The Writings of Michael J. Bowler

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Odd Facts About Titanic Inspired My Book

Posted by Michael J Bowler on September 2, 2012 at 4:00 AM

            As a child growing up, I’d felt a strong connection to the Titanic disaster from the first moment I read about it, and I continually devoured every book published on the subject. I don’t quite know where that “pull” came from, but it was almost as if I’d been there in 1912 and in my own time simultaneously. As if somehow Iwas there that cold April night, even though such was impossible.

            That overlapping time feeling, coupled with a couple of odd facts about the sinking, planted the seed that grew into my novel. Fifteen minutes before Titanic took her final plunge into the sea, Captain Smith relieved the two wireless officers of duty, telling them there was nothing more they could do for the ship. These men had been frantically calling for help on the Marconi wireless and thus had missed all but one of the lifeboats. The two men, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, exited the wireless cabin, which was located very near the already submerged bow of the ship. At that point, there was only one collapsible lifeboat left,strapped down very close to the rapidly rising seawater, and some crewmen were struggling to float it off into the ocean before it could be pulled under.

            As would be expected, Bride rushed forward to assist, since that final boat would be his only hope for survival. But Phillips did something odd and counterintuitive –he turned and headed aft, towards the sloping rear of Titanic! Why? Why gotowards certain death when your salvation lay a few feet away? That anomalous behavior led me to create a reason for his choice, a fantastical reason, yes, but a reason that led eventually straight into A Matter of Time.

            There was another little known fact I glommed on to because I was always fascinated by everything supernatural. Titanic was carrying that night, in her cargo hold, the mummy of an Egyptian priestess, from the temple of Amon Ra. This mummy had already gained a reputation for being cursed – several of its owners had died mysteriously and photographs of the wrapped corpse displayed a living woman with glaring eyes. Even the photographer who’d taken these pictures died suddenly.There were so many mishaps and deaths associated with this mummy that the British museum finally sold the cursed object to an American buyer. The buyer packed it up, sarcophagus and all, for shipping to New York . . . aboard Titanic.

            Later, after the sinking, some of the more superstitious people out there attributed the collision and sinking to the mummy’s presence on board the ship – just another casualty of the same curse that had killed so many others. In my book, the sarcophagus, not the mummy, does play a major role in how events unspooled on April 15th, 1912, and in fact, does contribute to the circumstances which led to the collision. How? Read "A Matter of Time" to find out.


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