When the Titanic left Southampton on April 10, 1912, the world was fascinated with its size, the luxury, the symbol of prominence for the wealthy onboard, and the promise for the emigrants hoping for a better future in America. For the past 100 years since its sinking on April 15, 1912, the world has been consumed with how a ship deemed unsinkable sank, the artifacts at the bottom of the ocean, the stories of the people on board, and the history the ship held. In commemoration of this landmark anniversary, award-winning author Tricia Goyer has released By the Light of the Silvery Moon (Barbour Publishing/March 2012/ISBN 978-1-61626-551-9).
When the Titanic movie first came out in 1997, Goyer, like most of America, became fascinated with the tragedy. “The movie captured my attention. Yes, there was a love story, but the ship of dreams fascinated me even more. I checked out many books at the library and bought others on the Titanic. I didn’t think of writing a novel about it. Still, I carried a love inside for that amazing ship and its passengers,” says Goyer.
Around that same time, Goyer had been working on the idea for a novel centering on a contemporary retelling of the prodigal son. While the idea did not go farther than the prologue at the time, she kept the idea in the back of her mind. Fifteen years later, when her publisher approached her about the possibility of writing a book to mark the anniversary of the Titanic, Goyer was excited about the opportunity and realized that it was time to merge the two ideas together in a unique, faith-filled tale of love and reconciliation.
Goyer’s extensive research from books, documentaries and visiting a museum dedicated to the ship all contribute to making By the Light of the Silvery amazingly historically accurate. With her beautiful gift of storytelling, readers are sure to feel that they have been transported back 100 years to the fateful night that changed the lives of all onboard the “Ship of Dreams.”
An Interview with Trisha Goyer
Q: By the Light of the Silvery Moon is a fictional story taking place on the decks of the Titanic. How do you think this setting enhanced the story?
Every author tries to weave conflict into a story—it’s that conflict and tension that keep readers turning pages. Because the sinking of the Titanic is so well known, the tension is built in. As my character Amelia is being wooed by two men, the reader knows what’s coming—an iceberg is ahead!
Q: This novel has appropriate timing, releasing on the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. How heavily did you research the Titanic before writing By the Light of the Silvery Moon?
You should see my stack of books on the Titanic; it’s as tall as me! I’ve read through many books—not just recently but over the last fifteen years. I’ve watched many documentaries, too. I’ve been fascinated by the Titanic for a while, and I was excited about the opportunity to write this novel.
My whole family also visited the Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson, Missouri. It was amazing! They had a complete model of the Titanic, and numerous artifacts like life vests, watches, and purses. They had models of the staircase, the staterooms, and the decks. Each of us received boarding passes of actual passengers and we read about their lives as we went along. My passenger—a young mother—didn’t survive. Probably the most emotionally powerful element was a water tank that held water at the temperature of the frigid ocean so many people plunged into. I put my hand into it and after ten seconds it was aching. The museum brought to life what I’d been reading about.
Q: Did you take steps to ensure the story remained historically accurate or did you let your imagination run wild?
I worked hard to ensure the story remained historically accurate. All the time is true—when the ship launched, when they reached France and Ireland, when they set out in the open ocean, when the first ice was spotted, when the lifeboats were launched, etc. I researched the layout and decorations of the ship. I even made sure things like what they ate and the musical entertainment were correct. I included real passengers within my story, too.
My creativity came in with my primary characters. There was no Amelia Gladstone or Damian and Quentin Walpole on the Titanic. They are purely figments of my imagination.
Q: By the Light of the Silvery Moon parallels the story of the prodigal son from the Bible. How is this story different than the Biblical version?
This story is different because it’s set on the Titanic for starters! I did try to keep the heart of the prodigal son story—the emotions of the brothers and the love of the father especially. While the Bible doesn’t describe if the brothers ever reconciled, there is some level of reconciliation in my novel—but I don’t want to give too much away!
Q: How is By the Light of the Silvery Moon different from other novels you’ve written?
This is the first novel I’ve written about an event so widely known. There are THOUSANDS of books written on the Titanic. I am certain that experts can find little things I may not have researched enough. . .like the correct size of the linen napkins or things like that. As I wrote, there were those doubts and worries if Titanic die‐hard fans would enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed it, but in the end I had peace. I love the story, and I loved bringing the prodigal son story to life. Yes, there is room for one more story about the Titanic—especially when it can highlight the love of God.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from By the Light of the Silvery Moon?
I hope they’ll understand more about the Titanic. As with all my novels I believe that bringing history to life honors those from the past.
I also hope their understanding of God’s love and forgiveness and open arms will grow, too. As someone who didn’t grow up having a relationship with my father, the love of my heavenly father can be hard for me to grasp. For readers who have the same experience, I hope they’ll take away a deeper understanding of God’s undying love.