Saturday, October 2, 2010

FID: The Golden Gate Bridge/Sausalito/The Farallon Islands

“Flight into Darkness” was originally titled “The Golden Gate”. The title was changed when I decided that the story would be written as a sequel to “Flight to Paradise” and the 2nd book in the Flight Trilogy. The new title was perfect.

Note: Although titles of novels cannot be copyrighted, a 1976 bestselling thriller novel with the same title (“The Golden Gate” by Alistair MacLean) made the title change an even better idea.

Before the Bridge:

The Golden Gate Strait - Before the Bridge
Before the bridge, there was only the strait—the Golden Gate Strait. The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide.

On June 5, 1848, Army officer John C. Fremont submitted his "Geographical Memoir" to the U.S. Senate, where the San Francisco Bay entrance was called Chrysopylae (Golden Gate). He had in mind the Chrysoceras (Golden Horn) of Constantinople (later Istanbul), and suggested that the San Francisco Bay would be advantageous for commerce.

The Golden Gate Bridge:

Two Important Dates:
May 27, 1937
The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic. When writing about Pedestrian Day the next day, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Wills O’Brien wrote, “A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the lovely throat of San Francisco yesterday.”
May 28, 1937
Golden Gate Bridge opens to vehicular traffic at twelve o'clock noon, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House to announce the event to the world. The Bridge opened ahead of schedule and under budget. Eleven (11) construction workers died while working on the bridge.

The following seven-minute video might seem a bit boring and long to you, but when I watched it, it sent chills up my spine. You ask, “Why?” After living with this story and its characters for more than four years, for the first time, I saw what was in my villain’s mind. I saw the way he studied the bridge from every angle, confirming his deep convictions. In chapters 11-13 of the novel, the villain (Samael Janus) spends two days in Sausalito. This video is what he saw during those two days, as he studied the bridge, focusing his hate and revenge.

A scene in the James Bond film "A View to a Kill" features Roger Moore as Bond on one of the Golden Gate Bridge main cables, at a height of more than 700 feet above water. One of the more spectacular scenes is a fight between Bond and a villain on the north tower of the Bridge with the loser of the fight falling to his death from the main cable.

"A View To A Kill"
In the poem below, “The Mighty Task is Done”, there are a few subtle clues to my villain’s motive in "Flight into Darkness". If you like puzzles, pay attention to the text in bold and see if you can connect the dots from previous FID post.

The Mighty Task is Done

By Joseph P. Strauss, Chief Engineer
Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District

Written upon completion of the building of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all--the sea.

To north, the Redwood Empire's gates;
'To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne'er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.

Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.

An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.

High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life's restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.

What's on the other side? -- Sausalito:

Sausalito is a picturesque residential community (a city of little more than 2 square miles and less than 10,000 people) situated near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It has a reputation as a wealthy and artistic enclave and a popular tourist destination. 
Sausalito, California
In the novel, the villain and his assistant spend time in Sausalito as they finalize the plans for their mission.

They stay in the Hotel Sausalito, a sixteen room boutique hotel located in the heart of the town since 1915.
Hotel Sausalito
Built in Mission-Revival style, the hotel was widely reputed to have been a bordello. During Prohibition, located next to the docks, liquor from the trucks that rumbled past its doors for late night rendezvous assuredly found its way into the hotel parlor. Baby Face Nelson was rumored to be a regular guest. As the hotel closest to the waterfront, it was a haven for railroad workers, seafarers, writers, gangsters and passing travelers.

The Hotel Sausalito played a role in developing the city's reputation as an artists colony. The more openly permissive decades of the '60's and '70's saw people like writer Sterling Hayden taking up residence in the hotel. Keeping him company were assorted free-thinkers, artists and beatniks all seeking a more open environment than even San Francisco could offer.

At some point, it seems, every great hotel serves as the setting for a movie. In Hotel Sausalito's case, there were too many to record. "Serial" and "Partners in Crime" come to mind, along with the more current "Mother," with Debbie Reynolds and Albert Brooks.

The hotel has endured through a myriad of changes, both political and physical, to become the grand lady that she is today. After its extensive renovation in 1996, the Hotel Sausalito eagerly reopened its arms to old friends and new, ready to envelope new generations of travelers in the lap of its luxury.

The Farallon Islands:

Locaton of Farallon Islands
The Farallon Islands are a group of islands in the Gulf of the Farallones, approximately 27 miles off the coast of San Francisco. The islands were given the name “Farallones” which literally means “rocks out of the sea”. On a clear day the islands are visible from the mainland.

For purposes of the novel, I want to point to the seasonal and native inhabitants of the Farallon Islands and their surrounding waters: seabirds, seals, whales, sharks. Note: The Farallon Islands are the largest seabird breeding colony in the continental United States.

Susan Casey’s book: “The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America’s Great White Sharks”, was an interesting read about the Farallon Islands.

“…the Farallon Islands—"the spookiest, wildest place on Earth"—plunges readers into the thrills of shark watching.” “The islands are the only place on Earth where scientists can study the animals in their natural habitat.” Publishers Weekly

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