Sunday, 30 September 2012

This is the Captain of Your Ship...

I've been thinking a lot about Captain Nemo recently. My next book for Bloomsbury is called "Monster Odyssey: The Eye of Neptune" and a young Nemo is its main character.

During school visits, I've mentioned the good Captain when I'm asked what my next book is about. Most children associate the name Nemo with a certain clown fish. But give them a second and they begin to remember. Nemo has a brief appearance in the recent film Journey2 The Mysterious Island or at least his submarine The Nautilus does. Many of them have seen the 1950's Disney film adaptation of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on a Sunday afternoon and he does crop up in cartoons from time to time.

I read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a child and have to admit, I found it hard work. There are huge chunks of technical detail and Scientific speculation that just left me confused. Indeed, Verne did not write it for children and it was only really this country that decided to publish it for younger readers.

One thing that did shine out, though, was the Captain. He was such a mysterious character. A freedom fighter and a villain. A man who can sink battleships, drowning whole crews but who weeps over one death amongst his own men. A genius who has turned his back on the world and vowed never to set foot on land again, Nemo has great strength and stamina, he is an artist, a musician, a scientist and engineer. I've always imagined his education and what brought him to such a hatred of humanity.

Of course, Nemo is such a complex and interesting character that he has seeped into popular culture from film and animation through to graphic novels such as The Extraordinary League of Gentlemen. When Jules Verne wrote 20,000 Leagues, he based it on the most up to date scientific theories of the time and he was very meticulous. It was the Science Fiction of its time.

Which left me with two choices, either try to capture the Science Fiction element of the story which would require a modern retelling (think about it, a deisel sub would be 'cutting edge' two hundred years ago but not now) or to focus on the fantasy element included in the books: The city of Atlantis, giant squid, undersea caverns.

I've kind of fudged the issue by including the fantastical in the story but rooting the events in a real historical setting. (More about working out Nemo's date of birth another time).

And so, my next books begin to explore Nemo's development and progression towards freedom fighter, villain and genius against a backdrop of sea monsters, pirates and privateers, prototype submarines and lost worlds!

I can't wait!

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