Tuesday 5 July 2011


Back in 1990, I was standing in line at the checkout of a supermarket. In the pre-digital age, I had no device to check my emails while waiting.  I had no choice but stare at the wall of tabloid magazines vying for attention. I hate tabloid magazines. Every year there is an end of the world prediction. No one ever calls them on it when the world doesn't end. And it's anti-climactic.

This particular day one cover caught my eye. The headline read:

Titanic Survivor Found On Iceberg
Trawler Picks Up Young Woman Dressed In 1900s Clothes!

She Thinks It's April 15, 1912 - And Her Dress Is Still Wet!

There was an illustration of the Titanic sinking, a photograph of an iceberg and a sketch-artist's rendering of the woman`s face but didn't show the 1900's clothes. I didn`t even pick up the issue. Even though there have been similar tabloid headlines from the same publication such as:
Titanic Captain Found In Lifeboat!  He Thinks It's April 15, 1912 - And His Pipe Is Still Lit!
And there was also: Titanic Descendents found Living on Iceberg.

It was all laughable and lame, but the first one that I had seen had struck a chord with me.  I knew it was a load of crap. But I was very familiar with the Titanic, having studied the ill-fated ship in great detail out of interest alone. The wheels started turning in my head... What if? What if that really happened?  It would make a great movie... in a Twilight Zone kind of way.  So I wrote it down in my notebook - remember old fashioned spiral-bound notebooks and pens? All I'd have to do now is come up with characters, plot and a reason for such a bizarre thing to happen... hmmm. I would have to mull that over. 

Sixteen years later, I decided to enter the 3-Day Novel Writing Contest. It's such an insane idea to produce a decent story in 72 hours, I wanted to see if I could do it. I was allowed to prepare an idea and even an outline but no allowed to do any writing until the clock started. When I paid my $50 entry fee, I had no idea what I was going to do. I looked through my filing cabinet (junk) drawer and found my old notebooks. Skimming through them I found my scribblings of the headline, "Titanic Survivor Found on Iceberg". 

At this point in my life I had a one-year old daughter. Having a child changes your whole life's perspective. There is nothing I wouldn't do for my daughter to protect her. I would sacrifice my life and if it were possible, I would bend the laws of time and physics for her. From that, the plot for my story began to evolve.

I completed the story over that 72-hour period. It was rough... not only the process but the writing itself. It was just under 70 pages. Which such an insane timeline things like elaborate character development and scene description go out the window. So do grammar and spelling. Still, I was pleased that I did it.

I had planned to expand it to a proper novel and was going to do so in 2007 but the first three chapters of this novel got me another gig: working for the next few years on the novel "Dracula the Un-Dead".  It started out well but there were too many cooks in the kitchen and, in my opinion, it eventually disintegrated into an unholy mess. Though I was pleased with my 'work', it was a huge learning experience in how the publishing world worked and it opened doors for me.  I was proud that it was on the New York Times Best Sellers' List and many reviews praised my historical research.

Moving on, I was then encouraged to expand my short 70-page (17,000 words) story into a full novella. I did so - it was up to 26,000 words. Then my literary agent read it, loved it and felt it would do better as full-length historical-thriller novel. She suggested at the very least 60,000 words but preferred over 80,000. That's a massive expansion. Armed with notes and suggestions from her, I restructured and re-wrote the novel, adding another storyline inspired by a true unsolved murder from 1910. The novel was over 90,000 words when finally completed.  

From a tabloid headline 20 years ago, to this stack of paper pictured here. Inspiration can certainly come from anywhere. What a great journey!
Manuscript for The Depth of Deception.
 UPDATE: (April 2012) My novel Depth of Deception (A Titanic Murder Mystery) can now be purchased at an introductory rate of $0.99 from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007O3IKTY as well as in other e-book formats from Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/144531



  1. And they say The World Weekly News adds nothing to our society — ha!! =)
    Congrats. Can't wait to read the best-selling hardcover version.

  2. Can I coax you into signing a copy for me, dear cousin-o'mine? <3

  3. I remember that magazine cover with the Titanic captain on it as well. I have retold it hundreds of times and still laugh about it 25 years later. "- and his pipe was still lit."