I would like to begin by reminding the reader that such awe inspiring creatures of the deep are not fictional.
In the last hundred years or so society has deemed any accounts of giant sea creatures beyond whales and sharks worthy only of scoffing. Sea serpents or anything akin are mere superstition, a fitting topic for tales and naught else.
Yet there is a chink in this armor of skepticism: fossils. Even those most adamant that no human eye has truthfully seen a “sea monster” will readily admit that there once were such beasts. A zeuglodon, for example, is a very large sea creature with a long body which would fit the general description of a sea serpent.
The sea creature I chose was the leviathan. I do not use the word as it has come to be used, any large sea creature but specifically a whale. I use it as the Bible uses it in Job 41: a fierce creature of the waters with scales so tight no air could get through, whose mouth could kindle coals. I don’t know which animal this might have been, or if it may be one for which we have not even found fossils. I supplemented my novel’s leviathan with the artist’s depiction of a kronosaurus found in David Peter’s Giants of Land, Sea & Air: Past and Present. I cannot say whether the Biblical description of a leviathan was talking about a kronosaurus or some other creature. I can affirm that the leviathan in Should Any Calamity Befall has a firm base in reality rather than being a mere figment of the author’s imagination.
What is a Leviathan Doing in Historical Fiction, Part II will address why I thought it fitting to include such a creature in a story set so recently as 1804.