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Friday, December 7, 2018

Inspiration for the Story: Shark Station

I was inspired to write this story by so many different things that it’s hard to list them all, but I’ll share the main ones. One was my love for sharks. I wanted to write a novel where I got to feature some shark species that aren’t as iconic as the great white. In Shark Station, there are five unique scenes with sharks and two additional sharks mentioned in the novel. I wanted to show the grace and beauty of sharks, while at the same time showing how they can be dangerous but aren’t actively seeking out humans to devour. Although as mentioned in my author’s note, I did take some liberties with the story as to where sharks of the deep sea can be found, I didn’t want to include the megalodon as a shark Allie and her friends encounter. I still wanted the book to be as factual as possible when it came to marine life and I felt that resurrecting the megalodon would push the story into a fantasy realm that didn’t fit in with the series. Still, you’ll find two mentions of the megalodon as a reoccurring joke for comic relief.

Yet another inspiration for the novel was partly from James Cameron’s dive to Challenger Deep, which yielded new scientific information about the deepest part of our accessible planet (I’m not including the core of the Earth, let’s be reasonable here). I also was inspired by several science fiction novels and films I’ve seen over the years. As much as I enjoy ocean-related science fiction, I do enjoy reading space science fiction as well. I began to toy with the idea of what it would be like for Allie and Dylan to be confined to a research station similar to a spaceship. What would it be like for them to have to live in close quarters with their friends and be on duty at all times? Would they be able to handle the pressure or crack under the stress? Writing Shark Station allowed me to delve into Allie and Dylan’s characters in a way I hadn’t been able to in the previous novels.

Not only a writer, I’m also a gamer. Earlier this year I purchased a VR headset and discovered the game Ocean Rift. It’s an ocean safari game where you can explore different habitats of the ocean. For the first time, I was able to experience a little of what Allie experiences exploring with the SCUBAPS. A few of the species I encountered on the game were ones I hadn’t thought of putting in the novels, but after experiencing the virtual reality game, I decided to feature them in Shark Station. I also referred back to the game several times while writing the novel to gain a deeper understanding of Allie’s emotions as she explored the deep.

Lastly, the other main inspiration for this story came from the amazing creatures that live in the deep. I wanted to highlight the differences in the hadal zone versus the bathypelagic where Oceania rests. The Mariana Trench served as the perfect location to explore, especially since so little about it is known. The Challenger Deep is the deepest part of the ocean, but I purposely didn’t choose it as the location for Shark Station because it is so often focused on. Instead, I decided on the second deepest part of the ocean—Sirena Deep. Every time I think of an interesting setting for the novel, I kick myself when it comes time to do research and I can’t find much information on the topics I wish to write about. The research I was able to conduct on the Sirena Deep amounted to a small paragraph. My first thought was what in the world am I going to do with such little information, then I realized it was a blessing because I could take more artistic liberties with the story such as including animals that may or may not live in the Sirena Deep. I enjoyed including rare fish like the snailfish—the world’s deepest known fish, barreleye fish, and the Dumbo octopus. I can’t wait to highlight them in my next blog post on the sea creatures in the novel. This time, the sea creatures will be categorized a little differently than in previous blog posts. You’ll have to wait until next month and see.

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