~ An Interview with Author Nicholas Harvey about his Cayman Islands-inspired novel, “Twelve Mile Bank”
We’re pleased to introduce you today to a new author, an old acquaintance of ours from the motorsport corner of our world. Back in 2006 we had the pleasure to meet race engineer, Nick Harvey, who we’ve since kept in touch with thanks to social media. While Nick currently works for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NASCAR series, he and his wife always manage to squeeze every last minute of life out of each and every day.
Following the pair on social media is an adventure, a life that we envy … you never quite know where they’ll be off to each weekend … they might be cycling, rock climbing, scuba diving, skiing or motorcycling through the mountains, so you can imagine our surprise when we learned that Nick recently authored a book! First of all, we had no idea he had literary aspirations, and secondly, with a full life like theirs, where did he ever find the time?
When we discovered his novel centers around the Cayman Islands and scuba diving, it all made sense, we’d drooled many times over their spectacular photos and videos on Facebook. With all of their amazing personal experiences in the Caymans we could only imagine how Nick’s book would bring it all to life. We couldn’t wait to grab a copy of his newly inked novel and jump on the opportunity to chat with him about “Twelve Mile Bank”.
As the story goes, it was Nick’s lovely wife Cheryl who got him hooked on Scuba way back in 2001 when they first visited Grand Cayman. While Nick admits to having been “very nervous of what lay beneath the waves” and “completely freaked out by the thought of going anywhere near a shipwreck” his fears quickly dissolved as the pair splashed into the clear blue waters off Seven Mile Beach for the first time. He was completely hooked by the “surreal realm of colorful coral reefs and beautiful fish”, and the two fell completely in love with the Caymans. From that point on, holidays were planned around diving … they couldn’t get enough.
The pair were certified in 2002, by the mid 2000’s they were Advanced, Rescue and Nitrox certified, and in 2011 Nick took the next step and became a PADI Divemaster. In 2017, with over 500 dives under their belts, Nick decided it was time for a different adventure. It’s said that writers should write about what they know and what they’re passionate about. That made it easy for him … his book had to be about diving and it had to be based in Cayman. Another passion of Nick’s is World War 2 history, especially the diesel submarines of the time, so Twelve Mile Bank is the point where these interests collide.
As a synopsis, the book is centered around a young female dive operator named AJ Bailey who’d grown up in England. As a child she’d been told a war-time story by her Grandfather about a German U-boat in the Caribbean Sea around Grand Cayman and how his patrol boat had pulled some of its crew from a life raft. The mysterious tale of the submarine had stayed secret for seventy years and now AJ is pitched in a battle against a wealthy Argentinian treasure hunter to uncover the truth of what happened on a stormy night in 1945. The story of Twelve Mile Bank weaves three timelines into an exciting adventure tale that takes place on the reefs and beautiful waters surrounding the Cayman Islands. The title aptly comes from one of the key locations where much of the action happens, an amazing dive that Nick and Cheryl did during the writing of his book.
We chatted with Nick to get the scoop about his new book and this new adventure…
TB: When did you first realize you wanted to write a book?
NH: I’ve actually dabbled in writing for probably twenty five years but it was always screenplays which are much shorter, the thought of writing a whole book seemed overwhelming. What finally tipped me over was a friend of mine, Paul Gerard, sent me his manuscript for a non-fiction book on race car driving technique and mental approach. I decided if a busy guy like Paul can make it happen then I have no excuse!
TB: Wow! That’s amazing Nick! Care to tell us a bit more about that? What kind of screenplays have you written and have any of them made it to production?
NH: I wrote a variety of different things from crime mystery to a baseball family story to shorts. I think there was some good content in there but probably nothing Hollywood worthy. It was a great training ground for me in story telling though and that’s where I feel my strength as a writer falls, in story telling.
TB: How long would you say the idea of Twelve Mile Bank was just an idea mulling around in your mind before you decided to develop it and put it to paper? What’s your process?
NH: Elements of the story had been coming together for a few years but it was last winter that it all started falling in place. Once I figured out the opening scene then I started writing. I honestly didn’t have a process, I’d never done it before and I’m not a huge fan of sticking to the rules. So the only research I did was on word count so I’d know what was acceptable for a novel. I started laying out scenes like I would a screenplay and quickly became terrified that I’d never have enough for a full book, maybe I’m writing a short story! But then the more I wrote the more the story seemed to flow and unravel in front of me which was a great feeling. The book was almost completely written as it now reads, there were only a few scenes that I went back and added or filled out later.
TB: Your life and work schedule are pretty full, how did you manage to find time for writing and how long did it take?
NH: From start to the moment I yelled to Cheryl, my ever patient wife, that I’d just finished the final page was around three months. I work for Chip Ganassi Racing and oversee their NASCAR Xfinity program, so we do thirty-three races a year from late February to the week before Thanksgiving. Basically with a handful of exceptions we race every weekend. To do that we spend a lot of time on aeroplanes and many, many nights in hotels. I would get up really early and write a page or two, then in the evening I’d try and do the same. On the plane I’d knock out a few more and then on Sundays (we race primarily on Saturdays) I’d shoot to get a few more done. The harder part quite honestly was the editing, being self-published all the re-reading and editing was up to us to do. This is where Cheryl was invaluable. She was the only person who knew I was writing and I’d hand her a fistful of pages after a trip and she’d hand them back a few days later with red pen all over where I had misspelled, used poor grammar or confused her in the story! No one, not even me, knows this book like she does!
TB: While your book is considered to be a work of fiction, I can’t help but wonder if any of it is based in realism … history (specifically the submarine and/or where it’s located? Or is the story that of your own imagination, or perhaps a combination of the two? Are any of the characters in the book an homage to people in your own life? I can’t help but think of Cheryl when I read the description of this strong willed dive-operator, AJ Bailey – is she loosely based on your lovely wife?
NH: Very astute of you! AJ is definitely a reflection of Cheryl which was honestly unconscious on my part. I wrote AJ as someone I would admire, find attractive and excited me. My best example of these traits is Cheryl so it’s no surprise it worked out that way. I’m obsessed with WW2 diesel submarines so one had to be in there. There are no submarine wrecks I’m aware of accessible in the Caribbean but we’ve dived the U-352 wreck off the North Carolina coast and it was a very moving experience. All the other dive sites described in the book, including the Twelve Mile Bank, are all real and we’ve dived every one. Beyond that there are a spattering of names I used from family and friends, Arthur was my Grandfathers name, Andreas is a wonderful German friend we both know and Lily was my Grandmother.
TB: Twelve Mile Bank was a riveting read in my opinion, I could barely put it down! I think it would make an amazing movie, do you have any aspirations to take it to the big screen?
NH: I’m a very visual person so to me the book is already a movie in my head. I may be biased but I think it would be a really interesting and stimulating movie. Being a lover of the big screen and someone that’s always found a wonderful escape in a movie theatre it would be a dream come true for Twelve Mile Bank to become one.
TB: Do you have plans for a sequel? Or will your next book be about something entirely different? Can you give us any insight as to what we should be watching for next from Nicholas Harvey?
NH: I think writing a book is a little like running a marathon, when you cross the line you feel exaltation and so much pain you swear you’ll never do that again. A few months later you recall the joy and the pain doesn’t seem so bad and you’re starting to plan your next race…! I have two stories that seem to want out of my head, the first is a sequel and the other is a little different, so I’m pretty sure one of them will start finding their way to paper in the New year!
TB: That’s awesome Nick! Thanks so much for chatting with us and giving us some insight into your literary journey and the story behind Twelve Mile Bank.
Grab Your Copy -> Purchase “Twelve Mile Bank” at Amazon.com – Click Here
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