As a child, I felt a strong connection to the Titanic disaster from the first moment I read about it, and then proceeded to devour every book published on the subject. I don’t quite know where that “pull” came from, but it was almost as if I’d been there in 1912 on that cold April night, even though such a thing would have been impossible. Or would it? Many people believe that after we die our souls transmigrate into others just being born. If each of us is unique with a distinctive soul all our own, how could this work? Maybe it’s what the Church refers to as Purgatory or Limbo – our souls are housed within other, distinctly unique people, until it’s our time to permanently move on. The distinctly unique person then feels an attachment to a past he or she was not a part of because of the other soul housed within. One character in A Matter of Time—Dan—takes offense at this notion when it’s postulated by the main character, Jamie. “I am not a bus stop,” he asserts indignantly. But what if we are? Could that explain why I, as a child, became obsessed with an event that happened decades before my birth? Or why I always felt an intense affinity for Native American culture? Was I at some time in the past also Native American? It’s a tantalizing concept and one I play with in A Matter of Time.
Some other “oddities” about Titanic and her fateful journey added fuel to my imagination and melded into the fanciful plot that became my story. Fifteen minutes before Titanic took her final plunge into the sea, Captain Smith relieved the two wireless officers of duty, telling them there was nothing more they could do. These men had been frantically calling for help on the Marconi wireless and had missed all but one of the lifeboats. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride exited the wireless cabin, which was located very near the already submerged bow of the ship. At that point, there was only one collapsible lifeboat left, strapped down very close to the rapidly rising seawater, and some crewmen were struggling to float it off into the ocean before it could be pulled under with the sinking ship.
As would be expected, Bride rushed forward to assist, since that final boat would be his only hope for survival. But Phillips did something odd and counterintuitive – he turned and headed aft, towards the sloping stern of Titanic! Why? Why go towards certain death when your salvation lay a few feet away? That anomalous behavior led me to create a reason for his choice, a fantastical reason, to be sure, but a reason that evolved into the basic plot of my book.
There was another little known fact I glommed on to because I was always fascinated by everything supernatural. Titanic was carrying that night, in her cargo hold, the mummy of an Egyptian priestess, from the temple of Amon Ra. This mummy had already gained a reputation for being cursed – several of its owners had died mysteriously and photographs of the wrapped corpse displayed a living woman with glaring eyes. Even the photographer who’d taken those pictures died suddenly. There were so many mishaps and deaths associated with this mummy that the British museum finally sold the cursed object to an American buyer. The buyer packed it up, sarcophagus and all, and shipped it off to New York—aboard Titanic.
Later, after the sinking, some of the more superstitious people of the day attributed the collision and sinking to the mummy’s presence on board the ship, another casualty of the same curse that had killed so many others. In my book, the sarcophagus, not the mummy, does play a major role in how events unspool on April 15th, 1912, and in fact, does contribute to the circumstances which lead to the collision. How? Well, that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say that the person using the sarcophagus previously inspired one of the evilest characters in literary history. To say more would ruin the voyage of discovery.
A Matter of Time is available as an eBook, an Audible download read by the super-talented Aaron Landon, and in paperback. Purchase on Amazon.