science, and typically, a year’s research is necessary to put mystery/thrillers into authentic historical periods for each country. And then, there are some similarities with space exploration. The difficulties facing characters surviving in a foreign country during the early 1800’s is not unlike landing on an alien planet.

Having chosen to write historical fiction, a big question was how to transition from writing objective science papers to writing prose in a genre of literature, how to build suspense, make characters come alive and develop a story. A suitable writing style requires considerable reading, advice in novel writing and practice, practice, practice, some of which included fan-fiction writing on the internet. Early papers can still be found in the archives of the Republic of Pemberly homepage.

Why this time period? Besides the Austen books, the era is interesting and turbulent. Nations struggled with self-government, having emerged from colonialism or repressive monarchies. Word of the French and American revolutions spread worldwide. Tensions flared between traditional royalists and young radicals who promoted new ideas of democracy to free themselves from repressive social classes. As a result, conspiracies abounded and murders were common.

Into the mix, are thrust the Darmons, who solve mysteries occurring worldwide in between 1820-1845. William and Elizabeth, her sister Emily and brother-in-law Charles and youngest sister, Victoria. They’re world traveling aristocrats whose money provides access, but encounters with other cultures make them “fish out of water.” The six novels of the Darmon Series are set in America, England, Egypt, Quebec, Brazil, Russia and India.

Creating manuscripts is of course only the beginning. Finding a publisher for a select audience may take as much time for a new writer as his novel. Research is the key to publishing any historical book and today's Internet provides a wealth of sources. Publication of my first book came from shopping it around along with the ten thousand other writers seeking publication in this country every day. The now defunct PortTown Publishing Company originally published the first four novels of the Darmon series. However, they went out of business in 2006. Consequently, Black Rose Writing has begun releasing the new series in reverse order, starting with the previously unpublished Book 6: Without Redemption (2009) set in India and Book 5: Desperate Crossing (2010) set in Russia of the 1840’s. Book 4: Fair Wind to Bahia came out on April 7th of this year.

After publication is secured, marketing begins. Prior to a book’s release, advance work includes setting up reviews, writing press releases, scheduling book signings, and seeking ways to create publicity. Agents and publicists can help, but chances are one has to work their way up the sales ladder to get noticed by major catalogs. Once a paperback is published, an author better be prepared to meet and greet over the following year.

In conclusion, let me say that historical events are often ignored when presented in textbooks. People sometimes think that our ancestors were primitive and uneducated because they lacked today's technology. Unless one experiences the reality of past circumstances thru novels, their true relevance may be missed. This is the role of historical fiction. I hope the Darmon series enlightens readers to challenges of the time and gives a better appreciation of the choices made by our forbearers during their lives. 

            Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery                  
            Price: $16.95
            Published: Black Rose Writing
            Release Date: April 2011
            Inventory Status: Ingram distributor
            ISBN 978-1-61296-022-7
            Format: Paperback, 227 pages

Shipwrecked on a Brazilian beach in the year 1834, two couples stumble onto a plantation where they find a knife in the owner’s back.

Harrowing encounters with Indians, escaped slaves and ruthless landlords conspiring to assassinate eight-year old future leader, Dom Pedro II, lead to a dangerous transfusion to save the cholera-stricken young prince.

One of the castaways holds the cure in a tiny jar of red. He could save his own life, revive the prince or rescue his wife from the conspirators in exchange for the vessel, but there’s only enough blood for one.
Historically accurate events provide non-stop suspense.

    Available at Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Amazon, Ingram,



Darlene said...

I love this time period, and I love mysteries! For me, that's a great combo!

Thanks for the giveaway.

darlenesbooknook at gmail dot com
GFC Darlene

franchie15 said...

Hi Miss Laurie! This is such an interesting read. You get to hear a person's story based on his own personal experiences in that field. Such a nice story! :)

Thanks for this giveaway! :>

GFC Follower: franchie15