Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yet Another Ambitious Seafaring Suspense Novel?

Last year beginning around Feb., I began TITANIC 2012 - Curse of RMS Titanic, and I tried to do my best to keep a running blog or log or diary of progress, success, failures, steps going forward, steps going back...various stages of development of the novel and a running commentary....

Well now after the success of completing TITANIC and now that it has been up for sale on Kindle for some time, I went seeking a new project that was equal to the task of being on a par with Titanic, as I feel Titanic, my Titanic with its various layers, interesting characters, and its new theory of the crime that absolved the iceberg and took Capt. Edward Smith off history's shady pedestal.

So where to go, what to do... After taking a break from the heavy-duty writing, I did a quick book 4 in a horror series I had penned as Geoffrey Caine years back. Always wanted to work again with Dr. Abraham Stroud, arecheologist and vampire/werewolf slayer, so BAYOU  WULF came into being while I allowed something more major, bigger, more ambitious to percolate and it came to me -- Go Find The BISMARCK.

Go after the Bismarck just as Dr. Robert Ballard did not rest on his laurels of finding the Tianic, where she sat on the ocean floor. Ballard next set his sights on The Bismarck, so why not do the same, only give it my special stamp. Give it intrigue, make it compelling, bring in Hitler, get into his head a bit, get into his obsession with the occult and what that might have to do with the ill-fated Bismarck.

And how can I get an Alastair Ransom-type character during WWII aboard the ship to act as hero?  Would he be German or British? Would he have help or act as a loner?  And what about alternating chapters with a current day or futuristic tale of divers going into the now wreck -- as I did with Titanic, only while making it 'somewhat familiar' making sure it is uniquely its own story?

These WHAT IF questions form the backbone and skeletal makeup of story, and they represent the first "percolating process" for the imagination. They help me SEE scenes, picture the moment(s), imagine the dialouge and scenes and characters.  I imagine the principle characters about a country store cracker-barrel or in this case the ship's galley -- of course aboard the largest battleship ever built to that date, Bismarck's Galley was likely two or three huge rooms needed to feed a crew of some two thousand.

In any event, I want to do my best again for youZ guyZ -- to do a kind of Julia & Julia Journal but this one is not about cooking food but cooking up an imagination emporium--another word for a helluva novel. So am making this ANNOUNCEMENT here and now -- GONNA NEED A TITLE...SO THERE WILL BE A TITLE CONTEST.

Am  GOING to need some 'throwaway' characters - extras willing to die on the Bismarck, but this time German names will be in order for the most part. There will be a slew of other names during the telling of the modern dive to Bismarck story, however, so I will be asking for volunteers -- you give me the green light and I will kill you off in brutal fashion in the story I am tentatively calling BISMARCK 1941 - 2012 or Bismarck 2013.  Much depends on how soon I can get the novel penned as to that significant date.

So am putting out the call to NAME the story contest, and seeking Extras willing to die for the cause.

I will be posting these needs on facebook, twitter, driving people here and there. For the time being if you'd care to read on here are the opening scenes so far. PLEASE tell me what you think in the comments section.

Here is the excerpt in very Rough Form:

                   B I S M A R C K   2013

May 5, 1941 aboard the Bismarck

Adolph Hitler smiled and rocked on his heels, 5’10 in his British-made Wellington boots; he smiled and turned his head in all directions from the bridge of the deadliest battleship ever to set sail on the high seas—Bismarck. He’d come aboard with heavy security, and Lt. Commander Peter Dorfmann had noticed the box—a wooden crate marked as canned fruit, ostensibly a gift for Admrial Lutgens. Hitler’s entourage plied directly to the Admiral’s quarters first, deposited the gift, and had returned to inspect the rows upon rows of sailors lining the deck to greet him, after which came the speech-making.

Dorfmann, well aware of the fidgeting among the ranks now, did his best to set an example, staring up at the fuehrer with a look of pride affixed to his face. He did so while his eyes wandered to the other officers aboard that he could see from his vantage point. There was X whose adoration for Hitler could not be matched. Not far from X, stood X, who was equally excited to greet the leader of the Third Reich who had graced the ship with a blessing now, ending with, “I pray not for you men of Bismarck, for many will die to achieve our ends. I pray not for the Bismarck herself.” Hitler’s voice had gone to an uncharacteristic whisper at the microphone that covered most of his blunt features. Peter wondered how the man could say such things and not a single grumble from the men aboard this ship when Hitler ended with, “I pray for der reich, the Fatherland!”

This sent a cheer up among the men so loud that it sent seagulls a mile away scurrying.

Bismarck, named for its architect Johan Bismarck, had been originally christened and launched amid a crowd of thousands who’d swarmed into the Hamburg shipyards of 14 February 1939 to celebrate the launch of Germany’s grandest battleship. Cheers had filled the air that day, and Peter had been on hand, in his uniform, under orders to be there among the onlookers, giving the Nazi salute as the ceremony came to a close and the giant warship groaned and slowly slid from its gantry and into the water for the first time. At the time, Peter hadn’t a clue that he would be enlisted to be among Bismarck’s crew.

So why now, two years later, with almost the entire continent of Europe save Russia and Spain under Nazi control, was Hitler here, aboard, carting oranges and apples to Admiral Lutgen’s quarters?

Peter was born curious and he was raised cynical.

As for Hitler, Adolph, Peter privately called him, Peter could hardly believe the events that had led Hitler from a failed soldier, a failed artist, a failed family man to this—his prominence as the leader of the Third Reich, but it must be destined, it must be fate, a higher power to which, someday, Adolph might perhaps bow to give thanks. As for the battleship Bismarck, her guns the most enormous ever devised, Hitler smiled even wider now, no doubt at the thought of the power beneath his feet, at the adoration of the mariners, and at Admiral Gunther Lutgens introduction. Not that the Fuhrer needed any introduction.

Still the introduction went on at length, followed by a welcome aboard from Captain Johan Lindermann, who kept it short. Peter thought he detected a minute and quickly covered smirk from Lindermann.

Still with Hitler basking in it, the long and winding introduction, filled as it were with praise for his leadership and vision for the Fatherland, finally closed, and Adolph, feeling a twinge of his childhood fantasies bubbling up, raised his hand to the two thousand men aboard Bismarck and shouted, “Seig heil, sieg heil.” To which the men responded in one voice, two replies: “Sieg Heil,”—to Victory—and “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!”

And so it went on. It went on long. Every proud young seaman in the Der Deutbchen Krietgsmarine stood on the decks, arms raised in the now well-known Nazi salute, and when the combined nearly two thousand men raised their voices, shouting Zeig Hiel, Zeig Hiel, it felt as if Bismarck herself shook with the reverberation.

May 5, 2012 at the wreck site in the Irish Sea

The black undersea cosmos at these depths could not be calculated for its sheer impact on the human psyche. Ryne Muellerheim slid in behind Horst Baderfitz as they closed in on the sunken Bismarck, encased as they were in the underwater marvel of a mini-sub, the Blitzmariner, of modern German design.    

Both divers could trace their ancestry back to the men on the shipwreck they were racing toward—the infamous German destroyer, Bismarck. They moved through the deep like a wave, hardly noticeable even on the radar screens manned by people who expected to see them, the captain and crew of Victory, the seagoing salvage ship that meant to take what it could from the bowels of the sunken WWII battleship.

They had little interest in anything else such as precisely how or why she sank as history dictated her demise quite thoroughly, although some scholars questioned the odds of a direct hit on her rudder by a single torpedo fired from a plane like some gift from the gods of the British fleet and ample vengeance for the sinking of The Hood, the Lusitania, and Titanic’s sister ship, Britannic—all of which had been sent to the bottom by German engineering of one kind or another.

Ryne and Horst watched out the portals, marveling at there being no wake, no bubbles, nothing to indicate they were here. They traveled much as a shark or dolphin. Absolute silent running in what amounted to a high-tech titanium shark, a sleek, space-age designed undersea craft created specifically for this, the most ambitious salvage of a dead ship at such depths in all of history. They meant to make a fortune along with that history.

The Bismarck sat at the sea bottom in the straights of the Irish Sea in a deep valley floor. It would be 4,570 meters or 15,000 feet to the surface should they encounter any problem. In other words, miles to the surface once they exited Victory and dared enter Bismarck. The two men had seen graphs depicting the depth, putting New York’s Empire State building on the bottom for comparison alongside Paris’ Eiffel Tower and Toronto’s CN Tower—all dwarfed to the size of a needle on such graphs. It was a miracle that Robert Ballard had ever found Titanic, and even more of a miracle that he’d located the Bismarck in 1989 at such depths. All thanks to the advanced underwater sonar developed by the US Navy.

A school of krill suddenly engulfed them, the cloud so thick as to blot out sight.

Damn, it’s like a white out in Upstate New York!” shouted Ryne, who’d spent some time in America.

Horst nodded. “Like million diamonds blinking down on—” but he didn’t finish before the implosion of Victory, killing everyone aboard instantly, the two German divers and George Fleet, the man at the controls. They never knew what hit them aside from the krill storm but Victory had slammed into Bismarck like an airplane hitting a mountainside. The krill had blinded Victory’s pilot long enough for Bismarck to kill them all.

At the surface, everyone aboard The North Star—an oceangoing scientific and salvage ship, those at the monitors sat stunned, aghast at knowing the expedition was over, doomed to failure. One man had noted the sudden cloud on the radar screen that had engulfed Victory and the three men inside with the suddenness of a storm at sea. At the last possible moment, Fleet, steering the sub, had shouted out the word ‘whale’. Where there was krill, there was whale. He’d most likely—though no one would ever know for certain—cut away from the whale to avoid hitting it only to crash into Bismarck rather than make a soft landing aboard her.

Rob Walker
Titanic 2012


Marta Moran Bishop said...

Well Rob I was married to a German whose last name was Hamm and my name is Marta once known as Marta Hamm I will be your first volunteer to die on either end of the Bismark. I spent 3 years in Germany my ex's father was in the Hitler youth and his mother's uncles in the Jewish camps. You can kill off Marta Hamm (she know longer exists anyway.)

The vanquishing of the mighty would be my subtitle choice.
Marta Moran-Bishop

Warren Bull said...

I thought the ship was named for the "Iron Chancellor," Otto von Bismarck. I can not supply you with shark bait this time but my father's name was Ivan. How about Ivan Buelll?

Descent Into an icy Hell

Rob Walker said...

Warren, You're already in Bayou Wulf as Warren Bull, a werewulf. But I should be able to find room for an Ivan Buell. You are right about Bismarck. In early stages of a book, if I have not a name in front of me, I use John. Then later replace all the 'Johns' with the proper names.

Thanks and I'll put your title suggestion down alongside Marta's. Marta, can bet I will put this info to use. Thanks too for the suggestion on character names and title.


Mandy said...

I LOVE THE BISMARCK! I would be willing to die, but seeing that I am female and there were no females present (unless you include Bismarck LOL) I guess I can't. But here's a suggestion, how about putting a von Richthofen onboard. There seems to be as much controversy surrounding Bismarck's death as there is Manfred von Richthofen's (the Red Baron) death. Might be an idea to have a famous Richthofen name die with a famous battleship!! Just a thought!