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Combining Writing and Scuba – That’s Taking a Plunge



In her latest article for, South Florida-based author Charlie Hudson offers some hints, tips and advice to anyone who has ever considered writing scuba diving-themed stories.

Charlie 4Setting yourself up for a second (or third!) career focused on personal satisfaction is a goal that many people share. In our case, it required several years of planning and preparation, one moderate trade-off and one major one. My husband and I did, however, make the appropriate arrangements to relocate to South Florida after his retirement from the Army where he now teaches scuba and I write. During my Army career, I did a fair amount of technical writing and when you roll that up with my love of scuba, it’s reflected in many of my books. The non-fiction book like Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the USA is an easy match to see, but I carry that over into my novels where plenty of characters are veterans and strong female characters take the lead. Police Detective Bev Henderson of Shades of Murder, Shades of Truth, and Shades of Gold, tends to be a bit rigid, while the spin-off female character of Chris Green, who becomes an underwater investigator in Deadly Doubloons, False Front, and Georgina’s Grief, is more complex – and a veteran to boot.

Charlie 6In actuality, most of my characters are composites of people that I’ve met, except for times when I have to create a genuinely bad person, and for that, true crime shows are incredibly useful for not only inspiring characters, but also for methodology of investigations and murders. Conversely, accidental deaths can be given a sinister twist as happened in Shades of Murder. I used an entry on a scuba forum that talked about the unusual circumstances that surrounded a freediver’s death. I began to think, “Hmm, how could that be made into something other than an accident?”, and the main idea for the plot emerged.

Charlie 2A lot of writers bless the Internet as an invaluable tool. The list of “My Favorites” on my computer can have an odd collection of sites at any time that corresponds to sources that I’ve been checking for scenes. I recently deleted the ones on Meth Labs, but have left the Meaning of Aura Colors, and naturally, the Yacht Broker site that I draw heavily from for the Chris Green series. Getting the scuba scenes right is one thing, but in order to properly describe a variety of different boats, I need the exact image and specifications from a reliable source. We all make our choices as to writing style, and my technical writing background drives my insistence on having accurate scenes when I am depicting certain things. As an example, when I wrote Small Town Lies and Small Town Haven (not scuba-related) I spent hours with ladies who quilt, learning about the craft, and more importantly, the passion for it. Even though I’ve always admired quilting and grew up around it, that isn’t the same and sitting down with quilters and watching/listening to them.

Charlie 5That is not to say that I don’t enjoy fantasy writing – it’s merely that if I am reading a novel that addresses a particular topic that I am familiar with, it’s annoying if there are errors in how a situation or characters are portrayed. My reaction in that way as a reader strongly influences the way that I develop plots, characters, and scenes. I don’t want my readers to think, “Huh, that doesn’t make sense,” even though they are reading a novel. Again, every writer makes a choice as to style, and mine relies heavily on believable characters and strong dialogue. A fan once said, “What I especially like about your characters is that I can see them and imagine being able to sit down with them.”

I have encountered criticisms from readers who don’t agree with a technique I describe, and in those cases, I do tend to go back and make sure that the source I used was correct. And on more than one occasion, whoever my particular subject matter expert is cautions me against overcomplicating a scene, and that is invariably good advice.

Charlie 3At other times, locating experts in a particular field brings unexpected fun.  One of the best examples of this is Rob and Robin Burr of Rob’s Gifted Rums with their wonderful website of  Considering the amount of time that the character of Chris Green spends in the islands, having her adopt estate rums as a preferred drink seemed like a good idea. Since my knowledge of the really good rums is limited, I found Rob’s site and it was perfect. Since I was using his site, I initiated an email exchange to verify that he didn’t mind me plucking recommendations and descriptions. Not only has a pleasant relationship resulted, so did attendance at the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival. It’s an annual event held in May and I highly recommend it for anyone who might be in the area.

Charlie 1There can also be amusing encounters with experts; One day, I was having lunch with a good friend who always wants to know what I’m working on. I was explaining about some advice that I had been given in trying to work out a particular murder scene. I was chatting along about the topic and she inclined her head to a table near ours that I hadn’t paid any attention to. There were four police officers in uniform and apparently they had become interested in our conversation.

The journey into commercial writing has definitely been filled with lessons for me and I try to share those lessons when other writes want to know about the intricacies of self-publishing. It’s the sort of advice that I wished I could have had early on when I set upon this path. I’m only an email away if you have questions ( My novels, non-fiction books, and a rich archive of short stories can be found at my website of or drop into Charlie’ Corner Café at, and I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @chudsonwrites.

Photo: Mario Vitalini

Charlie Hudson is the author of Deadly Doubloons, Islands in the Sand: An Introduction to Artificial Reefs in the US, and other dive-themed novels and non-fiction. She and her husband, Hugh, are both retired Army and live in South Florida where they pursue their “fun” second careers. You can see all of Charlie’s work and access her blog at

Miscellaneous Blogs

The BiG Scuba Podcast… with Rosemary Lunn



Ian and Gemma chat among themselves and are also are joined by well-known Dive Industry Professional Rosemary Lunn.

We talk about dive fitness and entering the CrossFit 2021 open games and being members of our local CrossFit Box. You can also listen to our new member of the team – Rosemary Lunn – answer some scuba diving questions.

Find out more about Rosemary at

Find more podcast episodes and information at the new  website and on most social platforms @thebigscuba 

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review: Erebus – The story of a ship (2019)



In a title of six words, Erebus: The story of a ship, Michael Palin tells us precisely what his book is all about. Through a comprehensive analysis of the Ship’s Logs and crew reports, personal letters, private and naval journals, books, papers and newspaper articles he documents the life of the ship and its crews. He traces their histories from the launch of the ship at Pembroke dock in 1826, via unremarkable Mediterranean patrols, lengthy voyages to Australia to bone chilling Antarctic and Arctic expeditions. They culminate in the last crew abandoning the ship, trapped in Arctic pack ice, in 1848.

However, Erebus: The story of a ship is more than a mere chronology of dates, actions and events. Michael Palin tells us a complex story. It’s an evolving story of the interpersonal relationships of those men serving on the ship; relationships that blossom and those that deteriorate. It includes accounts of influential men and women who shaped the voyages and crew selection. It also notes the impact of sponsors and suppliers who may have contributed to the final tragedy. It’s a story illustrated by Victorian photographs, other colour photographs and paintings, sonar images, maps and sketches. They all serve to provide a picture of the life and death of those on board HMS Erebus.

In 1846, during the heroic but ill-fated Franklin Expedition, HMS Erebus, her companion ship HMS Terror, captained by Francis Crozier, and a total of 129 men, “vanished off the face of the earth whilst trying to find a way through the Northwest Passage” (ppxii – xiii). This was the prized northern route to China and India via Arctic waters. HMS Erebus wasn’t seen again until one hundred and sixty-nine years later under thirty-six feet of Arctic water. Divers found the wreck remarkably intact as their description and photographs reveal.

Palin describes how the search for Erebus and her crew extended over decades – often suggesting missed opportunities as well as shocking findings. His summary account of the last desperate months and weeks of their survival, as the expedition disintegrated, is poignant in the extreme.

It’s tempting to describe the book as a slow burn that builds into an inferno – but words like ‘burn’ and ‘inferno’ are at odds with Palin’s descriptive account of the mind numbing cold of Arctic winters and a ship entombed in pack ice for years. Certainly, the pace of the early chapters appear relatively slow when compared to the final crescendo – but they provide an invaluable background to an understanding of the unfolding drama.

You don’t have to be a historian or a marine archaeologist, a sailor or traveller to marvel at the story of HMS Erebus and her crews. You don’t have to be a sentimentalist to read: ‘The one comfort from the whole unmitigated disaster was the news that bodies had been discovered far enough south to prove that Crozier had led his doomed men to the last link in the chain of marine connections that made up to Northwest Passage’ (p. 261).

Erebus: The story of a ship (2019)

  • By Michael Palin
  • London: Arrow Books        
  • ISBN 9781 784 758578     
  • 334 pp

Michael Palin has written and starred in numerous TV programmes; perhaps Monty Python is one of the most famous. He has made several acclaimed travel documentaries to the North and South Pole as well as the Sahara desert and the Himalayas. His books include Hemingway’s Chair (1998) and The Truth (2013). Between 2009 and 2012 he was President of the Royal Geographical Society. Michael Palin was knighted in 2019 and lives in London.

Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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