Today's guest blog is by Martin Granger who has been making documentary films for thirty years. In that time he has won more than 100 international film awards. His work has ranged from directing BBC’s Horizon to producing a BAFTA nominated science series for Channel 4. His novels, although fiction, are based upon his exploits in the film industry.
Have you ever thought about who owns the oceans? It’s a pretty big question, two thirds of our planet is covered in them. So what is there to own you might ask. Take minerals, food and energy for starters. It’s estimated that energy from the oceans could replace eighteen million tonnes of oil and that their mineral content is worth billions. Most war and corporate crime is about territory and possession, so what will happen when people wake up to the fact that these resources are up for grabs? This is the question that set me writing “Oceans on Fire” a thriller where I began to think what would happen if governments and multinational turned to lawlessness at sea, the location for a new crime wave.
I used to ply my trade as a documentary film director. One commission was to make a television series on the resources of the seas. The schedule was crazy. A fourteen day trip around the world filming in five countries. Most of the time my cameraman and I had no idea what day it was let alone the time. We filmed on drilling ships at sea, ocean thermal energy plants in Hawaii and deep sea mining sites between specks of sand called coral atolls in the South Pacific. Getting the footage wasn’t too difficult but, because our travel agent forgot that we were crossing the dateline, our accommodation and travel was a nightmare. So I made my protagonist, Nathalie, take the same journey. Of course, her journey was fraught with more than botched travel arrangements, she had international corruption and sabotage to deal with.
The book also deals with The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or the catchy title UNCLOS for short. Sounds boring, is boring. Pages and pages of international agreements defining the rights of nations in their use of the oceans. Twenty years to write and still the United States haven’t ratified it. So where does this fit into a crime thriller? Well, to have crime you have to break the law, and UNCLOS is the nearest to the law of the ocean that you are going to get. So if my senator gets caught in a S&M sex scandal just before he’s going to agree to this law people are going to ask questions.
Oceans on Fire is not about cops and robbers. “We are a film company, we make films… we are not a detective agency Nathalie.” as her film producer points out. But it is about crime, the sort of crime that comes about when there are huge riches to be gained and governments and multinationals who can steal them from under our noses. It’s also about territory. Currently a nation with a coastline can claim two hundred nautical miles of the seabed and its natural resources from that coastline. Evidently here I must have had a premonition when one of my characters protests that someone is “claiming that we are an artificial island with territorial rights.” This was written months before the Chinese started constructing artificial islands in the ocean causing the scary headlines “US-China war over South China Sea?” For everyone’s sake, let’s hope that that’s one thriller that never gets written.
Oceans on Fire -
When Nathalie Thompson’s cameraman doesn’t show at the airport alarm bells start to ring. But, with a TV commission on the table and a job to do, she sets off across the world to make a documentary on ocean energy and its positive effects on climate change. As the camera rolls Nathalie’s worst nightmares slowly unfold; accidents happen, drilling rigs sink and marine structures are mysteriously damaged. At the same time a US senator, involved in a controversial new law concerning ownership of the seas, is caught in a sordid sex scandal. With rumours of bribery and corruption at every turn there’s more to her film footage than shale fracking and ocean engineering. In her quest to uncover the truth, Nathalie is in for a nasty surprise as she finds herself embroiled in a dangerous world of conspiracy, mayhem and sabotage.
Martin Granger’s OCEANS ON FIRE is published by Red Door, 25 June 2015. www.martingrangerbooks.com. He is also the author of MANILA HARBOUR, Red Door. You can also follow him @mgrangerbooks and find him on Facebook.