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Local author sinks Antarctic cruise ship in new novel

Mild-mannered retired school teacher W. Dale Ogle caused a 2,000-foot tsunami that sunk a cruise ship near Antarctica and killed nearly 400 people. Read all about it in his new book “Tsunami: Beast of Antarctica.” Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
November 25, 2009 - Two things you can deduce about author W. Dale Ogle from reading his books – he loves danger and cold places.

Last week, the Oxford resident released his second book entitled "Tsunami: Beast of Antarctica."

"It's somewhat like the 'Poseidon Adventure,' but a lot different in that there's a lot more detail," said Ogle, who's first book "White Summit Pass," an adventure set in the Alaskan mountains, revolved around smuggled U.S. stinger missiles, an arms dealer and a beautiful professional killer.

Published by Wasteland Press in Shelbyville, Kentucky, the 199-page novel centers around a new cruise ship named Conquistador that gets slammed by a 2,000-foot-high tsunami while sailing a mile off the coast of Antarctica.

The ship is engulfed by the massive wave, rolls over and is left right-side-up, but sinking, 20 miles away from its original position.

"It literally strips it. It takes the bridge off, takes a big nightclub off the top deck, takes a huge restaurant with 150 people inside," Ogle said. "It gets pretty graphic. Imagine raging torrents of rivers rushing down the (ship's) halls. The carnage is going to be incredible."

Of the 396 people aboard the ship, only 14 survive the tsunami's devastating impact.

The survivors manage to find a zodiac inflatable lifeboat. But the catch is the boat is only supposed to hold eight people.

They manage to cram 12 people at a time inside the boat, with teams of two taking turns spending 10-minute intervals in the freezing ocean water.

Ogle's book chronicles not only the survivors' grim struggle to stay alive, but also the efforts to rescue them and the reactions of folks back home watching this tragedy unfold through the media.

The novel was illustrated by 2008 Oxford High School graduate Zach Kintz. He did the cover art and illustrations inside.

The mega-tsunami that hit Lituya Bay, Alaska on July 9, 1958 was the inspiration for Ogle's new novel.

An earthquake of 8.3 on the Richter Scale – although some sources say it was a 7.9 – shook loose an estimated 40 million cubic yards of dirt and glacier from a mountainside at the head of the bay.

The result was a tsunami wave that rose to a maximum height of 1,720 feet and wiped out everything on land over an area of approximately 4-5 square miles. The wave sent water as far as 3,600 feet inland.

Ogle's fictional tsunami was created in much the same way. An earthquake causes a "chunk" of ice 2 miles wide, 2 miles long and 7,000 feet deep to fall into the ocean.

"But intead of just slipping into the ocean like most do, this thing falls quickly at 70 miles an hour," he explained.

The impact creates a 2,000-foot-high tsunami that he refers to in the book as "The Beast."

Based on his research of the Lituya Bay tsunami, Ogle said his 2,000-foot wave "really could happen."

He tries to be as realistic as possible when writing his books that's why he travelled to Alaska for his first one and went on a cruise to Antarctica back in February.

He strives to create "fiction based on fact, not fiction."

Like he did with his first novel, Ogle's conducting book signings Dec. 26 at the Borders inside the Great Lakes Crossing mall and Jan. 23 at the Borders on Baldwin Road, outside the mall.

But he would also like to visit local schools and read passages to students. Given he spent 31 years as an English teacher and counselor for the Utica school district, that type of thing would be right up his alley.

Other than a few mild curse words, Ogle said his book would be a good read for young people.

"There's no sex. There's no drugs. There's no smoking. It's family-oriented," he explained.

Ogle's hoping his new book will be a success. He admitted his first book didn't do as well as he would have liked. He said it's hard for an author to succeed in the publishing world these days without celebrity name recognition.

"For me to sell a book, I've got to have a real winner," Ogle explained. "And I'll tell you something, I think this has the potential to be a real winner."

For more information about "Tsunami: Beast of Antarctica," please visit www.wastelandpress.net. The soft cover book sells for $14.95 and is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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