I chose to set the Nautical Namaste series on a cruise ship because I liked the locked room aspect of the characters stuck on the ship together during the course of the mystery, and for the international ensemble aspect of it. Cruise ships have international crew and staff, and that mix and match is, to me, one of the more interesting aspects of having the mysteries set at sea.
Cruise ships are, basically, floating cities: shops, activities, restaurants, library, medical facilities, hotel-like facilities, resort facilities, fitness.
The passengers go to get away from their regular lives.
The staff and crew work around the clock to make it a good experience.
But what do staff members miss about living aboard the ship?
Early in the second book, Davy Jones Dharma (coming out later this year), Sophie mentions that she misses cooking. As the ship’s yoga instructor, she eats her meals in the crew dining room. She doesn’t actually have to cook for herself.
She didn’t even realize she’d miss it until she was on the ship for a few weeks.
As someone who enjoys cooking (and whose characters often enjoy cooking), that was a personal longing I understood.
Another thing Sophie misses is having a window in her living space. As a staff member, the cabin she shares with her roommate is below the water line. No windows. It makes her appreciate the wonderful windows in her yoga studio, and it part of the impetus for her to give moonlight yoga classes on deck at least once every voyage.
Even with her tight schedule and barely being in her room a few hours’ a night to sleep, the lack of natural light in her living space affects her. The longer she’s on the ship, the more it will affect her.
Those parts of her life weren’t planned when I outlined the book or created the development notes on the series. But they evolved as the books evolved. And they will continue to do so throughout the series. There will be times when certain parts of life that are missed will create or deepen the conflicts and the stakes around the plot of a particular book. There are times when the tension will ease up as the characters use their coping skills.
It will ebb and flow (pun intended).
I’ll be exploring that more in the series, and I’m sure Sophie, and other characters will find things they miss. Driving is something that comes to mind. On the few hours of shore leave they have here and there, they can rent a car. But that’s not the same as being able to jump in the car and drive somewhere on impulse.
What puts pressure on specific characters and how they respond under stress is something that intrigues me.