We all have anecdotes to tell of things that happened during dive trips. The aft deck of dive boats ring loud with divers competing to outdo each other with unusual experiences retold. Approached by a publisher to write a scuba diving edition of their Amazing Stories series, I was vain enough to think I was the man for the job. After a meeting with the book editor of the publisher, the reality dawned on me. They wanted sixty to seventy stories and I had a deadline of only six months. A moment of failure in my own self-belief ensued. Could I do it?
I got the deadline extended to nine months, sat down at my computer and steamed into the job. One month later, it was more or less done. It seems that twenty years traveling and diving full-time had furnished me with enough tales and all I had to do was to send copies of the stories as remembered by me to the actual combatants, for them to check the details and correct any misunderstandings or memory failures I might have had. I am pleased to say that with all but a couple of exceptions every person involved was more than helpful and I am indebted to a lot of people, all featured whether by name or anonymously in the book.
Those that were less helpful wanted to claim exclusive ownership of the particular event concerned, which of course is not possible. Even those that preferred to remain anonymous, for reasons that become apparent when their stories are told, in the main proved very co-operative.
I am commercially minded. I knew that nobody would want to read the autobiography of a nobody so I wrote the stories in third-person and although I was present, witnessed or was actually involved in most of them, I am not present in the book. It reads better that way. However, it does mean that I know that all the stories retold are true.
There are sixty-five of them in this first volume. Already I have thought of another thirty for a possible sequel, should this first project prove successful as far as the publishers are concerned. They cover things that happened in almost every part of the globe.
Well that was a couple of years ago and the publisher now tells me they only have a couple of dozen books left from the original print run in stock. It wasn't Harry Potter but it obviously sold very well in terms of diving books. As I travel around British dive centres in the UK and to dive sites abroad, I am amazed by the number of people who tell me they have bought it and enjoyed it.
It's sold well in North America too. The only person who was unhappy was someone, not mentioned by name in the book but who featured in an unflattering story. He bought a copy and posted it back to me after scrawling some unsavoury abuse in it. It obviously touched a nerve. If you hurry, you might be able to get your hands on one of the last copies of Amazing Diving Stories from the first print run. It's available at most big book shops or Amazon. Otherwise you'll have to wait until it's reprinted as a paperback.
Happy Diving - John Bantin