This is 2012, and in April, it will be one hundred years since the RMS Titanic set off on her maiden voyage to New York. We all know how it ended.
People like to celebrate centennial events, but in this case, the word celebrate is sadly inappropriate. This event is commemorated, rather than celebrated.
It seems that everywhere I look, there’s an article about another centennial Titanic event. I knew this would happen. People are fascinated with the ship, and the people who sailed on her. It does speak to our penchant for the macabre, but it also stirs our empathy. People feel for those who went through the tragedy. We want to acknowledge them.
People do this in many different ways. Some are fascinated with the ship herself – with the technology, the engineering, the construction. Some are drawn to the details of the tragedy, the timeline and the questions – who knew what, when? Who did or said what, exactly? Who prevaricated, who exaggerated, who told the truth, during the inquiries that followed?
Some are interested in the physics of the disaster – how does one iceberg sink a 46,000 ton iron vessel? Others look for conspiracies – what was Captain Lord doing all night on the Californian?
Above all, people are drawn to the people – for we can imagine that everyone boarded Titanic in great hope and high spirits. The rich were certain to be feted and entertained, the poor looked for new lives in a new world. The crew was capable and happy to win a berth on such a great ship. The builders were proud of their achievement, and determined to make her as perfect as humanly possible.
And we – looking back – cannot forget. A great many of us turn to fiction to express what we feel. There have been many movies. A Broadway musical. Novels. Children’s stories.
This year – 2012 – there are cruises to the site of the sinking, where memorial services are planned. There is a new business area in Belfast, Northern Ireland – the Titanic Quarter – built in the area where Titanic herself was built. James Cameron remade his own movie as a 3D film and is re-releasing it. A marine company is offering submarine dives to the actual wreck. The BBC is planning a special.
And I have a book.
Not quite as grand as some of the other things, I nevertheless offer it to you as my own attempt to make something good from sorrow. It is a novel. I made it up. But I made it up based on historical facts and events and personalities. It is my attempt to show you the life of one of her builders – the designer Thomas Andrews, a well-loved, intelligent, and happy gentleman of Ireland.
A man who loved life, and who loved others from an honest Christian heart, and from simple humanity. A man – still in his prime – who of all those who died that night, died heartbroken that his greatest gift to the world brought so many to their deaths.
The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder is my attempt to give Thomas Andrews a second chance.
From now through April, I’ll be putting out some of my own commemorative events on this blog:
Journal entries – snippets from the time travel journals of my three principal characters: Thomas Andrews, Casey Wilson Andrews, and Sam Altair. These journal entries will take the form of “this day in history” excerpts, as I show what they might have written in their journals on that particular day in 1912.
Book sales and contests – chances to win copies of the book, or to buy at a reduced price.
A blog tour – probably in March.
Posts from YOU – send me your own thoughts or stories about Titanic and I’ll feature these on the blog. You can contact me through this link or over on the Contact page.
In April, I will be sailing on the Titanic Memorial Cruise, to participate in the service at the site of Titanic’s sinking. The BBC will be along as well, and I’ve been talking to the reporter, as have several others. No promises – but there might be something in their story about the book.
While I’m on the cruise, I will post as often as possible, with pictures and stories about what we’re doing. Before the cruise, I’ll be touring the shipyards in Belfast, as well as Dunallon, Thomas Andrews’ own house. You can bet I’ll talk about that!
Also in April, I’m a featured author at Robin Yaklin’s Debut Author blog. I hope to have a video or Skype interview with her for that time, as well as current posts about the cruise. The month will end with a Q&A over at her blog.
Whew! And I haven’t forgotten I’ve got keep writing in Bridgebuilders, too. It’s going to be a whirlwind year.
Hope you stay with me for all of it. We have a lot to do!