Writers get their ideas from a variety of places—experience, newspaper articles, overheard conversations, movies. I’m happy to say that my first novel, ATLANTIS FIRE, now available as an eBook online (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc.) was based on a true experience—and one that nearly killed me.
Five times during the 1970s I had visited the Greek island of Santorini—perhaps the most popular of Aegean islands, and the most magical. Because of the beautiful and violent volcanic nature of the place, I had thought that it would be a great locale for an adventure novel. The only problem was that I hadn’t had the adventure.
But in the late 1970s, I got that adventure—more than I had bargained for.
I had just gotten certified as a scuba diver and joined an Earthwatch team of other divers volunteering to help a marine archaeologist locate Phoenician and Roman shipwrecks off the Spanish island of Mallorca. Fishermen had pulled up ancient artifacts, and the scientist wanted to see if he could find a shipwreck that had not been ravaged by sea time or looters.
After a week, we began finding pieces of amphoras and other artifacts from Roman wrecks that had sunk off the coast over 2000 years ago. One day while excavating shards of amphoras and other pottery about a mile off shore and in only 30 feet of clear water, a speed boat passed over our bubbles. In spite of the fact that our inflatable Zodiac was anchored just above us with a red-and-white dive flag, the boat raced through our bubbles again and again and again. The first time is an accident, the second time is stupid, the third, fourth, and fifth time meant danger.
Unfortunately, we were nearly out of air, yet the boat kept turning around and crossing over us. After the 6th or 7th pass, the drivers of the boat let out anchors swinging on chains at 20 mph in effort to gaff us on the fast moving spikes and pull us out to sea to drown. Near panic and almost out of air, my dive buddy and I shot to the surface following another pass. Seeing our heads break the surface, those in the boat headed for shore. Yet they had slashed our rubber boat so we had to paddle back to land.
At that time, we didn’t know that our little marine archaeological expedition had trespassed into the middle of an antiquities black market operation involving dealers who were stealing booty from Mediterranean shipwrecks and selling it to collectors and museums around the world. And the owner of the speed boat was a local Godfather and head of the operation—a lawyer by profession and antiquities smuggler on the side. He even managed to get the local naval commandant to revoke our diving permits. But we got them back because we had an underwater metal detector that he wanted to borrow, hoping to find gold and silver on another Roman wreck he had located. His house had more Phoenician artifacts than Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. This guy was a big-time crook. But we wanted to get back into the water and let him borrow the device for a day with the conditions that we get our dive permissions back and we go along on his boat with our metal detector. Although we could not dive, we free dove (no scuba gear) while they were deep on their virgin Roman wreck to watch them stack booty underwater to be raised at another time. The next day we got our permits back and found our own 2nd century BC Roman wreck.
I still remember thinking back then that if I got out of that experience alive, I’d write a book about it. I did and moved the locale to the Aegean island of Santorini, the ancient outpost of the Minoan Empire, and upped the ante to the discovery of the sunken world and vast treasure of Plato’s legendary Atlantis. That’s the story behind ATLANTIS FIRE.
Some Praise for ATLANTIS FIRE:
“A fast, colorful suspense-adventure. The story races to a literally explosive climax that is better than [Peter] Benchley [Jaws, The Deep] at his best. . . Atlantis Fire blew me away. This is a fine thriller, seasoned with wit and sensibility.” — Stephen King
“A lively and dramatic story of underwater exploration, of the stunning discovery of what may be the lost city of Atlantis, and its golden treasure. . . . full of chilling surprises.” — Publishers Weekly
“An entertainment full of eminently filmable aquatic action and scenic locales.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Archaeological diving sequences are very well done—the author has actually participated in such expeditions. . . The climax, a free-for-all fight in underwater caves . . . is as exciting as any reader would want.” — Library Journal