What do most people know about whales beyond that fact that they’re big and wet? Not much, right? Well, having been a scuba diver for a long time, and lived next to the ocean for some twenty-five years, I thought, I really should learn more about these big wet things that keep swimming by. So I started learning about whales, and more important, the people whose business it is to learn about whales.
Something happens when you spend any amount of time on the ocean with people who have a less than conservative view of how one should make his living: you begin to feel that adventure is its own reward. You begin to measure experience, rather than sustenance, as the goal; and you begin to get a feeling for those adventurers you left behind in your childhood: those salty rapscallions sprung from the imaginations of Jack London and Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson — even the twisted eccentrics of Joseph Conrad and the ancient undersea beings of H.P. Lovecraft. (And you begin, too, to wish you’d brought along some Dramamine.) As a writer, you get it, the same way that you got it when you were a kid, and theres not much you can do but share the adventures.
So I got it, and I’m passing it on to you, that “fear recalled in comfort” that is called the adventure story.