Whale Soup – the inspiration for the novel
In Hawaii in 2014, I went on a whale-watching trip on the island of Maui. Bright sun shone on an alluring patchwork of cobalt-blue sea and brownish-green hill reflections. We saw plenty of whales, but I didn’t get the photos I wanted. I had to go again.
The second trip started like the first, but halfway through, the weather turned sour. Clouds scudded over Maui Komohana, the sea swelled, and waves crashed over the full length of the small, Zodiac inflatable. Scary? Very, but also inspiring. I thought: What if it gets worse? What if someone falls in? The idea for Whale Soup was born.
I’d written three quarters of another novel, Nothing Ever Happens in Clacton. I shelved it. Whale Soup took over. I learned some essential truths about novel-writing: you don’t have to begin at the beginning; “What if…?” is a great question to start with; every “What if…?” is followed by another. I had clear ideas about three people on the boat, saw their backstories, worked on their characters. The plot evolved from there. Once I’d worked out the bulk of the story, my brain ran the action sequences like a film – I just watched and wrote what I saw. Abandoning normal sleep patterns, I splurged out the first draft in three months. The editing took seven more.
Humpback whales gave me some of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. They run like a leitmotif through the book, but less than ten per cent of the story is about whales. It is more a story about people whose lives are affected by them – their adventures, ambitions, passions, and secrets.
Praise for Whale Soup from both sides of the Atlantic – Amazon reviews:
“This story has it all: unique characters, unlikely plot twists, rich and varied settings, offbeat humor, and plenty of intrigue. I couldn’t help but love the camaraderie between Eddie and his pals – the way they’re always stumbling into trouble and sticking together to pull each other out. Then, as the odd professor and his wife come on the scene, there’s such a weird sense of foreboding that I was totally hooked.”
“The author has clearly travelled very widely and is obviously literate and interesting, so I expected good things. Whale Soup certainly lived up to my expectations.”
“A fast-moving page turner with an ingenious plot.”
“I loved this. I went on a journey visiting many places. The characters were bright and vibrant and took you with them. I fell in love with Eddie, the main character. I also had a soft spot for his friend Grizzy. The opening chapter hooked me and kept me wanting more. I didn’t see the twist at the end coming until it slapped me in the face.”
“What I liked most about this well-structured, fast-moving thriller is that it is full of unexpected twists and turns. Just as I thought that I had sussed out what direction the novel was going, the plot developed in a completely unpredictable way. The suspense is kept at a high level. For me this is the mark of a successful thriller. I simply couldn’t stop turning the pages.”