Monday, July 12, 2021

Virtual Book Tour + #Giveaway: The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter by Tom Durwood @RABTBookTours

 “The Navigators” series of historical adventures

Historical fiction, young adult fiction

 Date Published: October 27, 2020

Publisher: Empire Studies Press

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An Egyptian girl fights amid intrigue and corruption for the completion of the world’s greatest man-made waterway.

Recent events have placed the Suez Canal in the global spotlight. One of the world’s most vital waterways, the Canal was originally hailed as a link between civilizations, between Western science and Eastern mystery.  This adventure is set against the epic creation of the Canal.

Heroes coming of age... and changing history.


"Tom Durwood is the real thing."

-- Joe Weber, Honorable Enemies, Rules of Engagement


Interview with Tom Durwood

    For those interested in exploring the subject or theme of your book, where should they start?

    Yes, you should start with any of the news articles about the recent closure of the Suez Canal (!!) Earlier this year, the Ever Given, a container ship nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall, ran aground, got stuck sideways, and closed the Canal for six days, disrupting global supply chains.

    This incident is a reminder of how fragile the global network can be. The creation of these gigantic waterways is one of the great narratives of modern times. Worth understanding!!

    How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

    I love this question!! The short answer is that the Suez construction seemed like a rich and rewarding setting for a girl’s coming-of-age story.

    The long answer has to do with the idea of empire, my pursuit of which has dominated the last decade for me. See my online journal, Empire Studies Magazine, if you would like to track this progression.

    As it has come into focus, my mission is to create a collection of surprising adventures with teen heroes fighting the forces of corruption at key moments in the rise and fall of empire. So far, I have completed two such epics, one novella and nine illustrated stories, with more in the pipeline.

    What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

    A little, yes. The important goals were:

    a) to show a little of the powerful economic and global social forces at work beneath the sword-fighting and love triangles

    b) to communicate the historical exposition through the characters.

    Unlike much of my earlier, unpublished work, “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter” does not feature a storyline overly burdened with the baggage of my third-rate Barbara Tuchman prose. (Your readers will see that some made it in.)

    Zachary Karabell’s outstanding book, “Parting the Sands,” recounts a fascinating web of intrigue surrounding the Canal that I could not get into – I just could not stretch my characters that far and wide.

    Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

    Yes!! Please accept the artwork in “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter” as my reward for your close reading of the story. There is a lot of information packed into each of my chapters, and most of it loops back into the story down the line. The artwork is an offset or reward for the difficulty of the prose.

    Also, I have a number of free lesson plans and sample chapters on the web sites:

    What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

    Two phases really – the first was filling in the highly ambitious shell of an epic adventure centering around the Suez Canal build. I was very happy when the characters seemed to catch a spark, and to grow into the story.

    One of the reviewers noted this, to my great pleasure:

    The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter is made even more enjoyable by how Salima relates to and deals with the other characters in the book, especially her friend Emilie … Durwood does a fine job of capturing authentic moments—both funny and not—while tackling difficult and important subjects like slave labor.

    The second phase, also very gratifying, was commissioning the artwork. I went through scores of portfolios before arriving at these talented young artists, and then forwarding them reference material on the period. During those months, I could not wait to wake up every morning to see the art waiting for me. Niklas Frostgard and Serena Maylon in particular really surprised me with their interpretations. Because of the artists’ efforts, and because of the rich subject matter, I feel the book offers value to any reader.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your next books or what you have planned for the future?

    Yes, the next illustrated epic is coming online on the heels of TBD, actually, next month, on July 4. This is an even more ambitious trilogy about the American Revolution, “The Illustrated Colonials.” The middle section is a little hard to follow, but I think it all comes together in the end. Please check it out:

    After “The Colonials” comes a set of stories set in World War II. Then Teddy Roosevelt.

    We’ll see whether or not it is realistic to continue with the color art, since it places the book at a very high price point for my readers.

    How long have you been writing?

    Since my early 20’s. I pulled the car off the road for the decade of my 30’s, then returned.

    Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter”?

    All day (!!) The protagonist, Salima, is a working -class Egyptian teenager who manages her family’s barge business, ferrying cargo to and from the cotton plantations downriver from Cairo. She is recruited by Dutch maritime agents to help with the vast Canal effort – corruption is crippling the project.

    She and her new friend, Emilie (an upper-class French girl) join Mikal, a young Dutchman, in retrieving stolen tools and apparatus. Salima proves invaluable to the Canal effort. She demands (and gets) from the Caliph better working conditions for the fedayeen laborers. Chased by saboteurs, the teen trio flees to the Valley of Kings, where they encounter river bandits led by Khalil, a moody young rebel.

    A love triangle develops, with Emilie heartbroken to be left out. Friendships are further tested when European opponents of the Egyptian canal track them down …

    If you could spend the day with one of the characters from “The Illustrated Boatman’s Daughter,” who would it be? Please tell us why you chose this particular character, where you would go and what you would do.

    Yow!! Nice. Any of them, really, I feel like I know them well. I might start with Salima, since she is so much like my own daughter. We would tour the Nile, then walk the streets of Cairo.   


About the Author

TOM DURWOOD is editor of Empire Studies Magazine, an open-access journal posting over fifty scholarly features. He taught most recently at Valley Forge Military College, where he won five Teacher of the Year awards.

He is the author of Teddy’s Tantrum: John D. Weaver and the Exoneration of the 25th Infantry.  His book Kid Lit: An Introduction to Literary Theory has earned favorable early reviews.  “My favorite nonfiction book of the year,” writes The Literary Apothecary (Goodreads).

Foreword Author’s Bio 

Fatima Sharafeddine is a writer and translator for children and young adults, winner of several awards and honor lists, among which the Etisalat Award for the best YA book of the year 2017 for “Cappuccino”, (Al-Saqi publishers), and the Bologna Ragazzi New Horizons Award for her book “Tongue Twisters” (Kalimat publishers). Her YA novel “Mila’s Pear” was 3shortlisted for the Etisalat Award 2019, and she was nominated 5 times for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the last nomination being in 2020. She has written over 140 books.

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