Today’s post comes to us from Polly Holyoke, author of The Neptune Project. Read on to discover what inspired Polly to write her undersea adventure, including her real-life encounters with some aquatic friends!
I always get caught up in my stories, but creating The Neptune Project was a special experience from the start. People often ask me how I came up with the idea of genetically altered teens fighting to survive in the sea. I’ve always cared about our environment and I’ve been a scuba diver for many years. It just seems logical to me that if we pollute our land and air too badly, someday we may have to colonize the vast oceans that cover most of our planet.
Although I did know what the world beneath the waves looks and sounds like, I didn’t know a great deal about genetics and oceanography. Because I love to learn new things, I dove (so to speak) right in to the research for The Neptune Project. I read dozens of books about marine biology and studied dive websites to learn what species my characters would encounter during their long and dangerous underwater journey from the Channel Islands to Canada.
I knew that dolphins would play an important role in my story, and researching them was great fun! Off the coast of the Big Island in Hawaii, I went snorkeling with a school of spinners, a small, graceful species of dolphin famous for making spectacular, spinning leaps out of the water. The spinners weren’t the least bit interested in me, but I’ll never forget watching hundreds of them swim through the sunlit sea happily squeaking and whistling to each other.
Even more amazing was the day my family and I went swimming with domesticated bottlenose dolphins in Florida. There beautiful Nicka and Bella towed me across their lagoon, which was way cool because they pulled me so much faster than I could possibly swim on my own. Then the trainers asked the dolphins to go “shopping” for us. Nicka and Bella dove beneath the surface and returned with presents. My daughter received a pretty little white shell from Nicka, and Bella brought me…a very slimy piece of sea grass! I still have that piece of sea grass, though, and that day the dolphins gave me an even greater gift. I used the idea of dolphins going “shopping” in Nere’s surprise birthday party scene when her dolphins go shopping for her presents and proud little Tisi brings her a baby octopus that spurts ink at her before it shoots away.
I’m currently revising The Neptune Challenge, the exciting sequel to The Neptune Project,which will continue the undersea adventures of Nere and her friends. I hope to have a chance to go diving in the Vancouver area next summer. I can’t wait to do more research and to see for myself some of the beautiful cloud sponges I describe in both books. Maybe I’ll even get to encounter orcas and Pacific white-sided dolphins in their natural habitat!
You can learn more about Polly Holyoke at her blog. Look for The Neptune Project in Reading Club flyers and online now!
book.box (bukboks) n. A cardboard receptacle, typically rectangular in shape
with lid, containing words, pictures, ideas and dreams, often
accompanied by excitement, anticipation and the love of reading.