I’ve been fascinated by mysterious places, mythical kingdoms, and ancient civilizations, as long as I can remember. In my bedroom at night, I’d love to read about strange, fabled places such as Avalon, Middle Earth, and Atlantis. So, it was no wonder that Atlantis was on my mind long before Dateline: Atlantis became a novel published by Fiction Studio Books (e-book, April 2, paperback, April 16).
Atlantis was just one of many fascinating ideas to me until I read a book about Edgar Cayce, the American psychic who predicted world events and prescribed health treatments for clients—all while he was asleep in a trance. One of the things Cayce came back to repeatedly was that many of his clients had past lives in Atlantis. Then he predicted that Atlantis would start rising again, possibly in 1968 or 1969. Two pilots who were followers of Cayce discovered in a flyover of the Bahamas a rectangular building that looked to be of ancient construction. Was it a sign?
I never knew much about Cayce before, but this info about Atlantis—a world of near perfection that tragically sank into the sea—was intriguing. I began to read just about anything I could about the lost continent.
Plato, the Greek philosopher, was the first person to popularize the story of Atlantis. In approximately 355 B.C., he wrote in Timaeus the “facts” about Atlantis: its size, the fact that it sat outside the “Pillars of Hercules” (the Rock of Gibraltar and the opposite shore in Africa), that it sat between Europe and the “opposite continent” (which everyone reads as America), and what kind of animals and plants filled the island. He went on to further the argument, which he said he learned from the Egyptians, in Critias.
You’d think that because Plato was the writer to bring Atlantis to the attention of the civilized world, most Atlantologists (not a made-up word, I kid you not) would defer to his descriptions. Oh no. I’d say a good half of the many who churn out books on Atlantis are busy trying to prove Plato as wrong, confused, or mixed up. This only got me more interested.
One group has decided that the Mediterranean island of Thera (also called Santorini), which blew up along with its major volcano, was the real Atlantis. Never mind the Pillars of Hercules (Plato’s detractors say they were “movable”) or the fact that Thera was 1,000 years out of Plato’s time frame. The Thera theory has been disproved over and over again, yet it still comes up.
Then there is the group that is convinced Atlantis is in Antarctica. Rand Flem-Ath, co-author with Rose Flem-Ath of When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis, has done some interesting research on the theory that the earth’s outer “skin” can slip and move like a “loose orange peel.” Thus, Atlantis slipped to the bottom of the earth. Sorry, not buying it.
One pair, Ivar Zapp and George Erikson, have a really fertile imagination. They wrote Atlantis in America, which posits that Americans are living in Atlantis right now. They did hear that Atlantis sunk, didn’t they?
Probably the best book out there is Gateway to Atlantis by Andrew Collins. He does an excellent recap of the history of Atlantean theories, plus he tells about the finds he has made in Cuba.
One thing that kept me going in my intellectual search for Atlantis was trying to separate the sane writers from the wacko brains. (I realize that my own interest in Atlantis may make me look like a loon to some people.) When going online to search out websites and e-mail groups, I found even more strange agents to deal with. Fortunately, I discovered a good group called “Halls of Atlantis” that is headed by Paul Bader, a sensible guy who keeps the weirdos in check. Posters there include Drs. Gregg and Lora Little, investigators and divers who have found amazing things near the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. They have published books and videos of underwater foundations of buildings docking areas for boats, anchors of ancient design, and even leveling stones under the paving blocks of the fabled Bimini Road, a site near the Bahamas that believers and traditionalists have fought about for years. There can be no way the leveling stones were created by nature.
It was pure serendipity when my husband and I took a winter trip to the Bahamas and wound up at a hotel right next door to the Atlantis resort. There was no one blocking the door there, so we went inside and looked at their Atlantis “museum” and their Atlantis-style decor. Unfortunately, there was nothing factual to learn there, and no boat trips to the Bimini Road, but it did keep the magical feeling of the lost world in my head.
Finally, I sat down and decided this all had to come out in a story. My head was stuffed with so many facts I needed to decompress, so I sketched out a rudimentary plot and started writing about a journalist on a press trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, who swims far from her group and discovers some ancient caves. From there, she meets a Mexican tour guide who tells her he will show her what’s beyond the caves. There she sees her first antediluvian pyramids. Plus, she also plucks a orb from the top of one pyramid and finds that it has the power to communicate with her.
I made the protagonist a journalist, because I was a reporter for many years. I know how journalists think—and Amaryllis, my character, is as skeptical as the best newsperson out there. Also, I thought that a journalist would be the best person to find a bombshell like ancient underwater buildings. The average Joe or Jo wouldn’t know where to go to be believed with such powerful evidence.
First my Atlantis tale was a short story. Then after getting comments from other writers, I changed parts and decided to make it the first chapter of a novel. By then Dateline: Atlantis was unstoppable.
After working in a cold case of murder (Amaryllis’ parents), dodging some wicked bad guys who want to shut down Amaryllis’ investigation, and enjoying a sizzling romance that has her trapped between an exotic Mexican man and literally the boy next door, Amaryllis hardly has time to breathe. But she does decide whether she’s found Atlantis—with plenty of help from the dazzling orb. Now it’s up to the readers to decide what they think about the lost continent.