Just add water…..
Guest Blog by J F Kirwan
I’d always wondered why there aren’t more thrillers with underwater action. After all, diving is a dangerous pastime. The training systems are very good these days, but still fatalities occur. I used to teach risk assessment, and to get people (non-divers) into it I would ask them to list ways you could die underwater while diving. ‘Shark!’ is usually first up, though in reality it’s far from the most likely. ‘Running out of air!’ ‘Getting trapped inside a wreck!’ ‘Going too deep!’ All valid. Now, add some villains, I say. ‘Spear-guns!’ I hear. After that, the list usually runs a little wild.
All thrillers need a sense of jeopardy. Many use the concept of a ticking clock, where the heroine is running out of time. Underwater, you are always slowly running out of air, because there’s a limited supply in the tank on your back. And if you are truly running out of air and you’re also down at depth, the imminent threat is one of drowning, perhaps alone, maybe never to be found. This is serious jeopardy that anyone can relate to, whether a diver or not.
All of the above are in my Nadia Laksheva series, though the shark attack only occurs in the second book. The first one, 66 Meters, is about a very deep dive, though obviously Navy and commercial divers – and these days many diving hobbyists who do ‘technical diving’ – can go deeper. But it’s still seriously deep, and with quite a lot of risk.
I’ve only dived that deep twice in more than 700 dives, and on one of those occasions I blacked out due to oxygen toxicity, which happens at around 66 Metres (218 feet) if you are diving on air, hence the title of the book. The blackout happened in Norway some years ago, and is described in one of the early chapters. I remember a pre-reviewer writing to me and saying that this chapter was particularly vivid. She asked me if it actually happened… Obviously I survived, but experiences like that are etched in your mind.
There are five other dive scenes in the book, including a heist from a ditched helicopter, getting nitrogen narcosis (drunk on nitrogen) inside a wreck, a spear-gun fight with Navy SEALs, and a rescue inside a collapsing wreck. But one of the strongest scenes happens when someone drowns. The reader is in that unfortunate person’s point of view when it happens. One of my dive buddies, after reading that chapter, wrote to me, saying. ‘I really felt “the fear” when reading it.’ Because all divers fear drowning.
Yet there is an abundance of beauty and wonder in diving, which is why we do it. As I’m writing this guest blog I’m sitting on a boat in the Red Sea, just off the coast of Marsa Alam in southern Egypt. I’ve spent nearly a week diving in fabulous coral gardens teeming with fish, seen the occasional white-tip reef shark, played with turtles, and chased a giant Manta ray for five minutes before it was swallowed by the depths. I love diving, it’s like flying, because you can soar as if weightless around tall pinnacles studded with coral and carpeted with small and medium-sized fish in a kaleidoscope of perfectly-matched colours. It is also great to be offline, in a non-tech world where you cannot even speak to each other let alone read emails, get phone calls, etc.
But you never forget that you are there as a tourist, on a limited air supply, and that you are underwater, which is a hostile environment for us land-lubbers. So, if you want to write a thriller with a difference, take one new weapon of mass destruction, mix in some Russian Mafia gangs and a rogue CIA spook, plus one hell of a kick-ass heroine, and then, just add water…
The only thing worth killing for is family.
Everyone said she had her father’s eyes. A killer’s eyes. Nadia knew that on the bitterly cold streets of Moscow, she could never escape her past – but in just a few days, she would finally be free.
Bound to work for Kadinsky for five years, she has one last mission to complete. Yet when she is instructed to capture The Rose, a military weapon shrouded in secrecy, Nadia finds herself trapped in a deadly game of global espionage.
And the only man she can trust is the one sent to spy on her…
Book One of Nadia Laksheva spy thriller series
Purchase from Amazon UK –
J. F. Kirwan is the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins. Having worked in accident investigation and prevention in nuclear, offshore oil and gas and aviation sectors, he uses his experience of how accidents initially build slowly, then race towards a climax, to plot his novels. An instructor in both scuba diving and martial arts, he travels extensively all over the world, and loves to set his novels in exotic locations. He is also an insomniac who writes in the dead of night. His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Andy McNab.
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