I’ve been fortunate to have a career that has involved telling stories and working around the ocean. I’ve gotten to write about the things I’ve seen above and below the waves.
One of my goals when I started writing novels was to expose readers to the magic of the ocean. Coming from the recreational dive industry, I hoped divers would enjoy my books so I attempted to make the diving as realistic as possible.
But, I have written with nondivers in mind as well. I want those readers to be excited about my stories. I want some of them to decide to learn to scuba dive and explore the ocean. And I want everyone to learn a few things about the ocean itself.
Recently, I read an essay called Why We Need New Stories About the Ocean: Natalie Hart on the Urgency of Literature That Brings the Ocean into the Climate Story
One thing Hart discussed was the difference between literature about the climate versus the ocean. With climate-based stories, the reader is likely predisposed to have an interest in the overall topic. But with the ocean, it is typically just a setting for a love story, adventure story or even a story of personal reflection like a memoir.
“People can come to books that feature the sea, with no motivation to understand the ocean at all, but they can learn or feel something about the sea through the process of reading. And perhaps these people that we don’t normally reach are the most important of all.”
I don’t write science fiction, but I’ve always understood the genre as taking what is known and extrapolating it into the future. Think about concepts like Warp Speed and digital tablets from Star Trek or Isaac Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics.
With my books, there is always something readers can take away when it comes to oceans, water, the environment, or reef systems.
An example of that is the 10th novel in the Mike Scott series. It’s all about the shortage of fresh water and the international upheaval that causes.
Recently I saw a story that drought conditions and sea level rise had allowed more salt water intrusion into the Mississippi River causing problems for municipal water supply systems. So many things I extrapolated in Water Crisis are coming true and causing problems.
There are times, as a fiction writer, I question whether I am doing any good. I want to influence people to love and respect the ocean while being in awe of everything we don’t know about it. But it’s easy to get frustrated and wonder if anyone is listening.
And then I shake that feeling off and go back to writing. I continue to tell my fiction stories with truth as the background to help people learn whether they want to or not.