James Hall on Writing Blackwater Sound


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Researching bigtime marlin fishing for Blackwater Sound was certainly a pleasure.  First I went to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico to attend a large marlin tournament and to get the feel for the kind of people involved in the sport.  During that trip I met one of the crew members of a very successful marlin fishing team.  Turns out he was a fan of my books, and he invited me to another tournament in the Marsh Harbor on Abaco.  On that trip I went out for one of the tournament fishing days aboard their marlin yacht and observed the workings of a very different type of fishing than I’d ever witnessed before.  Very scientific, very professional.

Later as the story began to unfold in my mind, I decided to use a bit of research I’d done a while back on the use of HERF weapons, a high energy radio frequency system that can knock out electrical grids.  Through a well-informed military expert I gained a good feel for what this weapon is capable of doing, and though it had the feel of science fiction, I decided to see if I could make it real and use it to play a crucial role in the novel.  So those two aspects, high tech weaponry and marlin fishing became fused in Blackwater Sound, and Thorn is dragged into the middle of it all.

I also used Blackwater Sound to bring together Alexandra and her father Lawton Collins with Thorn.  Alex and Lawton had been the main characters in an early novel Body Language and I liked them both so much I wanted Thorn to meet them.  Their relationship continues in the novel I’m currently working on, which will follow Forests of the Night.

Blackwater Sound was published around the same time as 9/11 and I used the experience of having published a novel that features a terrorist shoot down of a plane in a New York Times Op-Ed piece which appears below.

Blackwater Sound went on to win the Shamus Award for the best private eye novel of 2003.