About the Author
Is this book about diving? Yes, but it’s also a lot more than that. It’s about what is like to be a diver in a world where our desire is dampened by the worries of everyday life.
I’ve read well over two dozen books about audacious souls defying the laws of physiology and physics as they venture into forbidding depths. Many of them were well written and I enjoyed them immensely. But I couldn’t find a story showing that under the glamorous gear, lies a spouse, parent, or child, a sensible being doubting his worth as a human and confronting the tests of life.
This book fills that gap. And yes, you’ll be regaled with succulent narratives of diving, succulent enough to make many of my non-diving readers consider the sport. Here’s your patience paying off. I try to capture the magic of being a regular human who finds escape and meaning in the addicting world of diving. A world that forges strong friendships and brings icons that reshape our lives.
Today we are talking to Holden Gerrig, author of “Saga of the Diver – Volume 1 – Skeletons”.
PBR: When did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t know if there’s a specific time as writing has always been an essential an enjoyable component of my life. I first started by publishing articles on health. My readers told me how much they enjoyed them and encouraged me to put my thoughts into books. To my surprise, they sold well and elicited strong reactions.
My venture into fiction came after a period of writer’s block. Week after week, I stared at a blank notepad, ever anxious until I addressed the urge to jot the outline for a story. Next thing, words were flowing again.
I immediately sought the guidance of experienced writers and editors to guide me in the immense world of fiction writing, and this turned out to be one of the most educational and enriching experiences of my life.
Have I always wanted to be an author? Yes, but it wasn’t until I concluded the novel that I understood I had truly become one.
PBR: Which authors and their works would you say are your literary inspirations?
The tales of Aesop and Homer’s classics were my childhood inspirations. Aesop featured powerful messages delivered in simplicity, and “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” fascinated me with the tales of interaction between mortals, deities, and demigods.
For more modern inspiration, I love the works of Robert Kurson (Shadow Divers, Pirate Hunters), Joe Simpson (Touching the Void, The Beckoning Silence, This Game of Ghosts), Sebastian Junger (War, The Perfect Storm), John Krakauer (Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, Three Cups of Deceit) and Stephen King (Misery, Pet Sematary, Cujo), as well as the works of Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa (The War of the End of the World, The City and the Dogs, The Feast of the Goat)
PBR: In your website (holdengerrig.com) you enigmatically state about yourself. Can you share more about your background?
My line of work demands mastery of anatomy and my reputation is that of a man of science who solves problems. Most people think is the only thing I do. But I also have a side where I nurture arts, and it’s my involvement in arts— writing, painting, music, and dancing—what allows me to see interactions that escape others.
Trying to explain that the cultivation of the arts is what eases my understanding of sciences and readies me for problem solving is a tiring task. My time and energy are better devoted to creating and finding solutions, that’s why I keep a low profile. I rather let results show that it is possible to excel in what seems opposite endeavors because in reality, they’re one and the same.
PBR: In the creation of your characters you state in your website, “The characters are not me, or you, or anyone you may know. Granted, all of them have had an initial inspiration from a real individual but they evolved to become their own entity.” Can you expand on what makes your characters unique?
Those not acquainted with character development think it’s a linear process based on a single individual whose name and physical characteristics have been changed. They also believe that characters are the writer’s alter egos or reflections of acquaintances. While that might’ve been true at the very beginning for “Saga of the Diver,” none of that exists in the final work.
To create the high stakes and the conflicts the characters are faced with, I had to extrapolate the conflicts of the hundreds of people I’ve met throughout my career and mingle them with new and familiar “what if” scenarios, making them quite relatable. Their frustrations, enjoyments, machinations, and fears are the same frustrations, enjoyments, machinations, and fears we’ve all experienced at one time or another.
As authors, we must learn to get out of the way of our characters, and that was one of the most valuable lessons I learned from Jim Thomsen, my editor, in the process of character development.
PBR: Paul and Jim, two of your main characters, have a common love for scuba diving. How did you come up with this particular sport?
There are three reasons. One, the ocean has always been part of my life. I grew up close to it and my earliest memories are of my father free-diving for crabs and scallops, and me watching him from the surface.
The first time I put on a mask, fins, and snorkel was a moment that forever changed my life. From that point on, I could never get enough of Jacques Cousteau, Sea Hunter, or any documentaries featuring legendary divers Ron and Valerie Taylor. Marine life and marine science books and magazines became my favorite and I spent hours countless hours on them.
In no other easily-reachable realm do you get to experience the freedom of weightlessness and the peace that washes the stresses of life away. In no other realm do you get to experience nature at its purest, or do you get to witness a moment of history frozen in time, wrecks where people fought for their survival as their vessels surrendered. You can’t help but come out of the water a calmer, more understanding, more peaceful person. It’s an experience that creates some of the deepest bonds I’ve ever encountered.
The second reason is that it fills a gap. The numerous diving adventures I read featured passionate divers who also happened to lead a barely-mentioned regular life. Considering that we spend most of our lives on the surface—and facing the perils that build us into who we are—I thought it was time to bring a story about two regular people who happen to love scuba diving.
The third reason was to share the freedom and peace I experience with scuba diving, what is like to be part of an activity that will never bore you because you’ll never stop learning and improving. I wanted to share what it means to belong to a community where you’ll never run out of fun stories among old friends and yet-to-be-made friends. Your life can only be calmer, more in tune with the world, and you’ll feel connected with yourself in a way you have not been connected before. All of this can be yours if you so desire.
PBR: Amid the lust and domination, you evoke compassion among your readers via the omniscient viewpoint when you reveal the troubled human aspects of your characters. Why did you choose to do that, especially with some of your devious characters?
Because we all have a reason for being. Whether molded by our environment or through instruction, we become who we are for one purpose—to protect our sense of self.
We are too quick to judge and give others linear attributes believing, for instance, that a devious person must have been born devious and thus, has no choice but to be evil. But even the professional literature is conflicted and vague in this aspect.
Life has taught me that many individuals catalogued as devious, were once good people who saw their survival (physical or identity) threatened, and as a result, developed behavioral patterns to ease their pain and give them a sense of control. Such patterns may seem innocuous to the affected person but may conflict with societal norms.
At the same time, many people recognized as good and righteous, were once the complete opposite. They had to overcome darkness, some of which remains buried deep within and could resurface unannounced to confront them and test the validity of their goodness.
In reality people are not just good and evil—they’re a lot more complex. Evil people can turn righteous under the right triggers and the same can be said of good people.
PBR: Out of a flurry of favorite diving sites around the world, you zero in on Puget Sound and Cozumel. What made you determine those particular sites?
While I consider the reefs of Cozumel to be among the best, there are a few characteristics that made Cozumel ideal for the story. It’s close enough to the U.S. Mainland to make it a suitable destination and it has an eclectic energy that contrasts well with the normalcy of Northwest life. I also have fond memories of the dive operation I used in Cozumel—some of the most professional, jocular, and down to earth people you could ever meet—who guided me in the magic that is Cozumel drift diving. Picture yourself at a depth of 100 feet, the current sweeping you between imposing coral formations and opening into a blue abyss where schools of sharks surround you. Truly mind blowing.
As to Puget Sound, it is s a fortune and privilege to have world-class diving right at our doorstep. You don’t even need a boat! Only a few yards from the shore is enough to immerse and encounter our rich variety of life. From gargantuan starfish, anemones, and the majestic Giant Pacific Octopus, to the miniscule crustaceans, nudibranchs, and lumpsuckers, there’s always plenty to discover. But what makes Puget Sound diving more remarkable is the Pacific Northwest diving community—one of the most educated, environmentally conscious, and highly trained group you’ll ever meet. Our local waters are truly beautiful and always there, ready to elate and deliver peace to anyone in our community.
PBR: The Diver – Skeletons is the first book in a three-part series entitled Saga of the Diver. While you are obviously busily working on the last two books, what do you foresee will be your next literary project?
I have a couple more projects—with the plots already outlined—that I will work on after finishing the trilogy of Saga of the Diver. One story is about the conflict of identity and exploration, and how this brings emotions that range from ecstasy to hate—for the self and the world. It’s a conflict where the pain of denial is greater than the pain of banishment. The other project is about how under the veil of fanaticism—which disguises hate as justice—a group perpetrates a crime against an everyday individual who they consider a defector. What they don’t know is that this seemingly ordinary person had ties to individuals who harbor secrets and extraordinary skills. They will have the perpetrators face their mistake in a conflict where the fanatics must choose between their salvation and their principles.
While those are the broad ideas of my upcoming projects, only the development of the work itself will determine the final story. It’s a valuable lesson I learned from writing Saga of The Diver.
PBR: Do you foresee yourself writing thrillers, or exploring other genres?
I didn’t know Saga of the Diver was evolving into a psychological thriller until Jim Thomsen pointed it out. Heading into that path eased the development of the plot and give its identity.
I only think of myself as a writer. I love writing stories—stories that captivate you, make you part of the conflict and get you thinking. Whether that is the basis for thrillers—or other genres—I leave that up to my editor.
PBR: Do you foresee yourself continuing to write for an adult audience, or exploring other audiences, such as young adult or teens?
I write as life teaches me. Up until not too recent, my interaction had been exclusively with grownups, providing me with ample perspective for grownup stories. But lately, I’ve been interacting with a much younger audience who, along with their energy and fresh perspective, bring a new set of experiences and emotions. Whether this has an impact in my future stories remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt I will never stop writing.
To learn more about “Saga of the Diver – Volume 1 – Skeletons” please read the review at: Read Review