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Roger, welcome to my website. I am thrilled to talk to you about your new novel The Abalone Ukulele for our HNS Zoom presentation Wednesday September 22 at 6.00 pm.


You have three vivid characters whose collisions propel the action: Yi, the Korean, on a quest to regain his country's stolen tribute money; Hobson, U.S. naval Petty Officer, son of American missionaries who raised him in Korea; and Hellfire Spuyten, a thorough American thug. Who inspired you first as a plot and emotion driver?


Hobson came first, but it was clear to me that his connection with Korea as a child was not enough. Moreover, I didn't want Hobson the one with all the answers or the only one capable of making things happen.


Skookum Yi came to me in a dozen ways. I knew Korea paid tribute to China from my many trips to Korea. A cruise down the coast of Alaska gave me more ideas. I didn't want Hobson to be the lone hero, and I didn't want to portray a military operation as a one-man affair. They never are and I owe my reader some honesty even in fiction.


Yes, this insistence on integrity is very appealing. Please go on.


In my research I came across The Seamen's Act of 1915 made merchant officers and shipowners accountable for brutalizing their crews.


Diederik Cornelius "Hellfire" Pedersen was one of the first captains tried under the act. Hellfire Pedersen routinely intimidated his crews by tossing men over the side as a warning to the others. Apparently, Pedersen believe his license title, "master," was without limitation.


"Hellfire" and the brood I gave him provided me with a villain the reader could truly hiss at without restraint. He took some of the load off Imperial Japan.


Ah, so Hellfire Spuyten has an historical model. Good to know the historical Hellfire faced accountability! Ukulele, Abalone. I am curious how you picked this title?


After I wrote Jade Rooster I had an opportunity to enter a writers mentorship program which revolved around writing a short story.


My idea for a story centered on the robbery of a pawnshop. I once heard the description of a typical Navy town as bar-pawnshop-church, bar-pawnshop-church and repeat. Hobson had to be the sleuth and Shanghai the venue. Why would Hobson pay inordinate attention to a pawnshop? It held something he wanted.


Well, sailors don't have much room to store their possessions. I remember hearing some old salt saying that at NTC San Diego every sailor's first paycheck in the '60s went to a buying a guitar and a fringed western jacket. I further remembered Arthur Godfrey a famous Navyman and later celebrity picked up playing the ukulele as a radioman. In the early '20 C., with sailors still using hammocks, a ukulele (a small guitar) made more sense.


My happiest times in San Diego were spent diving for abalone, and staging abalone cookouts with my soon-to-be wife. The combination tongue twister, "Abalone Ukulele," seemed both memorable and appropriate.


Sliced, pounded, and breaded abalone steaks are a bit of Heaven. The patterns of their colorful shells are what I imagine the sky looks like in Heaven. A few ukulele makers agree with me and incorporate that beauty in inlays and picks.

So that's about it.


Thanks, Roger. Congratulations on a thrilling, complex tale. We look forward to talking more on September 22.



Top reviews from the United States


Art McCormick


5.0 out of 5 stars


Maritime intrigue at its best!


Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2021

Having spent some time in the Navy, including a tour in Asia, I profoundly enjoyed reading R L Crossland's historical novel, Jade Rooster and enthusiastically looked forward to a sequel. Although it turned out to be years in the making, reading The Abalone Ukulele proved it was worth the wait.

Whether you're an Old Salt reliving memories, a young Striker anticipating excitement, or an Arm Chair Sailor vicariously sharing in naval maneuvers, Petty Officer Hobson and Lieutenant Junior Grade Draper will escort you through an international adventure complete with intrigue, mayhem, violence, friendship, and romance.

And best of all it comes wrapped in historically correct naval customs and traditions.

A must read for any fan of naval history written by someone with 35 years of US Navy service!



Richard Reed

5.0 out of 5 stars


Testing mettle in pursuit of metal

Reviewed in the United States on July 30, 2021

Intersectionality being all the current rage, R.L. Crossland's whimsically titled adventure yarn The Abalone Ukelele – A Tale Of Far Eastern Intrigue hits a number of strands, more in the Far East than with regards to ukeleles. Spanning the years from 1893 to 1913, the story touches on the disparate precious-metal interests of China, Japan, the Alaska territory, and colonial Korea. An indulgent British Empire stands by in China, which permits a reluctant intervention by the U.S. Navy. From the latter, the author thoroughly appropriates its East Asia fleet culture of the early 20th Century. Altogether, the tale told is Goldfinger meets The Sand Pebbles, with some knives taken to gun fights.




Stephen T. Hazam

5.0 out of 5 stars


A tale of action, intrigue, revenge and redemption across the Pacific Rim in the early 1900s

Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2021

In his novel, The Abalone Ukulele, Captain R. L. Crossland has crafted a compelling tale of action and intrigue, taking us along a journey of revenge and redemption that touches both sides of the Pacific.


Along the way we meet unforgettable fellow travelers that include "Skookum" Yi, Ephraim Coffin, Quartermaster Hobson, "Clementine", "Professor" Draper, Miss Franconia Knapp, "Hellfire" Spuyten and others. Your attention will be rewarded as the various twists and turns of the pathways converge to reveal the machinations of individuals, organizations and national powers. Across two decades and thousands of miles, the story remains authentic to time and place. I most enjoyed the sharp portrayals of Crossland's characters and the colorful descriptions of his varied landscapes.


When I close my eyes, I can see them still.



5.0 out of 5 stars


Maritime historical fiction in the tradition of Patrick O'Brian

Reviewed in the United States on July 19, 2021

The ABALONE UKULELE, the most recent novel by Captain Roger Crossland USN (ret.), offers an intriguing look at a pivotal point in time on the far side of the Pacific Ocean – a period spanning some thirty years prior to World War One and little known outside of that immediate region. Captain Crossland has expertly interwoven historical events and personages with fictional events and heroic characters, providing a powerful and intimate look at the chessboard of international power play. The story is a skillfully woven interplay between four nations – China, Korea, Japan, and the United States of America – and presents readers with events as seen through the eyes of those directly engaged in the action. Trust, betrayal, political intrigue, and amazing heroics, performed by ordinary men and women faced with extraordinary circumstances, move through the story at an extraordinary pace.


Captain Crossland continues the fine tradition of maritime historical fiction established by renowned author, Patrick O'Brian, and leaves the reader turning the final page and hoping desperately that more will follow.


-Steve Robinson, Author of the book 'NO GUTS, NO GLORY – Unmasking Navy SEAL Imposters' (2002); a former enlisted US Navy SEAL whose service was contemporary with Captain Crossland.



Capt K. W. Maxwell

5.0 out of 5 stars


Super Intrigue

Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2021

Wonderful reading experience

Delivers a true sense of adventure-mixed with historical events

A definite read for all mariners who dream of the days with the great white fleet

Brings to life the early 20th century Far East waterfronts.


Gordon Cucullu

5.0 out of 5 stars


Masterful Storytelling

Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2021

Crossland, relying on decades of on-the-ground experience and study, has written a highly entertaining historical novel of one of the most exciting periods of history. As nations and empires rose and fell key players on all sides influenced events in ways that even they little understood. Crossland masterfully captures the unique aspects of each nation in ways that shows an in-depth understanding of the peoples and cultures that few others possess. Through it all he weaves a highly suspenseful story of intrigue, betrayal, and opportunity. This is a page-turner that will delight and thrill you. Highly recommend!


Navy Vietnam Veteran

5.0 out of 5 stars


A great historical Navy novel

Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2021

In his new novel, The Abalone Ukulele, Roger Crossland has captured an important but largely overlooked period in the history of the role of the United States Navy in the Far East. His Chinese, Korean, and American heroes thwart a plot by the already brutal Imperial Japan to subjugate its neighbors. Captain Crossland's experience in the Navy and the Orient makes The Abalone Ukulele a gripping and realistic tale of leadership and action in ever dangerous settings. The novel foreshadows the tensions among the same four nations, now in different alignment, in our own times. What is past may well be prologue, and we who have served in the Navy hope that our fleet will be able to meet the challenges yet again, and as successfully as chronicled by Crossland.



Sage of Salem

5.0 out of 5 stars nice thriller..lot of action

Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2021

Great read, great characters, great geographical and political backgrounds. Nice story. Especially Loved the character Yi.


The dialogue of American sailors and Shanghai residents very authentic.


Even enjoyed despising the Spuyten clan.




R. F. Kenney

5.0 out of 5 stars R. F. Kenney

Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2021

A wonderfully written fictional novel based on historical events that took place in 1913.


Captain Crossland documents each of the roles that were played by the United State Navy along with Korea, China and Japan, resulting in the delivery of another entertaining thriller. Quite a page turner!



H. B. Gibbons

5.0 out of 5 stars


QM3 Hobson and LTJG Draper return

Reviewed in the United States on August 25, 2021

Following a visit to the Northwestern Pacific goldfields, CAPT Crossland again introduces his reader to Quartermaster Third Class Hobson, USN, and Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Draper, New York Naval Militia,first introduced in Jade Rooster, as they continue to serve in the early 20th. century's US Asiatic Fleet, following the collapse of China's Qing dynasty, and the modernizing of Japan.


We meet them, this time,in port in Shanghai, where through their adventures, we see our new century coming into being. As before, this visit into their world informs, entertains, and enlightens. Their next adventure is eagerly awaited.