Dive, dive, dive!
If there’s something I love writing about, it’s characters pitched into conflict in a claustrophobic atmosphere. Avid readers of my books will have recognised that ships provide a perfect opportunity to create these situations. People exist in close proximity and are confined to the low-ceilinged decks of their ship, unable to escape the environment, while the mood can be dictated by the weather and sea state, night and day, adding to the sense of compression and tension in the conflicts that result.
With that in mind, it’s amazing that it’s taken me this long to turn my attention to that most claustrophobic of maritime venues – submarines.
I took a break from writing Horla today to work up a reasonable story outline of a future novel set on a submarine. I’ve been reading a couple of excellent Cold War thrillers and non-fiction books recently that brought home just how utterly claustrophobic life aboard a submarine was for the sailors who rode them. In Jonah, I tried to exploit the tight confines of a ship as tempers frayed and minds became unhinged, and explored the effects of the enforced proximity of dozens of people of different personalities and backgrounds unable to escape from one another.
In a submarine, those consequences are amplified by the crushing sensation of thousands of tons of water pressing all around the sealed metal tube where dozens must live and work for months on end. Seminal works like The Hunt for Red October, films like Crimson Tide and the extraordinary German TV movie Das Boot have all contributed to our perception of life on board submarines, with varying degrees of dramatic or literary licence.
I began with a simple idea and before long I had a reasonable story mapped out which shows a lot of promise! I’m glad I’ve got another skeleton novel in the closet ready to be fleshed out sometime in the future.
I can promise you my treatment of submariners will be filled with the kind of tension and suspense you’d expect from the genre but will offer something new and unpredictable besides!