Submarines (and more about the chooks)

March 30th, 2014

Some of you may know that parts of the second book in the Hidden series, Sunker’s Deep, are set on a tiny submersible called Claw. So a big part of writing it has been research, because I know Nothing At All about submarines and submersibles. Well – I didn’t when I started. Now I know a bit more.

But however much research a writer does about a subject, it’s still really important to get someone who actually KNOWS that subject to read the manuscript for mistakes. So that’s what I’ve been doing.

I can't remember where I found this picture, but it was one of the pics I used for inspiration while I was writing, as were the others, below.

First I had to find a submariner. I got in touch with the Australian Submariners’ Association, and they gave me a couple of names, one of whom was in Hobart. So by various devious means (i.e. through LinkedIn), I managed to find this bloke and asked him if he’d read the manuscript of Sunker for me. He emailed me back, saying that he’d be happy to offer technical advice – and by the way his daughter had read my earlier books! So that was handy.

USS Alligator was the first US Navy submarine, and was active during the American Civil War

Anyway, last Friday I met him at last. He’d already sent back the manuscript with comments on it, but there were things I wanted to clarify – and it made the HUGEST difference, having someone in front of me who I could question. ‘What does the captain say when he wants to dive?’ ‘How do the motors work?’ ‘What sounds can you hear when you’re under water?’ ‘How do you dive extra-quickly?’ etc etc.

Ictineo I was a pioneering wooden submarine constructed in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain in 1858–1859

‘If only,’ I said, at the end of it, ‘I had had you sitting next to me when I was writing this book! It would have made things much easier!’

Icteneo II was launched in 1864

And then, when we’d finished talking about Sunker, I asked him about his submarine experience, and why he’d gone into subs in the first place, and whether he’d liked it, and what sort of person became a submariner. It was all fascinating – and this is one of the unexpectedly good things about being an author. You get to meet really interesting people and ask them lots of questions.

You also, if you live in my house, get to meet some really interesting chooks. Poor Harry caught a mouse in the compost heap the other day. He was about to eat it when Floss snatched it out of his paws and raced off around the garden with Clara and Dolly in hot pursuit. Every now and again Floss would stop, drop the mouse, peck it to make sure it was dead (if nothing else, I’m sure it had died of sheer fright by that stage), then race off again when the other two chooks got too close. Apparently raw mouse is high on the list of things-chooks-love-to-eat.

The whole descended-from-dinosaurs thing is starting to make a lot more sense. Velociraptors, I reckon. πŸ™‚



0 thoughts on “Submarines (and more about the chooks)

  1. Io says:

    Ooooh! I like the third photo of a submarine. It looks small and fat like a…dwarf!

    1. Lian says:

      Yes, I agree, Io. I think those little wooden submarines are so beautiful.

  2. Io says:


  3. Lilli says:

    Dear Lian ,
    How is the writing going ?
    I hope you had a wonderful Easter and that the writers block isn’t too bad ! πŸ™‚
    Hope to hear from you soon !
    From Lilli !! X

    1. Lian says:

      Thanks Lilli, I have had a good Easter, playing in the garden with the chooks, mostly. They are very good company when I dig, bustling around me to see what I’m doing. Now I’m about to get stuck back into the second chapter of Sunker’s Deep, which has been giving me a lot of trouble. Hopefully I can sort it out in the next couple of days. This manuscript is due back at the publishers VERY SOON. Eeek!

    1. Lian says:

      Hi Gabi!

  4. gabi says:

    lian i like the 2nd picture because its long and very…nice

    1. Lian says:

      It’s kind of sleek and interesting, isn’t it.

  5. gabi says:

    io i didn’t know you going on the web

    1. Lian says:


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