Historic Naval Fiction is pleased to have obtained an Interview with Matthew Willis whose new novel, Daedalus and The Deep, was recently released.
What can you tell us about Daedalus and The Deep without spoiling the plot for readers?
It’s based on the historical sighting of a ‘sea serpent’ by officers from HMS Daedalus while sailing in the Atlantic in 1848. The novel is a fictionalised account of what might have happened next. It’s the story of a Midshipman with a secret, a Captain with an obsession and Lieutenant with ideals as they go up against a sea serpent with a mission.
The 1840s was a period of rapid change – steam was starting to challenge sail, the Navy was starting to become more professional and ‘modern’, and was struggling to adjust to being a peacetime force. The Navy’s officers – as with the landed classes in England – were starting to become a lot more interested in science, and doing their jobs scientifically. For me, the notion of a ship in the midst of that cauldron of upheaval stumbling across a hitherto-unclassified creature was a fascinating thing to explore. Not to mention a really good basis for an adventure story, pitting a fantastic creature against one of the last Napoleonic-era frigates. At its heart, this is a novel about modernity versus tradition, man versus nature, and growing up.