The Count
The Count

The meeting was not going well. “I appreciate you taking the time, Sergeant Barnes,” the businessman, Travers, said kindly as he leaned forward in his chair and linked his hands on the table before him. It was the sort of earnest gesture that was undoubtedly meant to seem warm. “We have reviewed your plan most carefully, and because we will adopt some of the recommendations you’ve suggested, I will insist that we pay you a fee for your help.” As much as he wouldn’t admit it, those words actually took some of the sting out of what Edwin Barnes knew was coming next. “But for the mission itself, we have decided to go with a different provider of security.” There it was. As he heard the familiar words, the ex-Sergeant – who still wore his khaki, perhaps in defiance of some … Continue reading

The Champions of 1940
Iceberg Reaches South Africa
Iceberg Reaches South Africa

Khaki-clad soldiers spent Saturday, July 26 advancing up a dry, grassy hill called Talana, in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Some 115 years ago, this hill had been the site of the first battle of the Second Boer War; this time, the soldiers were members of the Dundee Diehard historical re-enactment team, and their foes were neither Boers or British, but savages of the new world. Their mission: to provide images for a new project from award-winning Canadian publisher, Iceberg Publishing.

“We can now say we’ve conducted an inter-continental photo shoot,” says Iceberg Senior Partner and Editor-In-Chief, Jacqui Tam, “and we’re absolutely delighted with the outcome.”

This fall, a new entry will join Kenneth Tam’s His Majesty’s New World universe, which is currently progressing with the Champions series. Set in 1896, the project will fill in some of the universe’s backstory, but its plot presented certain logistical problems when it came to covers.

“With His Majesty’s New World and Champions, we’ve built a tradition of strong, historically-authentic, photographic covers,” explains author and Iceberg Partner Kenneth Tam. “We wanted the same for this new project, but the right sort of re-enactors simply don’t exist in Canada. Our military history doesn’t include many ‘khaki soldiers’, so groups like the Canadian Military Heritage Society usually start with the War of 1812, then jump to the First World War. We needed someone in between.”

Diehards-Webstory-01Enter the Dundee Diehards. Based in Dundee, South Africa –– at the foot of Talana Hill –– the group was formed in 1991 when the Duke of Kent opened the Talana Museum, to help preserve their country’s military history. Throughout the ‘new Imperialism’, modern-day South Africa was the site of numerous British colonial wars, including the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, and the Boer Wars of 1880-81 and 1899-1902. The Diehards routinely re-enact engagements from these conflicts, while also appearing at historical events, participating in commemorative ceremonies, and taking part in media projects. Their expertise was perfect for Iceberg’s project.

“As soon as we found the Diehards, we knew we wanted to work with them,” Kenneth says. “The only problem was geography –– could we coordinate a photo shoot from the other side of the Atlantic, and the other side of the equator?”

Though a small Canadian company, Iceberg has a long history of punching above its weight; the decision was quickly taken to try. Contacting the Diehards, Kenneth outlined the project, its requirements, and Iceberg’s past experience working with the Canadian Military Heritage Society. The South African team quickly came on board –– and, most importantly, put their experience and expertise at Iceberg’s disposal.

Diehards-Webstory-02“We obviously have no infrastructure on the ground in KwaZulu-Natal,” Jacqui says. “The Diehards handled the location scouting, the equipment, the uniforms, the transportation, and the timelines. What might have taken us months to put together, they managed in a matter of weeks. We went from first conversations to camera in just six weeks. Full credit to them for making it possible.”

The Diehards also recommended South African photographer Pierre Janse van Vuuren for the project.

“We were very anxious to find the right person to go behind the lens,” Kenneth states. “We had a good team on the ground for the His Majesty’s New World shoot in 2007, and Olivia Witzke sets an extremely high standard with her work on Champions, so there was a lot of pressure. Pierre couldn’t have been a better choice.”

While the Diehards were cementing plans for the location and equipment, the Iceberg team was in regular contact with Pierre, discussing details from photo composition, to lighting, to poses, to style.

“Anything that could possibly come up, we tried to discuss in advance,” Kenneth continues. “When we’re present at a shoot, we can improvise to take advantage of things we see on the day. We needed to give Pierre an idea of what we’d be looking for, so he could keep an eye out on our behalf.”

The preparation worked. Through multiple setups across the day, Pierre and the Diehards captured images that fit perfectly with the style established in His Majesty’s New World –– and with what the project demanded. Armed with these images, Iceberg can now target a fall launch, though details about the project remain limited.

Diehards-Webstory-03“Readers of The Grasslands will probably recall the significance of the year 1896,” Kenneth deflects, “but that’s all we can say for now.”

Although the full details of the story remain under wraps, the photos are a point of pride for the Canadian company.

“We had to draw on all our experience to commission this shoot,” Jacqui Tam concludes. “If we hadn’t done the same sort of shoots numerous times before, in Canada, we couldn’t have been able to try to execute one half a world away.”

“We were also very lucky with the people on the ground. The web has made the world smaller, but finding people with the both the talent and dedication that we found in KwaZulu-Natal is rare. The Diehards and Pierre took onboard all the information we offered, then added their own expertise and passion,” Kenneth elaborates, then smiles. “The results speak for themselves –– Mike Strong would be impressed.”


More information about Iceberg’s newest project will be available on this website in the weeks ahead. Additional stories about this shoot, and other Iceberg projects, can be found here in the Author Notes of Kenneth Tam and Jacqui Tam.

Jacqui Tam: My Own Eyes
Jacqui Tam: My Own Eyes
I’ve been surrounded, this past week, by the energy, excitement and anxiety that inevitably accompany the start of a new school year. It’s probably not surprising, then, that when I decided to post a throwback Thursday photo on my Facebook page, I gravitated towards school pictures, ultimately choosing my first one ever from Kindergarten. White cotton blouse buttoned right up to the neck under a navy blue 100 percent wool uniform jumper. Wispy hair, slightly uneven bangs. Looking straight at the camera with chin held high and eyes so very bright. Everything was possible in the eyes of that smiling little girl. Everything and anywhere. I didn’t think much of it when I posted the picture –– it was just a fun and timely #TBT –– but when I was on my way to work the following morning, I found myself pondering questions I can honestly say I’d never consciously considered before. And the more I pondered, the more important the questions became. Until, strangely, I could almost physically feel their weight. What would the five-year-old girl in that picture think of the woman she had become 50 years later, I wondered. Would she admire her, look up to her, be proud of her? Would she consider her a role model? Would she be happy to be her? To live the life she had carved out? To watch her at work, at home, with family, friends, colleagues, strangers? Or would she be saddened, disappointed? Would her chin drop, her eyes sadden, and her smile fade? As I sat at a traffic light, right hand covered in a black leather driving glove that rested on the steering wheel of my Land Rover, I felt the intense power of my younger self’s perspective… She’d definitely approve of the Land Rover, I thought, because she loved her father so much and he loved his Land Rovers. And the leather gloves, because her stylish mother had long since taught her that a pair of quality leather gloves added exactly the right level of flair to almost any outfit. I can remember that little girl so well. She loved school. She loved the rows of desks and the chalkboard. She loved the textbooks and exercise books, the pencils and pens, the rulers and erasers. She loved making notes and studying them. She loved math problems. She loved numbers and words. There was much that terrified her –– doctors, dentists and hospitals, thunder and lightning, dogs and the radio reports that the world would end on a particular date and time –– and she had terrible nightmares about ghosts, aliens, witches, and pillars in the sky. She had night pains in her knees and sore throats. She had also already learned that some people are cruel, and seem to gain great joy by stealing other people’s happiness or hurting them. But she was absolutely certain and safe in her father’s and mother’s love. And she had yet to have even the slightest real glimpse of what it would be like to lose either of them. She didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up, but she knew she wanted to be something. And she wanted to be good… not cruel or mean like the person who gave her a small glass of water that turned out to be vinegar. I’ve written before of my deeply-rooted motivation to live my life so that my father would be proud to call me daughter –– that is one of the ways I try to honour him. And my husband reminds me almost everyday that I so often see myself through my mother’s eyes, and strive to be the daughter she would want me to be. But that #TBT post… that little girl… made me realize something that had never before consciously occurred to me. Looking at that photo, I realized for the first time that despite the heartache I know she will feel, the physical pain she will suffer, the losses she will endure, the cruelties she will experience and witness… more than anything I want her to experience and appreciate all the successes and joys before her… I want her to feel loves so intense they will stream down her cheeks as she walks up a long church aisle towards Peter and holds Kenneth in her arms and says goodbye to her treasured father, her role-model mother, and precious Atlas… I want her to laugh, and sing, and dance, and do things she never thought she could ever do, like learn to hit a golf ball and climb to the top of the Earth’s mantle. And most of all, I want her to know she can depend on me to be the person she would want me to be… to be proud of the person she has become and the life she has built. Peter has always told me that you can’t do for others unless you first do for yourself. I’ve always thought I understood that, but I didn’t really. Not until now. Not until I looked back into my own eyes. To the bright-eyed school photo of a little girl named Jackey Barron.
Jacqui Tam: The Place We Belong
Jacqui Tam: The Place We Belong
As I mentioned in my last post, the Iceberg partners were in Gros Morne, Newfoundland again this summer. It was our fifth trip to the area in five years. Truth is, we love that part of the world so much we’ve been accused of working for Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism. We don’t, of course, though we will take credit for helping some people decide to book a trip to the Rock. Iceberg Publishing started in the province of Ontario in 2002, and is now based 3,500 km west in Alberta, but the three partners are Newfoundlanders (even the one who was technically born in Trinidad) and we have a deep and abiding love for the province. The nonfiction story that launched our company –– Standing Tall: A Daughter’s Gift –– finds its beating heart in this province. It isn't the only one of our titles for which that’s true. However, we’ve come to realize that the majority of the people picking up Iceberg titles probably don’t know where Newfoundland is, let alone what it looks like. So for the thousands of readers from the United States, the UK, and Australia who are reading about Newfoundland and Newfoundlanders, we spent part of our summer vacation making an introductory video. This was possible thanks to a new DJI Phantom 3 drone that we’ve picked up for work on future projects… and more importantly, because Newfoundland itself cooperated with beautiful weather, and spectacular views. Watch it below (you can go full screen, at 1080p!), and if you want to take a trip to Newfoundland, check out newfoundlandandlabrador.com to start planning. Or, if you want to get a sense of Newfoundland without actually leaving your home, you can find it pretty easily in all of our books –– not just A Daughter’s Gift. After the video, there’s a quick guide explaining how the Rock figures into most of Iceberg’s titles. Newfoundland in Iceberg Fiction Champions The main characters in this alternate history series are based at a facility called Jimmystown, on the outskirts of Newfoundland’s capital city of St. John’s. The cast is multinational –– including a girl raised on the American frontier… of another planet –– and each novella takes the team abroad for action and adventure. However, they always come home to Jimmystown… and Newfoundland’s weather (blizzards, fog) has proved significant to their missions more than once. His Majesty’s New World In this alternate history series (which sets the stage for Champions), the Royal Newfoundland Regiment is deployed to another planet in 1919 –– so Newfoundland doesn’t appear at all. However, all Newfoundlanders carry a piece of the Rock with them in their hearts… and Regimental Sergeant Major Dunphy literally carries a bag of beach rocks around with him, wherever he goes. So as you follow the b’ys across the grasslands of the new world, a tiny bit of Newfoundland is joining the mission. Defense Command Set 200 years in the future, and spending most of its time in the midst of a war (or a love story?) that crosses the solar system, one might not think that this series could include Newfoundland. But of course it does. The seat of power for the Earth Empire government is in a city called Terra Nova, located on Capital Island. The main character and narrator, an Admiral called Barron, also hails from that place. He writes: “The fog was thick and the winds were up –– it was a lovely day on the Atlantic. Made me homesick, really. It also required a bit more focus as we cruised over the Cabot Strait –– the waterway separating the Capital Island from the mainland of North America.” Definitely Newfoundland… but I can’t provide more proof without major spoilers. Equations In the Equations series, humanity is driven from Earth by an intelligent bio-weapon sometime in the middle of this century. When humans return to the planet 700 years later, they find it has come under the protection of the Earthers –– a new race of humanoid wolves, cats and bears that were genetically-engineered into existence by the plague. These Earthers are better than humans in every conceivable way, and having learned from the wreckage of humanity’s past, they are wary of our return. Who leads these creatures? A wolf called Setter Caine, who happens to live in –– wait for it –– Newfoundland. So, are all of these Newfoundland connections… connected? I’ve asked Kenneth if there’s any significance (aside from ‘national’ pride) to the fact that one island seems to be at the heart of three otherwise-unconnected fictional universes. He never answers… so maybe he does work for Newfoundland Tourism… Either way, whether on the page or in person, we invite readers all around the world to spend time in our home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The place we belong is truly beautiful.
Harm’s Way
The Count
A Daughter’s Gift – 10th Anniversary Edition
2235: The World Is Broken

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