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Fiction in Progress

I have a series of three action-adventure, family-saga, historical novels in the works. They are set in Amsterdam during the latter 1500s to mid-1600s, a period of tumult and extraordinary achievements. Each will be a stand alone novel, but will be enjoyed more when read in sequence. I expect the series to be evergreen: timeless stories that will attract readers well into the future, especially armchair travelers and visitors to Amsterdam, who want to learn some history through an engaging fictional story. I am now seeking a literary agent for this work.



"Amsterdam Ascendant: A novel of rebellion, faith, and daring enterprise that launch a Golden Age" (tentative title)


The manuscript for this first installment of the trilogy is complete. Five excerpts from the manuscript may be read by clicking on the topics in the sidebar to the left. The story commences in 1572 when the Netherlands is in the fourth year of a revolt against its ruler Spain and Amsterdam is known as Murderdam. It ends in 1597, when Amsterdam is a multicultural, economic powerhouse that is poised for a glorious Golden Age. The storyline is as follows.


Merchant sea captain Maarten van der Voort is an outspoken Calvinist in Catholic-dominated Amsterdam when the Netherlands' powerful ruler Spain sends in an army and Inquisition to purge Protestants from its realm. Forced to flee the city, which will soon become known as Murderdam, he joins a rebel fleet and for ten years fights Spanish ships in one gruesome sea battle after another. At home, his family of Calvinists and Catholics face starvation and a determined Inquisition. From the ramparts, they witness a massive Spanish army laying siege to tiny Haarlem and watch Dutch and Spanish ships clash on nearby waterways. When an unlikely victory on the Zuider Zee frees Amsterdam from Spain's yoke, war-weary Maarten can finally go home.


There, Maarten is confronted with the Inquisition's grisly toll and wants revenge, yet must oppose fellow Calvinists who threaten his Catholic Beguine Aunt Margaretha. There is nagging debt to repay, a trading business to restart, an old nemesis to contend with, and pressure to accept a city council appointment to help calm the fractured community. In fits and starts, normal life resumes, with wife Betje continuing to be the glue that binds the family and Aunt Margaretha its moral compass. Erudite goddaughter Catrijn must choose between a sophisticated refugee from the war-torn south and her lifelong love. Spirited son Nicholaas pushes the bounds of social norms, and feisty Griet finds him irresistible. Adventurous son Dirck endures perils at sea in pursuit of daring new trade routes. All the while, Amsterdam lurches toward its 1600s Golden Age.


"Amsterdam's World: A novel of epic voyages, lost love, fortunes, and misfortune in the Golden Age" (tentative title)


This second novel of the series covers 1601-1631 and is presently in detailed outline form with the following plot:


The Van der Voorts anticipate a glorious future with the advent of the 1600s. Instead, the century opens with natural disasters and shriveling trade markets that threaten their lives and livelihood. Catrijn and Aunt Margaretha take risks to aid those suffering. Maarten promotes the creation of banks and insurance to help businesses, and Dirck gets involved in creating the innovative Dutch East India Company. Amsterdam is on a course to become a financial hub, and some family members are sucked into the speculative fervor it unleashes.


Slowly, religious intolerance again festers. When it explodes in violence, Maarten suffers repercussions and struggles to shield his grandchildren. Still, the family's wealth continues to grow with sea trading at its core. Dirck is drawn to exotic ports, but the journey does not turn out as expected. His nephew chooses a seafaring life and sets his sights on North America, while his mother Griet indulges in Amsterdam's blossoming art scene. Some of the younger generation see their futures in investing, law, and statecraft rather than in trading.


Final novel of the trilogy (no tentative title yet)


The conclusion of the trilogy, which carries the Van der Voort saga through to the mid-1600s, is in the conceptual stage. It will see Griet become a collector of art and a family member help negotiate the Netherlands peace treaty with Spain in 1648. A seafaring family member and his plucky wife will settle in New Amsterdam (New York City) where they will explore the virgin forests in pursuit of trade opportunities and encounter Indians, both friendly and hostile.