Four entwined lives-Crosscurrents by Jane Jackson @JJacksonAuthor #booktour

The idea for 'Crosscurrents' came to me after I read about trials of a new boiler fitted to a packet ship that had been converted from sail to steam because the Admiralty wanted faster journey times.  

But the men constructing the boilers had little idea of the effects of high-pressure steam on the joints and rivets.  Because the ships couldn’t carry enough fresh water to top up the boilers, engineers had to use seawater.  Salt water is corrosive, hot salty water doubly so. Internal corrosion weakened the boiler barrel. Grooves could occur along horizontal seams - known as lap joints - below water level.

A basic fire-tube boiler steaming at 50lbs per square inch contained water at a temperature of roughly 150 °C (300 °F). If the boiler ruptured, most of the water would instantly flash into steam. Steam takes up 1,600 times more space than liquid water, so each cubic metre of heated boiler water would expand into 1,600 cubic metres of steam in a fraction of a second. The result? A devastating explosion. Metal plates from a ruptured boiler have been thrown a quarter of a mile.

In 1863, the boiler of the SS Ada Hancock, a small steamboat used to transfer passengers and cargo to and from large coastal steamships calling in San Pedro Harbour, the port of Los Angeles, California, exploded violently. Of the fifty-three passengers on board, twenty-six were killed and many more injured.

In April 1865 in the greatest maritime disaster in US history, the steamboat 'Sultana' was destroyed and sank not far from Memphis, Tennessee when one of the ship's four boilers exploded.  An estimated 1,700 passengers were killed.  
Parts of the firebox in contact with full steam pressure have to be kept covered with water to stop them overheating.  So if the water level falls – because the fireman hasn't kept it topped up or the gauge glass is faulty – the top of the fire box becomes uncovered it overheats, becomes weakened, and gives way.
After reading this my mind was buzzing. The conflict between those with vested interests in high-pressure steam and one engineer's determination to create a safe alternative gave me the background to my story.

But background is just that - background. It is the characters and their conflicts, fears and desires that make the story live, make it real.  Santo Innis, Bronnen Jewell, Richard Vaughan and Melanie Tregarron are irrevocably changed by the events that draw them together.

Santo Innis is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate.
Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work. But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter.  
Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse. But when Bronnen Jewell - worried about her mother's suffering at her father's hands - arrives to brew the harvest beer she's horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends.
As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear. 
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Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel. 
Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county's magnificent scenery and fascinating history.
She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.

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