Transatlantic Crossing on QM2

  • Transatlantic crossing inspires novel set. Gary Nicholson so enjoyed his trip on board Queen Mary 2, he was inspired to write his first novel, The Transatlantic Lady Carisbrooke. New York
  • During a Transatlantic Crossing between Southampton and New York you’ll often see guests reading in the Library, the Commodore Club or out on the open decks. And they’re not just reading paperbacks any more, Kindles and iPads have become increasingly popular, they’re a great companion for any techno-savvy cruiser. One of our regular guests Gary Nicholson so enjoyed his trip on board Queen Mary 2, he was inspired to write his first novel, The Transatlantic Lady Carisbrooke. Much of the book is set on board and it is now available to buy an an ebook on Amazon. We caught up with Gary to find out a bit more about the book and where his inspiration came from.
  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

    I’m Gary Nicholson. I’m 52 and I was born in South London. In 1972, my parents moved to Winchester, and I have been here ever since, apart from 4 years at college in Canterbury, and 5 years’ working in Italy. I’ve spent most of my career in publishing, mainly in Sales and Distribution, but now I work for a training organisation, teaching European business people and politicians (including some quite famous ones) how to present and negotiate in English.
  • How many times have you sailed with Cunard?

    Karen and I went on our first Cunard voyage in 2007, crossing from New York to Southampton on QM2 after a few days in the Big Apple. We enjoyed it so much, that in 2008, we made the round trip, leaving from Southampton, spending 8 hectic hours in New York– it’s amazing how much you can do when you plan and book ahead – and returning to Southampton. In June 2012, we came back for a Westbound crossing, and returned to London via JFK. We’ve been on other cruises and crossings, but for all sorts of reasons, the QM2 remains our favourite.
  • When did you decide to write the book?

    On our return journey on board QM2 in July 2008, Karen and I found ourselves sipping cocktails and watching pilot whales in the Commodore Club, late one afternoon. We can’t remember how it happened, but we found ourselves talking about two imaginary characters – Lady Carisbrooke, an eccentric late middle-aged woman with a fondness for a drink or two, and her rather plain, enthusiastic and naïve paid companion, Clarice. When we got back to the UK, I wrote a couple of chapters just to amuse myself. I added a few more in the next year, but it was only in early 2010 that I realised a full-length novel could be the eventual outcome.
  • How long did it take?

    I wrote the first chapter of The Transatlantic Lady Carisbrooke in August 2008 and finished the first draft in June 2010. There then followed around 16 revised versions, with the now published title (May 2012) being the 17th. So almost four years in total, although I’d say that most of the first draft was written in only 3 months, between March and June 2010.
  • Where is it available to purchase?

    It can be purchased from Amazon. It’s only available as an eBook through Amazon’s Kindle programme. That doesn’t mean you need a Kindle to read it, however. You can download the Kindle reader (free) for PC, iPad, iPod etc and then read it on your device of choice. If it does well, I’ll produce a print version.
  • What is the book about?

    In a nutshell, I wanted to make people laugh, conjure up the unique Cunard atmosphere, and write a crime novel. It’s mainly set on board QM2 during a crossing from the UK to New York. Lady Carisbrooke and her household make the trip in order to attend a wedding. This has come about after Clarice accidentally falls from the 3rd storey of Lady Carisbrooke’s London residence onto a passing car, and while in hospital, makes friends with the bride-to-be (who happened to be in the car). Lady Carisbrooke simply wishes to avoid spending another tedious weekend with her detested oldest friend, Baroness Fremsley, whom she has recently shot twice – also accidentally. Then, darker forces emerge. It’s really an Ealing Comedy about revenge and cocktails.
  • Are any characters based on real people?

    Ooh, the tricky questions last, eh?! Let’s just say that if you were a crew member or passenger on board QM2 in July 2008, then you may recognise aspects of some of the characters (exaggerated for comic effect of course). One of the protagonists, Charlie Walsh, is an amalgam of all that’s bad about TV chefs, celebrity gardeners, interior designers and reality TV stars. And as for Lady Carisbrooke – well she changed a lot over the course of writing the book. She’s now a combination of Judi Dench as M in James Bond and Judge Judy.
  • Which locations of QM2 are featured in the book?

    Well, around 40 or so of the 58 chapters are set on board, so we get to see The Royal Court Theatre, The Chart Room, The Regatta Bar, The Queens Room and many more. Even the kennels and the medical centre are featured. Naturally, The Commodore Club has a prominent place. The only thing that is invented is a rather curious restaurant, which gave me a chance to imagine some rather radical dishes, none of which, I promise you, really feature on board the QM2.

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