Posts Tagged ‘Pacific Northwest’

In researching and writing our historical adventure Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story) – a labor of love spanning 13 years – we first came across the centuries-old diary entries of young English seaman John Jewitt in early 2002. And we immediately became enamored with this intriguing slice of North American history.

However, it took untold drafts and careful study of the region – including consultation with the tribal peoples of the Pacific Northwest – before we finally felt confident we had developed the original bare bones historical account into the epic adventure novel it deserved to be in literary format.

As with writing any novel based on or inspired by a true story, we had a million agonizing decisions to make along the way. Decisions like what aspects of the historical events needed to be added to, fictionalized or given more layers, and what could be kept exactly as occurred but expanded upon or dramatized.

Even after all these years of focusing on the history we still feel John Jewitt’s story is one of the great true wilderness survival tales of all time.

Thankfully, readers seem to resonate with this novel and it continues to attract stellar reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

If you enjoyed Into the Americas, you may enjoy our other adventure novels White Spirit   (another novel based on a true story), The Dogon InitiativeWorld Odyssey and Fiji: A Novel.

-Lance & James Morcan 


Book: Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story) by James & Lance Morcan

Book’s Amazon review rating = 4.4 out of 5 stars after 187 reviews.


★★★★★ “Extremely well researched, the main character’s ‘coming of age’ is told with detached and stark brutality.” -Award-winning author Lee Murray.


Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story)  is available via Amazon as a paperback or Kindle ebook:



Morcan Books & Films

One book reviewer described our historical adventure INTO THE AMERICAS (A novel based on a true story)  as being “like a motion picture in words.” Understandable given it’s set in the Pacific Northwest, which must surely be one of the most picturesque places on earth. 

Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island…where this true-life story is set.


Into the Americasis a tale of two vastly different cultures – indigenous North American and European civilization – colliding head on. It is also a Romeo and Juliet story set in the wilderness.

The storyline:

It’s 1802. Nineteen year-old English blacksmith John Jewitt is one of only two survivors after his crewmates clash with the fierce Mowachaht tribe in the Pacific Northwest.

John Jewitt…years later.

A life of slavery awaits John and his fellow survivor, a belligerent American sailmaker, in a village ruled by the iron fist of Maquina, the all-powerful chief…

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For some reason, the people of the Pacific Northwest considered rotten fish – salmon in particular – a delicacy, much preferring it to fresh fish. As a result, the odor of putrid fish filled the lodges at Nootka village, including the slaves’ quarters as it did on this occasion.

Toothie wandered over to the white slaves, holding two calabashes of food he’d prepared over the cooking fire. John Jewitt and Thompson accepted the offerings gratefully.

A quick inspection showed it consisted of fish grilled in seal oil. It looked appetizing enough, but the whites guessed the fish Toothie had used came from the small stockpile of putrid salmon the slaves kept in the lodge when supplies permitted.

So hungry were John and Thompson they crammed hand-fulls of the fish into their mouths as soon as it had cooled sufficiently.

It took all their self-control not to gag as they digested the putrid salmon, but they managed to keep it down. If nothing else, they found it was filling and would help them survive another day at least. They weren’t to know it was also very nutritious, and would sustain them until their next meal.

You have been reading an excerpt from INTO THE AMERICAS (A novel based on a true story) – available via Amazon:

Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story) by [Morcan, Lance, Morcan, James]

Nineteen year-old blacksmith John Jewitt is one of only two survivors after his crewmates clash with the fierce Mowachaht tribe in the Pacific Northwest. A life of slavery awaits John and his fellow survivor, a belligerent American sailmaker, in a village ruled by the iron fist of Maquinna, the all-powerful chief. Desperate to taste freedom again, they make several doomed escape attempts over mountains and sea. Only their value to the tribe and John’s relationship with Maquinna prevents their captors from killing them.



Into the Americas, the latest novel by New Zealand father-and-son writing team Lance & James Morcan, provides an insight into an intriguing, but surprisingly little known event in in North American history. It’s based on the true account of young English seaman John Jewitt’s enslavement by one of the native tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the early 1800’s. 

Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story)

Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story)

An excerpt from Into the Americas  follows. It describes 19-year-old John Jewitt’s arrival in Nootka Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, aboard the brig The Boston  in 1803:

A noise resembling the beating of drums signaled to the men of The Boston that their arrival at Friendly Cove, Nootka Sound, had been noticed even though rain and mist had reduced visibility to less than thirty yards. The mist hung over the sea and the surrounding hills like a white shroud, adding to the eeriness of the occasion.

In fact, the drumming noise came not from drums but from the beating of sticks and branches against the timber roofs and walls of the Mowachahts’ lodges.

John was standing at the starboard rail. Through the mist he caught an occasional glimpse of a forbidding, rocky shoreline. Forest-covered hills rose up from the sea, and low cloud clung to the treetops. Fir trees abounded – spruce and pine being especially prominent – along with groves of beech and cedar trees, and other varieties John couldn’t identify.

A totem pole rose even higher than the trees around it, its top hidden by mist. The mist cleared momentarily to reveal its top resembled the head of an eagle.

Soon, other crew members joined John. They included Dorthy, second mate William Ingraham, black sailor Jupiter Senegal, steward Abraham Waters, sailmaker Jonathan Thompson and his namesake Edward Thompson, the boatswain. All shared John’s excitement as more than five months had now passed since their last landfall.

As the brig negotiated the unchartered waters of the inlet, regular depth soundings were taken to ensure her safe passage.

Gradually, the rain eased and the mist cleared. For those who had never visited the Northwest Pacific region before, it was a sight to behold: the forest-covered hills rose higher and higher toward distant horizons; beyond them, the snow-capped peaks of unnamed mountains could be seen rising above the clouds; smoke from unseen cooking fires spiraled into the sky; seals dozed along the rocky shore, squawking seagulls hovered above a rotting sea lion carcass, and a bull elk grazed on lush grass between the rocks and the trees.

“Look!” William shouted.

John turned to see the second mate pointing behind the brig to where dozens of bald eagles were diving into the sea to snare fish. Most, it seemed, succeeded at their first attempt. Those who didn’t immediately launched another sortie. They were joined by more eagles and within minutes scores of the magnificent birds of prey were plunging into the sea.

Those witnessing the spectacle for the first time couldn’t believe their eyes. They marveled at the eagles’ speed of descent, how hard they hit the water and how successful they were at this spectacular food-gathering method.

John and the others returned their attention to the shoreline ahead as The Boston entered Friendly Cove. Nootka village came into view and the drumming sound that had heralded the brig’s arrival earlier intensified.

Mowachaht villagers could be seen drumming sticks against the exterior of their lodges. To John’s eyes, those employed in such a way appeared to be working themselves up into a frenzy.

On the sandy beach in front of the village, warriors were in the process of launching some of the twenty or so canoes resting there. John could see the Mowachahts were intent on approaching The Boston and he hoped they meant the brig’s crew no harm. The fact that all were armed and most carried muskets did nothing for his confidence.

Dorthy, who stood alongside John, noticed his assistant’s interest in the activity ashore. “Them the Mowachahts,” the armorer said. “Savages every one of ’em, so watch your scalp.”

John hoped Dorthy was joking. The expression on his face indicated he wasn’t. John turned his attention to the villagers’ European-style lodges. He counted twenty-three of the impressive dwellings. The lad pointed to the nearest lodge – a huge structure that looked like it could accommodate up to sixty or more people. “How did these people build those?” he asked.

“They didn’t,” Dorthy replied. “They were left behind by the Spaniards some years back.”


“Aye. Settlers and merchants. The Spanish had a monopoly on trade in these parts for many years.” Dorthy managed a rare smile. “Then it all changed and Britain reminded Spain, France and the rest of the world who really rules the waves.”

At the bow, the two sailors performing sounding duties conferred with each other under the watchful eye of Delouissa. One of them, Norwegian Peter Alstrom, shouted, “Twelve fathoms, Chief!”

Delouissa relayed the information to Salter who anxiously paced the quarter-deck. “Twelve fathoms, Captain!”

“Drop anchor!” Salter ordered.

“Aye, Captain.” Turning back to the two sailors, Delouissa said, “You heard the captain.”

“Yes, Chief,” Alstrom said. He and his companion then hurried off to drop anchor.

Delouissa turned to John and the others who were still observing their new surroundings. “Back to your stations, you layabouts,” he ordered. “Plenty o’ time for sightseeing later.”

The crewmen returned to their duties. As the rain was holding off, John opted to work on deck. He quickly set about firing up the forge. At the same time he kept an eye on the Mowachahts who were rapidly closing with the brig in their canoes.

Salter was keeping a close eye on the approaching Mowachahts, too. He ordered Delouissa to ensure that an armed reception party awaited the visitors.


Within minutes of the brig dropping anchor, she was surrounded by canoes whose occupants observed her in silence. The canoes, which ranged in size from four to twenty-man vessels, were dugouts fashioned from the giant red cedar trees found in these parts. Their occupants handled them with no small amount of skill.

On board The Boston, a dozen armed crewmen lined the near rail, their muskets primed and at the ready. Salter was taking no chances.

John couldn’t decide whether the Mowachahts were pleased to see the traders or whether they meant them harm. The natives’ expressions seemed benign to his eyes, though he sensed an underlying resentment.

One canoe – bigger than the others – drew up alongside The Boston. Maquina, the Mowachaht chief, stood, arms folded, at the prow. Ever-impressive, he wore the same ceremonial cloak he always wore when the occasion demanded. His hawk-like eyes swept over the brig and over the men who manned her, finally resting on the armed detail lined up along the brig’s starboard rail.

Looking on, John guessed this was the chieftain he’d so often heard his crewmates talking about. From where he stood, the muscular Maquina looked all of six foot tall and was clearly not a man to cross. The natural dark copper hue of his skin contrasted with the white eagle down that covered his long, black hair and his broad shoulders. His warriors were similarly adorned, though few matched the chief’s physical presence.

By all accounts, Maquina had a fearsome reputation. However, he presided over a territory in which the valuable sea-otter abounded, so it was financially expedient for traders to deal with him……

Product Details

Into the Americas (A novel based on a true story)  is available on Amazon: