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.

Kenneth Tam: And We’re Back
Kenneth Tam: And We’re Back
It's been more than a year since we ended the Champions of 1942 on a rather unapologetic cliffhanger, and the only penance I can offer for that slight is that there'll be no waiting between installments of the Champions of 1943. Today, all five novellas have launched across all major ebook services. Getting here has been quite a ride. The decision to release all five books at once was made partly out of pragmatism (we moved Iceberg 3,500 km across Canada since Progeny, so maintaining the old release schedule would have been impossible), partly due to data analysis (a surprising number of readers wait until the end of each year, then grab everything for a binge-read), and most importantly due to the fact that this year's stories are very tightly-knit. Seriously, if we made you wait two months between Shades and Hades, you wouldn't like us. You think it was bad waiting to find out if Glenn was under that dumpster… So what lies ahead for Alex, Stephanie and Strong as we get into 1943? Will they be together? Will they be ambulatory? Whose side will they be on? You don't have to wait to find out, though I will editorialize just a little. Spoilers for 1941 and 1942 ahead -- govern yourself accordingly! The end of 1942 came with the discovery that the Nazis were -- somehow, almost inexplicably -- pulling the strings that had led the world to war, while developing technology that they couldn't possibly be smart enough to create. And then, of course, Emily and her cabal appeared -- including Lord Duncan, Sergeant Major Eric Turner, and a mysterious man in tan -- just in time to collect Alex during her equally-inexplicable midnight food run with Stephanie. Readers who picked up Harm's Way will know something about Eric Turner's backstory with Emily -- the special bonus chapter, exclusive to that print omnibus, tells of his involvement. But as we start 1943, there are many, many questions to be answered… and when answers come, it might be fair to wonder whether they add up. One thing is for certain: Emily and her designs will finally come to light in 1943 -- and the ideas that have founded the entire system of 'Champions' within the British Empire and the United States will be challenged. In future author notes, I'll dive into some of the emerging issues; for now, I invite Champions readers to enter a new year of intrigue, action, and danger with Shangri-La, Shades, Hades, Savages, and Scars. Print readers, take note: Scar Tissue, the 1943 omnibus, will follow early next year. Stay tuned to this site for dates and information.    


Kenneth Tam: The Corrs
Kenneth Tam: The Corrs
There’s plenty to look forward to at the end of this month. On November 24th, all five Champions novellas for the of 1943 will be released at once, so readers waiting after last year’s cliffhanger in Progeny will finally be able to stop sending me angry messages. I’ll write more about what to expect in future notes, but for now I really must focus on a return that I’ve been waiting for since grad school. On November 27th, the Corrs are releasing White Light –– their first new album since 2005. At last, our long decade of darkness is over. I’ve written notes about music before –– I’ve always found it’s an essential part of writing. Whether from recently-discovered bands like Scotland’s Dead Man Fall, or instrumental innovators like Bond, or Canadian indies (that need to do more) like HUDDLE, excellent tunes can turn a bad drafting session good, and a good drafting session great. As such, finding new music is constant pursuit, and it’s not always easy. Which is why it really, really helps when your FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME comes back on the scene with new music. I use the ALL CAPS advisedly: I’ve been a Corrs fan since 1999, when I happened across one of their award show performances on television. I was 15 at the time, but I didn’t really have my band. The Irish Rovers had been the soundtrack of my earliest years, but I’d left them behind. My parents had good taste, so thanks to them I listened to the greats like Lionel Richie and Celine Dion, as well as lesser-known giants like Chris DeBurgh and Dionne Warwick… but aside from discovering for myself that Frank Sinatra could sing, everything was a hand-me-down. Then, the Corrs. I distinctly remember channel surfing past MuchMusic with the television muted, and stopping because there was some band on screen. Three women, one man, and my thought was: Oh, these must be the latest pop stars who can’t sing. Like all good teenagers, I was a smug elitist about music, so I unmuted to confirm my suspicions. That afternoon, I went out and bought Talk on Corners (the special edition) on CD. After that, I caught up with, Forgiven Not Forgotten, and later it was Unplugged, In Blue, Borrowed Heaven, and Home. Plus all the DVDs of their concerts. When the iTunes music store became a thing, I found some additional tracks that weren’t on the CDs released in Canada. When YouTube became a thing, I found recordings of their live gigs around the world. The Corrs became — and still are — my band. There are many reasons for this. Most importantly, they sound great. Growing up immersed in Irish culture in Newfoundland, and listening to the ever-wonderful Irish Rovers, my ears were perfectly calibrated for their Irish-pop sound. The frequent inclusion of Sharon Corr’s violin, Caroline Corr’s bodhrán (the Irish drum), and Andrea Corr’s tin whistle suited me perfectly. When they went ‘full Irish’, it was a real joy: Their songs were also constructed in a way that's very consistent with my worldview; the happiest ones would often hint at undertones of sadness, while the saddest ones usually projected a ray of hope. Nothing too sugary, nothing too bleak. I attribute this to them being Irish — a culture (like Newfoundland’s) that is steeped in the knowledge that there’s always both a cloud, and a silver lining. To this day, if I’m asked to choose an all-around 'best song', ‘Radio’ wins on the strength of elegant construction, pure sound, and brilliant emotional duality: Beyond the music, there was plenty to connect with. They’re a family band — three sisters along with brother Jim — who attribute much of their passion to a strong relationship with their parents. Since I’ve been running Iceberg with my parents for more than a decade now, it’s probably no surprise that I feel a special affinity for families who are able to stick together, particularly while being creative. It also must be said: I was fifteen, and Andrea, Caroline, and Sharon were all worthy of a teenage crush. And let’s not be coy, they still totally are –– perhaps now more than ever. So when the Corrs went on hiatus in 2006, it was a loss deeply felt. I’ve been able to broaden my musical tastes in the years since — find some excellent bands, in a huge array of genres — but when the iPhone became a thing, and I was able to carry music around with me everywhere, every Corrs album automatically had to be included. And now, at last, there will be more albums. I might need a bigger phone. Now, I realize that my adoration of the Corrs might not be universal (though it should be mentioned that they were the first band after The Beatles to simultaneously hold the number 1 and 2 spots on the UK charts), but given the quality of their writing and playing, I really think you should give White Light a listen on November 27th. Certainly, the lead single — ‘Bring on the Night’ — is as brilliant as ever: Welcome back, Corrs. Now: never, ever, go again. Alright, how about some disjointed stories: When we moved from Alberta to Ontario in 1999, Talk on Corners was in my Discman while I sat in the back of our car for the five-day drive. While on the road, I drafted the first chapters of The Human Equation, meaning the Corrs were the soundtrack for the first book of mine that ever saw print. In 2005, when event and venue dates got mixed up (leading to the creation of ‘Your 25 Questions’), I found myself panicking a little about having to do a book event in front of hundreds of people, with no preparation. On the drive between venues, ‘Baby Be Brave’ helped me focus — because what’s the point of it all, if you’re not terrified to fail? Then there was 2006, when everything was bleak. The Corrs did not pen ‘Lagan Love’, but their version of it was always able to reduce me to tears — which was desperately necessary when dealing with death. And I’m probably the only guy anywhere who has a strong contender for ‘song to be used for first wedding dance’. Yes, in fact, this is why I’m single.
Harm’s Way
The Count
A Daughter’s Gift – 10th Anniversary Edition
2235: The World Is Broken

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