Mixing genres doesn’t always work, but I couldn’t help but wonder what a vampire novel might unfold aboard a Cold War submarine. November 2014, look for the novel that smashes military thriller with vampire horror.
Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King, was my first book read for enjoyment as a fifteen year old. I loved the way the vampire crept into a small town and subverted its weakest members, the way Jerusalem’s Lot rotted from the bottom up. And when the pillars of the community dropped their veil of denial it was already too late for most. The heroes were people armed with imagination enough to believe the impossible and courage to face evil with a dangerous fascination.
I served on four submarines over my naval career of twenty-three years. A hundred and fifty men settle in between a nuclear reactor, missiles, torpedoes and drive out into the open ocean for months. Cabin fever and spiteful pranks aside, we always managed to come back to port satisfied we’d done our part to avert nuclear Armageddon.
Out at sea I often wondered how some of my favorite movies and books might play out on a submarine. Once I began my writing career it was merely a matter of time before Red Sounding became a reality. But some questions needed to be answered and some details nailed down.
The Soviet Union, America’s nemesis during the first half of my career offered an ideal setting for a crew driven to stay on task through the initial outbreak of unexplained deaths. As a fan of science fiction and history, the USSR made an obvious choice as a for-real dystopian society.
Able Archer ’83 added a much-needed piece to the puzzle. In my research I discovered a little known moment in history when the Moscow seriously considered America on the verge of launching an all-out war under the pretense of an international exercise. The USSR felt as clearly threatened as close to war as we did during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
So, war on the horizon, a vampire in the shadows, and nowhere to run-the thrill is on.