Guest Author: Rick Chesler: How whales influenced my fiction

Author: Rick Chesler

Since my debut novel (thriller Wired Kingdom) prominently features a whale, I decided to focus this post on whales. I’ll share a few of my personal experiences with them as well as what made me want to write about them in my book.

Allow me to begin by providing a brief description of the story:

When a blue whale tagged with a web-cam designed with stolen defense technology broadcasts a brutal murder at sea as part of a television nature program, Special Agent Tara Shores finds herself navigating an ocean of manipulation and deceit in a deadly race to reach the 100-ton creature roaming the Pacific before an unknown killer can destroy the digital evidence it carries.

You can view a book trailer for the novel here:

So, at its heart, Wired Kingdom is a whodunit murder mystery where a whale harbors a key piece of evidence in the case. In some early drafts of the story I even had the web-cam on different kinds of animals, such as a shark, but there was something about whales that just made the most sense.  They’re big, formidable animals if one needs to confront one, but they are also beautiful, majestic creatures that have come back from the brink of extinction after nearly being hunted from the Earth. Many people feel a certain empathy for them, a sentiment that figures prominently in the novel.

As someone with a degree in marine science, I have spent time formally studying whales and the environment in which they live. But reading about them alone doesn’t begin to do justice to these mysterious creatures. To truly appreciate them, one needs to see them in their natural environment, which I have been fortunate enough to do on several occasions throughout my life. Below I will share a few videos I’ve taken of whales in different parts of the world. This is a video of a humpback whale in Hawaii. I took this while on a whale watching boat called the Navatek, on the island of Oahu. Can you see the calf by her mother’s side? You can hear the screams of the excited passengers when the whale breaches, or jumps out of the water. No one is exactly sure why whales breach. It may be just for the fun of it, or perhaps to shake loose parasites. This clip shows a gray whale off Los Angeles, which I took from another whale watch out of Marina del Rey (where, incidentally, part of the story for Wired Kingdom is set). Grays are famous for their annual migration from Alaska to Mexico, where they give birth. This is a special clip, not for what you can see, but for what you can hear. My wife shot this when we were scuba diving on a shipwreck in Hawaii (yes, that’s me diving in the video). The sounds you can hear are the songs of humpback whales! We could hear them all around us throughout the dive, although we never saw one.

Note that I don’t have any blue whale shots—I haven’t been lucky enough to see one of those in the wild—yet—but that’s part of what made them so alluring to me, and so worthy of being a main character in Wired Kingdom. That, and the fact that they are the largest animals ever to have lived on our planet.

These types of whale encounters have been a source of inspiration for me as I wrote Wired Kingdom, and which helped me to inject a dose of realism into the story’s pages. I hope that this post has stirred your imagination enough to make you want to learn more about whales for yourself!

Thanks for reading.

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