Principia 3: “The Terror of Withersmouth” is published!


The third full-length story in the Principia serial, The Terror of Withersmouth, is now available on Amazon!

A snippet from the story was previously posted here. The full tale is 20,000 words, the longest so far — the stories keep getting longer, think of it as value for your money!

Lovecraft fans will recognize this as an homage to the classic novella The Shadow Over Innsmouth (1936).

Let me know what you think via email or in the comments!

Coming soon (probably February): Principia 4: A Plague Upon Cardiganshire

12 Surprising Facts About SIN (Sir Isaac Newton)

Newton on the One Pound Note.

I’ve done some research and reading about Isaac Newton, as he’s a major character in Principia. I tend to think of my character as “90% Newton,” because while he’s mostly the Historical Newton (at least until December 1684, when he meets Jonathan Lennon), I have taken some liberties. I’m also taking a few of the real Newton’s better known characteristics, and exaggerating or developing them.

But I have yet to delve into the giant biography of Newton, Richard S. Westfall’s Never at Rest, which has been haunting my desk for six months. But I shall, I promise.

Here are 12 surprising facts about Isaac Newton. I’ve taken care to find sources for some of these, as many of the “facts” that float around the Internet, especially on historical matters, tend to be decidedly non-factual. (Here are a few hints: the Nazis were not socialists, Jews did not build the pyramids, and the vikings did not wear horned helmets.)

  1. Isaac Newton was born three months prematurely on Christmas Day, 1642, Julian calendar. (I was born two months prematurely on Christmas Day, Gregorian calendar. This is a meaningless coincidence.)
  2. Newton never married, and it is likely that he died a virgin (although, see fact 12).
  3. Newton attended Trinity College, Cambridge, where he would later teach — but he went there to study law, not mathematics or Natural Philosophy.
  4. While a student at Trinity, Newton supported himself by working as a subsizar, a student who acted as a servant to another student of higher station.
  5. When doing his groundbreaking research on optics, Newton found the ground glass lenses available to him insufficient. But he was already in possession of a far superior lens — the one in his eye. He manipulated his eyeball with a bodkin, a blunt needle, ignoring the discomfort to perform his observations.
  6. Although Newton’s scientific and mathematical worked changed the course of human history, he spent the vast majority of his academic years at Cambridge pursuing theological studies and the pseudoscience of alchemy.
  7. While Newton is venerated by rationalists and secularists for his contributions to science and human knowledge, the man himself was deeply and profoundly religious.
  8. However, while nominally affiliated with the Church of England, Newton secretly held theological beliefs that were widely considered blasphemous at the time. It appears that, in particular, he did not believe in the Holy Trinity, and thought that worshiping Christ as God was idolatry.
  9.  Newton was a Member of Parliament, representing Cambridge University in the Convention Parliament (1689–90) after the Glorious Revolution, and again in 1701–2.
  10. Newton was appointed Master of the Royal Mint, and pursued strenuous efforts to eliminate counterfeiting, including having a number of people executed.
  11. Newton was knighted in 1705 not for his scientific endeavors, or even for his work with the Royal Mint, but most likely as a reward for his political support.
  12. Newton shared rooms at Trinity with another man, John Wickens, for 20 years, from 1663 to 1683. Neither man pursued any kind of public romantic relationship during this period. Such a living relationship, if platonic, would have been quite common at the time. It has been suggested by some modern observers that this friendship may have hidden something more; but there is no evidence one way or the other.

My attitude with Principia is that if I (unintentionally) make a historical mistake, I definitely want to hear about it. The same with this blog post! And if you know any other interesting facts about Newton, post them below!

A snippet from Principia 3: “The Terror of Withersmouth”

17th Century map of Wales.

I am working on the first draft of the third full story in the Principia series, “The Terror of Withersmouth.” Here’s a snippet:

There were a fair number of locals in the common room, all young men who appeared to be friends of the inn-keeper, himself a Welshman in his 20s. Lennon and Delapore were the only foreigners until supper was being served, when a newcomer arrived.

He was a tall English gentleman, almost Lennon’s height, and about his age too, in his mid 30s. He was clean-shaven, with features that Lennon would call “chiseled,” and blue eyes that Lennon would call “penetrating.” His head was covered with a brown periwig, one in the shorter, more reserved style of an English country gentleman.

He wore a red body-coat, reminiscent of Lennon’s crimson justaucorps, but of a far more refined and simple design, along with a white cravat and knee-breeches. His shoes bore buckles in the current London style. He was a man of wealth, but a man of the country, one who was perfectly aware of the London fashions, but only adhered to those that matched his taste.

The newcomer strode over to the inn-keep, and made arrangements for himself and his man. He disappeared for a few minutes to his upstairs room, and was followed soon after by a servant bearing a trunk. But within a quarter-hour, the newcomer was back in the common room, eager to make the acquaintance of what he took to be the only other two Englishmen in residence.

“James Gordon, Lord Ruthven,” he introduced himself with a bow.

On Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth, mistress to Charles II (age 36 in 1685)…

The Duchess of Portsmouth by Sir Peter Lely, circa 1671

From “Louise de Kéroualle, Charles II’s French mistress: a discussion with Susan Holloway Scott” on Catherine Delors’ Versailles and More blog:

In 17th century royal courts, the role of the king’s mistress was a prestigious one. These women had the king’s ear (among other things!) and with that confidence came a great deal of power. They often acted as the king’s unofficial hostess, receiving important politicians and international diplomats in their quarters so that the king might meet them on a more informal basis. They often became involved in political negotiations, and it was expected that they accept bribes of money and gifts for the use of their influence. They were rewarded with titles, lands, and wealth for their services, and their children by the king were ennobled. Away from the Court, ordinary Englishmen hated them as a drain on the king’s finances and clergymen denounced them as strumpets, but in London they were celebrities, and people crowded after their carriages for a glimpse of their famous beauty.

While being a royal mistress wasn’t a semi-official post at the English Court as it was in France, where Louis maintained maitresses en titre, these women still were important in a way that few others of their time were. Dozens of women passed through Charles’s bed, but the overwhelming majority of them are now faceless and forgotten. The royal mistresses were different. Seventeenth century women couldn’t serve in Parliament, the military or the church, or the diplomatic corps, or attend university. The only path to power for an ambitious woman of the time was through a man, whether as a wife or as a mistress.”

The social media sites are launched!

Evil Isaac Newton and the Fire of London.. You don't know he didn't start it.

Okay, so my social media strategy is a little… complex.

There is a Facebook page for Principia, associated with my personal Facebook. That’s simple enough.

Then I created an Isaac Newton-themed Twitter feed and Google + page. These will have Newton quotes, Newton news, and of course, Principia posts. The Twitter and G+ buttons on this site go to those.

And then… I created Evil Isaac Newton, on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. He’s a bit NSFW, and I hope he generates some interest.

The Newton of Principia is not Evil Isaac Newton. But then, he’s not precisely the Newton of history, either. We know that many of Newtons papers were destroyed after his death, by supporters who wished to protect his reputation. What was in those papers? I have some ideas.

The first three stories are published!

Amazon Kindle Store.

Well, I’ve figured out the Amazon Kindle Store back end for the most part; my Author Page is created. I’ve finished editing and re-editing the first three stories. I’ve created the covers.

And as of today, all three stories are available to buy on Amazon. Hooray!

For right now, Amazon is the only site I’m using; and Kindle is the only format. But that will change.

More details on the Purchase page!