For me, 2011 will be the year of the book, the year I became a published author. Okay, so there are a few asterisks to go along with that statement. I'm a self-published author, part of a nova of writing that has exploded onto the e-book scene. I publish mostly e-books, although I have ventured into the paperback trade. Even at 99 cents, I don't sell a ton of books, but I do sell some books every day. Small potatoes when compared to the big boys, for sure, but the pleasure of getting the thing done, of writing something that other people would actually read ... well, as they say, that's priceless.
I will soon be adding another book to my oeuvre, this time a novella set in 1863. The title is Requiem for Ahab. The story is based on a couple of references in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick to Ahab's child bride and to a young son born shortly before the events of Moby-Dick. My story focuses on the son, who loses a leg during the Civil War, an event that triggers a need to learn more about his long-forgotten father, a father who went mad as a consequence of his injury, a father whose madness cost him everything. One man holds the key to understanding his father's life and death. That man is the sole survivor of the sinking of the Pequod, a man known only as Ishmael.
Here's the opening paragraph: (Click here for a longer sample.)
I was not quite seven years old when my father died. His name was Ahab, and he was captain of the whaleship Pequod out of Nantucket. She was sunk off the Solomon Islands in March 1843 with all hands lost, save for one sailor who was picked up two days later by a sister whaleship—the Rachel, captained by Josiah Gardiner—that was searching for its own lost crewmen in yet another of the mishaps that made whaling a dangerous and often fatal enterprise. The Seamen’s Bethel in New Bedford never lacked for new names to be engraved on the markers that adorned its spare white walls … markers that would never see a graveyard, memorializing sailors who would never again see the land. My father’s name was not among them. Ahab was an outcast, this being the result of the unspoken sentiment of a whaling community that resented the loss of ship and sailors not in the normal course of a dangerous trade but rather because of one man’s madness … or so it was said. The only available facts were collected during a brief official inquiry into the loss of the Pequod, facts derived mainly from the testimony of the lone survivor, a sailor identified only by the name Ishmael.