On Writing Explosives: How to Blow Up a Boat in 1889

on track for murder stephen childsToday’s guest blog post comes from Stephen Childs, author of the forthcoming On Track for Murder. It hits shelves on Sept. 1, 2015, and from the description it sounds pretty cool.

With her father stabbed to death, her brother caught with the bloody murder weapon, and her stepmother suspiciously missing, 18-year-old Abigail Sergeant is forced into a dangerous cross country adventure to uncover the truth and bring the real killer to justice.

What makes this crime novel stand out is the late 1800s setting. I invited Childs to contribute a post about selecting weapons for that period.

I think you’ll enjoy how he came to, as the title says, blow up a boat in 1889.


How to Blow Up a Boat in 1889

Tips for Writing Explosives

Hint: Steam needs somewhere to go. (Shutterstock photo)

  1. Plan your timing so that the criminals will be on board at the right moment.
  2. Decide how much time you need to escape.
  3. Find some stiff wire.
  4. Use wire to securely hold closed the safety valve.
  5. Make sure the boiler is stoked to excess.
  6. Wait for the explosion.

Stephen Childs, author of On the Track to Murder, coming Sept. 1, 2015. (Author photo)

This was the solution to a problem I had created, in allowing my lead character to get abducted.

Abigail Sergeant is an 18 year old who has been endowed with a knowledge of machinery and scientific principles from her father, an engineer from northern England. It is this knowledge that gets her out of several sticky predicaments.

While writing, I found myself with a problem. Abigail had been kidnapped and held captive aboard a steam boat about to head out to sea.

I toyed with the idea of allowing her to find a stolen Webley police revolver and overpower her captors. After much consideration, it seemed more in keeping for her to use her skills to sabotage the boat. This task she performed admirably.

In choosing to write with a young female lead, I wanted to create a character with the greatest opportunity to grow beyond expectations. In giving her the knowledge and tenacity to undertake such feats, it enabled me to offer the reader thrills and suspense while allowing the character to grow and mature.

Following on from her escape, Abigail is plunged into yet more taxing situations. Does she succeed in finding justice?


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