Thursday, February 5, 2009

Unpredictable Crossing

My husband and I just returned from a Panama Canal cruise. The photo to the left is our ship Regatta of Oceania Cruises at dock in Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, a favorite port of ours. The time on board was a welcome opportunity to think through several issues involving my next book which involves a cruise ship.
My intention was to have it published this year, but with the economic changes, I've decided to wait another year and possibly move to another publisher. While I was on the cruise, I discovered new insights and segments of dialogue from the characters that I would like to incorporate in the finished manuscript.
Let me tell you a little bit about how this book idea came to be. Years ago, we were on a cruise ship off the coast of South America. Many of the crew were Portuguese and had fought in the army to prevent the African colonies from gaining independence. I was seated in a lounge one afternoon when two Portuguese dining room waiters entered in the middle of a heated argument. They paused at the door near my chair and continued their quarrel with the assumption that their Portuguese conversation would be safe as few know the language. Whenever I hear Portuguese being spoken or sung, however, it penetrates my consciousness and interrupts whatever I'm doing. While I had no interest in the content of their discussion, it did plant the seed for this third manuscript, UNPREDICTABLE CROSSING.
The basis for this novel is that horrible massacres occurred in Mozambique during its war for independence from Portugal. Since the U.S. was preoccupied with the Vietnam War and the massacre at My Lai, few knew what had occurred in Mozambique. My imagination began asking questions. What if there had been a lone survivor of the massacres? What if years later that person encountered the captain who ordered the massacre on a cruise ship? These two questions form the foundation for the manuscript. I chose an Atlantic crossing so that the two people would have a chance to encounter and recognize each other.
Research for this manuscript involved interniewing staff captains, security personnel, and directors of childrens programs on cruise ships. I also reviewed the new Portuguese constitution in Portuguese and then in English. The process of dealing with crimes against humanity was another topic meritting careful review.
The research was easy as I could draw on my professional skills prior to retirement, but bringing these characters to life is the challenge. I'll keep you up to date on my progress to have this story published.
In the meantime, enjoy the season, find pleasure in simple things and revel in life itself.

No comments: