Aircraft carrier on ocean

Embarking On an Aircraft Carrier…Or Into a Vortex

Twenty-six years ago this week I landed on a naval aircraft carrier in an undisclosed location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hours later, my aircraft was catapulted off in order to depart from the flight deck.

One of the more exhilarating experiences—and challenging due to seasickness—of my former career as an environmental lawyer for the Department of Defense, which in the 1990s meant the Department of the Navy.

Later, I would work for the Air Force and in many ways regret it. As a female lawyer, it was never easy, but when an organization of uniformed lawyers known as the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Corps hires civilians to work alongside the military, let’s just say things are not going to be equal.

It’s ironic, too, given how other branches of the military saw the Air Force as more like civilians. Jokes about them being overly interested in golf abounded, that sport being another theme of my novels, along with the pervasive issue of misogyny.

My protagonist Rowan Layne is not a fan of golf, nor of the patriarchy declaring human men superior to all beings.

Altogether Alien, book six of the Other Worldly series now in its final drafting stage, weaves personal moments from my past, including tidbits from those lawyer days working for the military. Unfortunately, this life experience was rife with sexism in all its vicious incantations. Not exactly exhilarating.

Remembering how it felt to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier—what amounts to a dime floating in the ocean—did come in handy to scribe what traveling in a flying saucer or other high-speed alien spacecraft might feel like.

That aircraft catapulting experience was akin to your face flying backwards without the rest of you, while stomach contents surge upward. I use that memory in Altogether Alien to also describe what it might be like to hurl through a vortex, otherwise known as a whole in space linking one place to another.

I didn’t have to make that part up either, because Einstein had a theory about black holes and vortexes, so I ran with it—all the way to a place called Sirius, otherwise known as the dog star. Actually, Rowan Layne didn’t run, but she might be swimming in tropical isles in the last few chapters.

For the first time, I’ve found myself saving a couple of months’ worth of activity and intrigue for the next book, as I just couldn’t fit it all in. Because another thing about each of my novels is they all have 83 (albeit short) chapters. There’s significance to that for Rowan Layne and her alien DNA.

This latest book presented a challenge because, having begun with a plan for Rowan travel to Hawaii, I’m finally getting her to the Big Island with less than ten chapters to go. The Kealakekua Valley on the Kona Coast, land of delish coffee and…that’s a secret for now. No spoilers or spilling of lava herein.

I’ve put Rowan Layne through so much in Altogether Alien that I myself am exhausted. Does anyone else feel that way when writing? Kind of like landing on an aircraft carrier. Or maybe it’s just part of aging—another prevalent subject in my books.

At least these days I don’t have to worry about age discrimination as a lawyer, but the judgments expressed on Twitter let you know it’s still swimming and swarming in those shark-infested waters.

Altogether Alien will be a whale of a tale. Fasten your seatbelts for warp speed into space. Because we won’t be traveling on an aircraft carrier, or any sort of aircraft as we’ve come to know them.

2 thoughts on “Embarking On an Aircraft Carrier…Or Into a Vortex”

    1. The unveiling in final chapters will be like the flow of lava… Did you know there’s an erupting volcano emoji? 🙂

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