The most interesting thing that’s ever happened to me …
The world is a quirky and oftimes scary place. The interesting and unusual lurk around every corner. Or even above your head. And may even be related to you …
In 1931 my great-grandmother, Melanie Artemis Snowy, disembarked from the French steamer Laos, seeking to uncover yet more secrets of the unknown world—this time from rumours of Mayan temples deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle. She was never heard of again.
I never knew my great-grandmother, but I grew up hearing stories of the great adventuress. How she was only the third person to fly alone across the Atlantic after her colleague Amelia Earhart. How she braved the darkest parts of Africa, collecting tokens and stories of the most amazing events.
By the age of ten, I’d started to wonder about the truth of those stories. Whether she really had searched through ancient Iceland or the moors of Cornwall. In the stories she never travelled alone, accompanied by various guides and porters and whatnot, but also by a mysterious friend—an individual who accompanied her everywhere, but somehow never had a name. That part puzzled me the most: if the stories were true, how could he not have a name?
My grandfather, an only child brought up in our ancestral manor in London, and orphaned once she disappeared, maintained to his deathbed that he’d met this mysterious man. But he never could—or never would—describe or name my great-grandmother’s accomplice.
So with growing scepticism I entered my eleventh year. I’d stopped believing in Santa Claus as well, which just goes to show you! One day, playing in the attic in my parents’ rambling house in Melbourne, I came across a trunk that had the dust and scent of a box unopened in decades: one of the wooden sea chests that survived from the destruction of our ancestral home during the war.
I admit curiosity overcame me. What could this chest hold that didn’t deserve the light of day? I admit I fibbed to my mother about the horrendous crunching noise as I wrenched the padlock from the handle with a crowbar. I admit to never telling my friends what I’d found. But from that day my life changed.
The chest contained relics from my great-grandmother. Fascinating stonework from Zambezi, carved wooden statues from South America. And a diary—if it could be called that. For the pages didn’t hold the usual depictions of a day in an emotional life; in fact, it possessed hardly any reference to Melanie at all. Instead the diary contained literally hundreds of anecdotes, notes and diagrams of the most amazing things. Secrets. Conspiracies. Miracles.
Since that day, the contents of that chest have weighed heavily on my mind. I return to it often, and through it I’ve tried to recreate my great-grandmother’s life. But the answers I find lead only to more questions.
I can’t escape the feeling she knew something, and maybe the answer to the enigma lies in that chest. You see, every so often the oddest things happen to me, events that seem related to that chest. And they are not always warm and wonderful. At times I find them quite disturbing. Maybe I’ll write about them at some point.
In any case, I determined early on that the fantastic ideas in Melanie’s diary were too good to keep to myself, but I never knew how to do that.
Now, after years of learning how to craft a story I’m able to share them with the world. The 12 Nights of Jeremy Sunson draws inspiration from a number of the notes in that diary, and so does In Harm’s Way. I hope you enjoy them for my great-grandmother’s sake. Who knows—I might even learn more about her and whether she really did uncover secrets hidden from the world?