Happy Wednesday and welcome to my stop on the The Deep blog tour!! I am so excited to be a part of this tour, and I’m even more excited for you to discover Alma’s favorite moments from her book, what inspired her to write this book, and some fun research that didn’t make it into the book! Plus, follow the rest of the tour and enter to win a print copy of The Deep!
The Deep by Alma Katsu
on March 10, 2020
Genres: Adult, Historical Fiction
Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.
This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner's illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers - including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher - are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.
Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not - could not - have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . . Brilliantly combining fact and fiction, the historical and the horrific, The Deep reveals a chilling truth in an unputdownable narrative full of unnerving moments and with a growing, inexorable sense of foreboding.
Do you have a favorite scene, quote, or moment from The Deep?
It’s hard to choose! The entire book was so much fun to write because it covered so much ground: the trials of the first- and third-class passengers and the crew, and their backstories: what drove them to be on the Titanic, at that moment in time? Plus the Britannic: England at war, what it was like for those nurses trying to tend to the terribly wounded.
One of my favorite scenes has to be the first appearance of Dai Bowen, one of the main characters, a good-hearted boxer from Wales. He always tries to do the right thing, but has the misinformation of being saddled with a partner who’s a grifter. Dai’s scenes were such a pleasure to write!
If Annie, Benjamin, Mark, and Madeline were to hang out with other characters, who would they be and why?
I think all the main characters would’ve enjoyed getting to meet some of the crew. Like I said above, after reading all the bios, it seemed like everyone on the ship had led an amazing life and the members of the crew were no exception. I think even Benjamin Guggenheim, one of the leading industrialists of the day, could have learned something from the ship’s firemen (the men who shovelled coal into the furnaces and kept the boilers going to power the engines).
What was your favorite piece of research you ended up not using?
It seemed that everyone who had been on the Titanic, whether passenger or crew, was completely fascinating! Any one of them would have made a great character in the story, but it would have been impossible, of course, to use them all. I encourage those who are interested in the Titanic to read the bios on Encyclopedia Titanica. It has a great database on all the passengers and crew.
What inspired you to write this story?
I got the initial idea when I saw my husband was watching a documentary on the Britannic, made during the first dive to the wreck since the Cousteau expedition in 1975. I’d never heard that the Titanic had a sister ship, let alone that it had also sank, but I really took notice when I heard there was a woman who had survived both sinkings. I knew there had to be a story in there!
Inspiration definitely came from the era itself. It was a very glamourous time, but the world was on the verge of dramatic change. Europe was descending into war. Women were fighting for their rights: the ability to earn a livelihood, to vote, to own property. A small number of people held most of the wealth, while most people had to struggle to put a roof over their heads and food on their plates.
What would you do if you spent the day with Annie, Mark, Madeleine, and Benjamin? Where would you go to eat, hang out, relax, etc.??
That’s an interesting assortment of characters! In addition to two of the main—but fictional characters in the book, you have Maddie Astor, who was really interesting to me. I enjoyed imagining what she was like, born and groomed to be the wife of a rich man, then to marry the richest man in America (and 30 years her senior) at eighteen! And then you have Benjamin Guggenheim, who is in his late 40s, has accomplished much in his life but also has his regrets. It might be hard to come up with activities that they would all want to do… Maybe a croquet game to start, or a tour through New York City to see what it’s like today!
What can you tell us about your characters that we may not find out in the book?
I try very hard not to write clichéd characters but to really unpack their true motivations, hopes and fears. Hopefully that comes through in the story, and readers will feel the characters are real to them—as real to them as they are to me.
Alma Katsu is the author of The Hunger, a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party with a horror twist. The Hunger made NPR’s list of the 100 Best Horror Stories, was named one of the best novels of 2018 by the Observer, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books (and more), and was nominated for a Stoker and Locus Award for best horror novel.
The Taker, her debut novel, has been compared to the early works of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for combining historical, the supernatural, and fantasy into one story. The Taker was named a Top Ten Debut Novel of 2011 by Booklist, was nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award, and has been published in over 10 languages. It is the first in an award-winning trilogy that includes The Reckoning and The Descent.
Ms. Katsu lives outside of Washington DC with her husband, musician Bruce Katsu. In addition to her novels, she has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly, and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Program and Brandeis University, where she studied with novelist John Irving. She also is an alumni of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers.
Prior to publication of her first novel, Ms. Katsu had a long career in intelligence, working for several US agencies and a think tank. She currently is a consultant on emerging technologies. Additional information can be found on Wikipedia and in this interview with Ozy.com.