Titanic Panic final word
The book is available now.
The idea came to me while driving to work. I simply thought to myself: “What if there was a murder mystery set during the Titanic’s infamous voyage.” Once I sat down at my desk I quickly jotted down the idea and added one more note: “The murder gets resolved on a lifeboat after the sinking.”
That was it.
It’s a minor idea but it had potential. That was in February. By that point I was already a few weeks into writing GZA and was thinking about the possibility of a sequel. I ended up writing an open-ended final chapter but decided I liked it better to keep it that way. Prequels and set-up stories intrigued me more, and that’s where I got the idea of a story about a scientist who first develops the drug that becomes the miracle medicine in GZA.
It was an easy jump to connect those two stories into one, and set the scientist’s tale on the Titanic, giving it an interesting backdrop.
It wasn’t until I finally sat down to outline the thing that I realized I needed more going on than just the scientist and his assistant running around the Titanic being chased by zombies. That’s where Lily’s story came into the picture. She and her fellow characters provided a nice alternative to the story of Sam and Victor. The characters could be livelier, funnier, and with a plot that was separate until they all ended up on the boat.
Originally the Titanic was going to set sail after act one but as Lily’s story grew, I felt the need to expand Sam’s story to keep them balanced. This resulted in two originally-unintended consequences. First, a fourteen-chapter book became a twenty-one chapter book (and eventually a twenty-two chapter finished product). Second, no one gets on the boat until halfway through the story. I think it was the right move as I needed to develop those characters and establish the personal stakes before everything gets crazy.
My favorite part of writing the book was the introduction to Molly Brown. My favorite chapter was the one where Sam had to go grave-digging.
Easily my least favorite part of the experience was constantly googling and referencing the schematics of the boat. Eventually I just deciding I didn’t care for 100% accuracy and just wrote what I wanted (it probably ended up being 70% accurate in terms of where things were, etc).
Finally, I must thank Brianna, my friend of almost twenty-years for the title. I pitched the plot summary to her on a lark while sitting in a movie theater waiting for my show to start. She rattled off a ton of potential offerings, including
Rancor Anchor (which I rejected only because of my subtle speech impediment with “R’s”)
After-Life Boat (which became a chapter title)
Her help will definitely be solicited again in the future.