Given the urban legend introduced at the end of the prologue, I knew this part of the book was going to be set on a deep water oil rig. In terms of media coverage, public interest, and horrible imagery, the Deepwater Horizon disaster is etched in a place in our cultural memory reserved for tragedies like 9/11. By referencing such a terrible event in the context of a rather silly story, I wanted to carefully avoid appearing to trivialize or mock in any way what happened on that awful day. I made a conscious decision to say something about the people on my fictional oil rig, to subtly remind readers that there was a human toll in the real-world events on which this scene was based. It was my way of acknowledging and honoring the lives lost on the Deepwater Horizon.
|The Deepwater Horizon mobile offshore drilling unit.|
As I researched the incident, I was frustrated to find many accounts of the explosion itself, of the massive oil leak, its effect on the ecosystem, the legal cases, and the financial settlements...but no information on the lives lost on the Deepwater Horizon. This fact made me redouble my efforts to learn about them. I was finally able to assemble this missing picture by searching local newspapers and obituaries. While I didn't model my fictional characters on the Deep Water Lemuria on anyone in particular, the panoply of personal details in the lives and circumstances of these real-world crew members provided insight into how to make my fictional characters more authentic—or archetypal, if you will—representations of those lost in this tragedy.
|Lots of media coverage on the explosion and spill, but not much about the people who lost their lives.|
It’s a tricky balancing act to reference a startling incident of such tremendous significance in our popular culture, yet to be respectful to the real human tragedy that occurred. I tried very hard. I hope I succeeded.
|Understanding the lives lost on the Deepwater Horizon was part of my process for |
comprehending the incident and treating it respectfully in my fictionalized oil rig scene.
PS—I note that IMDB lists a film in production for 2016 called Deepwater Horizon. Hopefully it will tell the world more about the human side of this incident.