Sunday, March 29, 2015

Write What You Know

     If they mean, what you have experienced personally - Yes, and No.
     Just think how poor literature would be without the boundless imagination of writers. I have always been fascinated and grateful to be able to escape to exotic places with larger-than-life characters. So what if I have to look up words and places? It’s a wonderful way to learn and grow, as I have with the great writers.
     On the other hand, personal experiences inevitably do slip into our own writing. You can’t help it, no matter how brilliant your research or how faraway a setting is. People we know, love–or don’t love quite so much–find their way into our characters, changing to our whim like chameleons.
     After I published KHAMSIN, The Devil Wind of The Nile, a novel about Ancient Egypt, some people did ask me if I had been “there.” In 3080 BC, nobody’s been there. Everything else can be gleaned from pouring over the many great archaeological outpourings. In weaving it all together, of course, we are on your own.
     Then came SIROCCO, Storm over Land and Sea. Now, here I did draw on my own sailing/cruising experience and the intimate knowledge of life on a sailboat. I also vividly remember the not-so-pleasant times when our metal mast was the only thing sticking up—in a lightning storm. Suddenly, a dark shadow looms high above you riding on the crest of a monster wave—all you want to do then is to run home to mother!
     When I wrote After the Cataclysm, I imagined a huge steel monster almost running the little Esperanza down and I remembers how my skipper loved to blast Wagner’s powerful music of The Flying Dutchman over the outside speakers when things got rough.
* * *
    Read the excerpt while listening to the music; it’s powerful—it certainly spurned my imagination.
     Fritz Wunderlich (pictured here as part of his life's story-which you will not hear), was an incredibly gifted German tenor, who, after a tragic accident, left us much too young, wanting more.
     The music you hear, of course, is the Sailors' Chorus taunting the Dutchman to leave his watch and come celebrate with them on shore.
     The images of ocean life are beautiful; however, at about 6:16 of the 7-minute tape, you will surely forgive that a terrified young Sam makes nine letters of a not-so-polite expression that usually is said to be a four-letter word.

Excerpt from After the Cataclysm -Part III, Chapter 8
 © Inge H. Borg

     The panic-stricken shout from inside the wheelhouse was followed by the cough of the ignition being turned over time and again. The starter didn’t catch. The wheelhouse door was ripped open. “The bastard’s going to run us down,” Sam cried into the dark cockpit.
     Jonathan pushed Naunet away and jumped up, almost crumpling into the well. His left leg had fallen asleep as he had held Naunet, comforting her, assuring her that everything would turn out all right. “Get on the horn!”
     Sam had already flipped the switch of the shortwave. He grasped the mike and pressed the ‘transmit’ button so hard he was afraid he would embed it into the surrounding plastic.
     “Sécurité, sécurité, sécurité,” the youth cried into the mike as if the higher volume of his voice would make a difference. “This is the sailing vessel Esperanza.” He shakily gave their coordinates and heading. “Large ship bearing down on us, please alter course to west-northwest. We are unable to move out of your way.” He depressed the button. Jonathan and he held their breath for an answer hoping the other guy on watch wasn’t dozing.
     Panic transmits itself quickly throughout the confines of a small boat. By now everyone crowded into the wheelhouse. They did not dare to say anything as they waited for a reply to Sam’s urgent transmission, imagining what would happen if it did not come. Too many large ships never knew they had run down a sailboat. Not until, by daylight or in the next port, they found tattered rigging dangling from one of their bow anchors. In his mind, Jonathan ticked off the steps required to release their lifeboat canister strapped down on deck in front of the main mast. Oh God, he prayed, let the damn thing cross in front of us just this one time.
     “Sailing vessel Esperanza,” a pleasant, nonchalantly professional voice boomed back at them. “We have you on radar. Passing to your starboard now.”
Suddenly, the slapping of their luffing mainsail, deprived of its breeze, was eclipsed by an overwhelming rhythmic pulsing. Jonathan engaged the autopilot. It would hold the Esperanza steadier than any human could; especially since her humans did not feel steady at all. Despite the terror in their hearts, they rushed outside.
     “Shiiiiiit!” Sam hollered again as he gawked up at a wall of steel towering above them, obliterating the moon. Its passage seemed to last forever. There was only the faintest of light coming from the high bridge.
     Jonathan suddenly remembered that the ship had not identified herself during her last transmission. On top of it, not running any navigation lights at night was a definite no-no in any sailor’s book. “Bastard,” he breathed, and then remembered they themselves were running dark. As the moon re-emerged, he knew they would now be bounced around from the propeller wash.
     “Hold on!” he shouted.
     The radio in the wheelhouse crackled to life again. “God speed, sailors,” the voice said and then added, “Sorry about the wake.”
     “Bastard,” Bill echoed Jonathan’s sentiment.

* * *

Dramamine, Anyone?

Friday, March 20, 2015

I Think I Died

But I certainly did not go to Heaven. Instead, I seem to be stuck in book-purgatory where all those writers go who haven't made the best-seller lists. Lately, I haven't even been able to attract a single reader; nor a smidgen of reviewers of those four-thousand downloads of my free promotion of SIROCCO. What gives, people? Like it, hate it, just tell me already.

Naturally, I am depressed asking myself 'What's wrong with me?' Or maybe I should be asking 'What's wrong with my books,' instead?

Perhaps the fault lies in that I haven't thrown up another novel lately. I am working on Book 4 of my Legends of the Winged Scarab series. However, true to form, I needed to do a lot of research and kept nitpicking to achieve the perfect 'literary' feel .... "Ugh," you say? Well, in my book (pardon the pun), it is still required to produce the best erudite writing I can.

Then, the thought hit me: Perhaps, I haven't sprinkled in enough violence and raw sex. Talking about research. I am a happy hermit in a retirement community; so, what do you want of me? Memories of my long-past trials and tribulations? Wouldn't fit into that series (okay, you can always read Edward, Con Extraordinaire - FREE - and get a glimpse of an extraordinary encounter with a persuasive scoundrel). Other than that, I'll be damned if I'm going to tell all. Too deliciously private.

Now my quandary is: Do I stay dead - or am I to arise like Lazarus. After all, Easter is just around the corner...

"Okay, Borg, there is only one thing to reignite the interest of your readers. Let me quote Nora Roberts, 'Ass in Chair,' the one thing that produces books."

Got it. Back into the chair to finish Book 4 - Coming soon, provided said chair et al retain their springs.