This year marks the 100th year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It occurred in the waning hours of April 14, 1912, and carried over into the early hours of the fifteenth, as well. Disasters on such a grand scale seem to hold a lot of fascination for the entertainment industry. Between museums, books, and even a cruise ship that will be undertaking the same route at the same time, with exactly the same amount of people on it, there will be a lot going on. So, why am I telling you all this?
The truth is, I've been getting wrapped up in one of those projects, myself. It all started when Janice Hanna Thompson, who is writing a Titanic novel titled QUEEN OF THE WAVES which will be released through Summerside Press, later this year, came up with one of the best ideas, yet. A "virtual voyage" that will begin April 10, and run all the way through the fateful days of the disaster. People are already choosing someone to represent from the original passenger lists, or a famous character out of a novel that was written about it. I have even heard that the person representing the captain, is an actual descendent. But more about all that later, dear readers, because I will be covering the event over the coming weeks, and bringing you interviews and stories of all that's happening.
Meanwhile, I thought I should open the festivities by interviewing Janice Hanna Thompson, herself, so we can find out more about this idea...
So, hello, Janice, and welcome! First thing I just had to ask: what is it about the TITANIC that made you want to write a book against that backdrop?
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Well, I love stories that are set at the turn-of-the-century. That time period is very special to me. My book HURRICANE (about the Galveston hurricane of 1900) was one of my favorites, and it’s (in part) because of the time period. I’m also fascinated with disaster stories. When I pitched my HURRICANE story back in ’03, I wanted to do a whole series of stories built around disasters. When the offer came to write a book about the Titanic, it met my criteria for the ideal historical: a romantic story set in my favorite time period, focused on a disaster! Voila!
A perfect match, for sure. You must have been interested in that era for a long time to have written so much about it, already.
Yes. Some might be surprised to learn that all of the historical romances I’ve written take place between 1900 and 1920. I’m just nuts about the Edwardian period. I love the clothing, the surge of industrialism, the manner of speech. I love the independent spirit that gripped America during this season. And I’m crazy about the fact that the old world and the new world merged during this era. What better time and setting to place a story?
I agree… and you definitely won't be running out of research material any time soon. Speaking of which, have you come across any particular facts or unusual survivor stories that stand out to you more than others during your research?
A couple stand out. When I went to the Titanic museum in Branson Missouri a couple of weeks ago, I was given the boarding pass for a little girl who actually traveled on the Titanic. Her name was Manca Karun (from Slovenia) and she boarded the ship with her father and her uncle. There’s an amazing tale of her survival (climbing down the ship to the lifeboat). Miraculously, her father survived, too.
I enjoy hearing survivor stories, especially if they have miracles attached. Just out of curiosity, do you like boats in your "real" life, too?
I love to go on cruises. Does that count?
Well, I’ve always been fascinated with large ships, going back to the original Poseidon Adventure movie. There’s something about a floating palace/hotel that just gets me excited. I’ve been on multiple Caribbean cruises. My favorite was aboard the Voyager on the Royal Caribbean line. Talk about luxurious! I loved every minute, including my excursions in the various ports. I’ve also been on a Norwegian cruise liner, as well as a Princess ship. I’d love to take my whole family on a Disney cruise someday, too!
I should also mention that my dad owned a yacht several years ago and we traveled from Dana Point to Catalina Island, in California. Had a blast! Oh, and I have a funny story about a 90-pound tuna that my dad caught aboard a fishing boat in the Bahamas when I was seventeen. Spent most of that trip battling sea-sickness!
I would love to hear those stories. I've spent a lot of time between Dana Point and Catalina, myself, and I know there's a lot that can happen in that twenty-six miles of ocean between those two points. And there's nothing like a good fish story, too.
Janice, I know you've explained how you came up with the idea of the Titanic virtual voyage over on your blog, but I was wondering what your goal for it is, and what you would like participants to take away from it.
My primary purpose is to raise awareness about the 100-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15th, 2012). I want to make my readers feel that they’re actually traveling aboard the real Titanic. That’s why I asked everyone to choose a passenger name and a first, second or third-class boarding pass.
What exactly will people be doing during the virtual voyage? Are there activities and events online that people can interact with?
Already the 135 passengers who’ve signed up are choosing their dinner attire (and bathing suits for the pool). We’re chatting about our upcoming trip non-stop! Starting April 1st I will begin a day-by-day program of sharing with passengers where the real Titanic was on that day, what the workers were doing, where the ship was headed, etc. On the morning of April 10th, we will all “set sail” together. I will “blow the bugle” to let people know when they can go to dinner, etc. It’s going to be great fun! We’ll talk about the menus aboard the ship, what people did for fun each day, even what the dogs were doing! Then, as we approach that fateful day when the ship struck the iceberg, we will talk through the adventure in “real” time. It should be quite an experience. (And how adventurous!)
I couldn't agree with you more, and I don't mind saying this will be my very first "virtual voyage" ever, and I will look forward to talking more with you over the next few weeks. Meanwhile, can you tell us a bit about QUEEN OF THE WAVES?
Sure! QUEEN OF THE WAVES, is my novel about the Titanic that I am currently writing. It’s a twisted tale about a young woman (Jacquie Abingdon) who, without her parents’ knowledge, convinces a friend (Tessa Bowen) to board the Titanic in her place. The story is really mostly about Tessa (pretending to be Jacquie). While onboard the Titanic she meets and falls in love with a young man who has a few secrets of his own.
That’s all I’m willing to share at this point, but I will say that this story is quite different from my usual light-hearted romantic comedies. No funny business here! (Not much, anyway.) I think readers will really appreciate the amount of research that has gone into this story and into the details of the clothing, food and so on. I can’t wait to see the book in print!
And neither can I. It's been great visiting with you, today, Janice, and here's wishing you all the best with this exciting interactive adventure you've dreamed up to go along with it. Since I am an advocate of "armchair traveling," myself, I think it's a fabulous idea.
There you have it, dear readers. If you would like to "sign on" for this passage, yourself, I hear there are still some names on the list that haven't been taken, yet. You can get involved by visiting: The Queen of the Waves Group. Next Monday, I will begin interviewing passengers who already have "their tickets," so be sure to stop back by and meet them!
About Janice Hanna Thompson...
Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym, Janice Hanna. She has published nearly eighty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children’s books and more. She particularly enjoys writing light-hearted, comedic tales because she enjoys making readers laugh. In addition, she enjoys public speaking and mentoring young writers. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. Her tagline, “Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever Afters!” sums up her take on life. You can find out more about her by visitingher website.