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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Deep-sea commercial diver Michael Ganas spent four years writing a novel that combined his love of engineering and the sea, but ended up publishing it himself because he found it hard to get anyone else interested.
Ganas' debut novel, "The Girl Who Rode Dolphins" and which has won four awards, is set in Haiti where a former Navy Seal teams up with a marine biologist to find a ship that sank 21 years ago but ends up discovering a girl living with dolphins.
American Ganas, a professional engineer who served as a helicopter crew chief in the Vietnam War, said he began writing nearly 20 years ago with technical articles in trade magazines but had always dabbled with fiction.
His wife's battle with chronic myeloid leukemia inspired him to write a novel and dedicate it to her, while the leading female in his science-fiction adventure is based on his daughter.
Ganas spoke to Reuters about getting started in a tough industry:
Q: What got you writing?
A: "I have written a lot of articles over the years and been published in magazines but they mostly were technical. Writing was just a sideline. I wrote a little fiction that was printed in a magazine but I have always been an engineer and a diver."
Q: Why now for a novel?
A: "Writing the novel was done over a period of four years concurrent with my job. One of the primary reasons I wrote it was to honor my wife who has been battling leukemia for the past nine years. As I wrote the novel I would write a little bit and show it to her and she could not wait to read the next segment."
Q: Will you continue writing now you have started?
A: "There will be a sequel to it and other novels down the road. When I finally retire maybe I will write full-time."
Q: Did you set out to write such a long novel, 724 pages?
A: "No. The story was ad libbed from beginning to end. As I wrote this novel I kept envisaging what I would like to see on the big screen in a blockbuster movie. There are 22 action scenes in the book but it has layers as well, with philosophical view points. It is deep and not just an action adventure but the action is intense and it runs to 323,000 words. Most book publishers like a new author to stick to 100,000 words but I went way over that."
Q: Was that why you decided to self-publish?
A: "With most publishers, when you are an unknown, it is hard to get their attention so I self-published. Literary agents seem to be all clones of one another and don't see the forest for the trees. As the novel was advancing I was trying to get the attention of publishers and mainstream publishing houses ... but my impression is that if you are unpublished, you are unworthy in their eyes."
Q: Have the awards won you more attention?
A: "I'm not able to gauge if they have changed me in publishing eyes but it is gratifying as people are seeing something in my writing that the literary agents are not, probably because they are not reading the material."
Q: Any progress on the sequel and lessons from your debut?
A: "The next book will probably be called "Dolphin Riders." It is going to be a lot shorter than the first one, maybe 120,000 or 130,000 words. I will try to write the next one in maybe a year and a half. But when I go back and read my first book, I am very happy with how it came out. I am always going to look at the first novel as a masterpiece."
Q: When do you find time to write with a fulltime job?
A: "In the late evenings, maybe watching the news, I would have a pad in front of me for notes and when I had the time I would transfer it into a manuscript. At weekends I would write a lot. It was a goal and you could easily let that goal slip away but you have to stay focused. As I was nearing the end I could see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Editing by Miral Fahmy