Friday, 11 May 2012

Raise Your Glass Blog Hop featuring A.J. Llewellyn

Moby's Dick - A Tale of a...Tale
By A.J. Llewellyn

Thank you Anna for hosting me today!
I've had a wonderfully happy and successful creative collaboration with author D.J. Manly. There is a true meeting of the minds between us and I can hardly stand myself when I get a call from D.J. saying, "You know, I have this idea..."
Similarly, D.J. gets these calls from me, too!
I have another collaboration that is different - a visual one - with gay porn director John Bruno who has done several covers for me. One book we worked on, Bad Cops, became webisodes on his now-defunct Massive Studio offshoot of Falcon Studios. More were planned, but life has its own ideas sometimes.
Late last year, John who has now relocated to Michigan, asked me if I wanted to do another collaboration. He had an idea of a man out in the ocean rescued by a ship. That was his basic plot. He came up with the title, Moby's Dick and started to work on the cover.
I was intrigued and felt this was a job for both me and D.J. and D.J. loved the idea however as we started to talk the story evolved from that single line John gave us.
We both discovered we had a fascination with the story of the doomed cruise ship, the Costa Concordia. I followed the events rabidly and became utterly consumed with a sidebar story: the numerous salvage crews waiting in the waters off the Amalfi Coast of Italy hoping to land the gig of salvaging the fallen vessel.
Research is one of my favorite parts of writing. I had no idea what salvage work actually entailed and once a crew was assigned to the task I began obsessively researching them and was stunned to learn how many vessels they have rescued - everything from submarines submerged deep in the Arctic Ocean to stranded sea mammals affected by oil leakage.
A story began to emerge and D.J. and I began to work on our whale of a tale. D.J. too, became immersed in the facts of removing oil safely from a ship's hull, and the politics involved.
Salvage crews are the heroes of the modern world.
Beneath the facade of a sort of romance to the idea of a "doomed" ship is the true horror it creates. Firstly of course is the loss of human life.
Secondly, oil leaks into the ocean, chemicals from the ship begin contaminating harbors that local towns rely on for their food and water supply.
I had no idea!
While the search for bodies takes place, salvage is crucial but must wait.
Waiting causes more environmental catastrophe.
Oooh! The angst! As each day of the Costa Concordia's tragedy passed by I began to talk to people. I'm amazed how kind the experts in the field of salvage work are.
They are not vultures waiting to pick at the bones of dead ships.
These are hard-working men of the ocean who are gone from their families for months at a time protecting small towns and big seas...
I loved our characters and I love our story.
At night, I dreamed of Burke Matthews and the man he rescues from the ship, Gabriel Bergeron. I could smell the oil, hear the slap of the waves. This book haunted me because beneath the sand and water was the knowledge that so many people have died at sea and the stories are devastating.
John Bruno, meanwhile fashioned a great cover and we loved it. Then he had to size it to Silver Publishing's specifications and he felt that his story credit made the cover too wordy. I happen to disagree but I am posting both here for the record.
Meanwhile, I still dream at night of Burke and Gabriel...these guys really got to me. Here is the blurb for the story:

Burke Matthews and his wily team of experts on board the salvage cargo ship, The Brigadoon, have hauled everything from Russian nuclear submarines to stranded catamarans. After having spent almost two weeks in the sunny port of Palermo, Italy trying to win the bid to salvage half a million gallons of oil from a distressed cruise ship half-sunk off the coast, Burke starts to worry about the trapped fuel in the ship's hull.

As families of the missing passengers urge the country's environmental minister to hold off the salvage as the search for their loved ones continues, Burke knows with each passing day, hope of life diminishes. There's another problem too. The Bella Donna has crashed in the middle of a marine reserve and is on the verge of fatally contaminating the water that also goes to the main water lines for the entire Amalfi Coast. It's an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

Allowed to drill finally, he is astonished to hear plaintive knocking from an engine room above.
He breaks down the door to find a sick, but very handsome French Canadian waiter trapped for twelve days. Gabriel Bergeron is one of the sexiest guys Burke's ever seen...and he soon learns as he visits the man in a local hospital, one seriously hung dude...

As for me and D.J., the collaborations continue. We have a new, twisty thriller, Haywire coming to Silver Publishing on July 14, a wonderful, tense and sexy cop drama, Orgasmic Texas Dawn right after that...
We look forward to working with John Bruno again soon. I long for a call from the evil genius saying, "You know, I have this idea..."
D.J. and I will be waiting...

Until then here is an excerpt from Moby's Dick, available now from Silver Publishing.

Burke Matthews shifted on his surfboard and gazed out to sea. Foamy waves rolled toward him in perfect sets. The sun suddenly shone, blue sky poking through the ash-colored cloud cover. Ah... It was the ideal day to surf and damn it, nobody was out here to drop in on his rides. He bobbed on a passing wave and sighed. He longed to be part of it all but the only problem was that he wasn't here to play. He was here to work. So far, for the third straight day, nothing was going right and his salvage company was losing money just waiting.

And waiting...

He stared at the capsized wreck of the $450 million cruise liner, the Bella Donna. It was eerie looking at the doomed ship that was so huge it was like a skyscraper lying on its side. He could see that all the doors to the top flight deck's guest rooms were closed. The silence, the lack of activity, was unsettling. Twelve days ago when the ship struck rocks off Salerno on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, he'd seen the images online of the four thousand passengers climbing over the exposed hull in a human chain, using fire hoses, bed sheets and their hands to make it to the lifeboats.

And now, two days of bad weather had turned the rough seas into an impossible task for Burke and his thirty-five man crew. He pocketed his satellite phone in his waterproof vest, awaiting word to begin the long and difficult task of pumping out the incapacitated ship's half million gallons of diesel and oil.

Even in his wet suit, Burke was freezing. He lay on his belly and circled the wreckage of the vessel on his trusty nine-foot pintail. He was still stunned that almost all the passengers had survived the collision. Submerged rocks had ripped a three-foot hole in the Bella Donna's side as she'd set sail late out of Salerno's picturesque Panino seaport at dusk. Rocks the captain hadn't seen. The catastrophe had sent the ship listing to the sea within minutes.

Eighteen people were still missing, presumed dead from the catastrophe that had rocked the popular Italian seaport and touched the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world. Among the missing were seventeen passengers and one crew member, last seen helping passengers off the ship.

From all accounts, the French Canadian waiter, Gabriel Bergeron, who'd made his first voyage with the Bella Donna, had shown incredible bravery in helping others to safety.

And now, he was among the missing.

Search and rescue crews had put their lives on the line to secure and scour the ship. The salvage mission was on hold until deep sea divers could gain access to the fourth deck, where six bodies of the original twenty-four missing passengers had been located.

Not all of the rooms had been searched. Some were fully submerged in water, making the task dangerous and the possibility of survival for the people they found negligible. Still, the search would resume once the weather improved.

In the meantime, there was an environmental disaster in the making. Two thousand three hundred tons of heavy fuel and two hundred tons of diesel oil remained on board and would have to be pumped out.

Burke's British-based salvage company, Durang, had won the bidding war to retrieve the fuel from the wreckage. Burke and his crew on the cargo salvage ship, the Brigadoon, had been in North Africa securing a drilling well that had come loose during a hurricane.

When disaster struck the Bella Donna, Burke and his crew had come straight to Italy and petitioned H.R. Triton, the shipping company that owned the Bella Donna, as well as Italy's environmental minister, Giovanni Russo. Signore Russo had heard of Durang's salvage record and hired Burke's team on the spot.

So far the fuel tanks were still intact. Burke had informed Signore Russo that the sensors he and his crew had placed on the ship the previous morning showed that the Bella Donna had moved nearly five feet overnight.

He'd tried to put a positive spin on it, that it was possible the ship's vibrations had caused the slippage as it settled against the reef. However, he had been honest in his appraisal. He thought she was on her way to sinking.


"As far as we have been able to gage, the ship is sinking about half a centimeter, or about point one nine inches an hour," Burke had said.

"This is important news. The Coast Guard reported something similar. They are worried about the storms predicted for this afternoon. I'll get back to you within the hour, Mr. Matthews," the minister had promised.

Burke believed him.

"In the meantime, if Marco de Magna contacts you, refer him to me."

"Yes, sir," Burke had said. "I will." He'd almost added, with pleasure, but stopped himself.

Please leave a comment to qualify for a free ebook of Moby's Dick...

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1 comment:

  1. Ooh, loved the excerpt! Would love to win a copy of the ebook!