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The KRAKEN meets Cryptomundo
by Richard Reagan with Max Hawthorne
April 1, 2016
Max Hawthorne’s “Kronos Rising” novel about a monster pliosaur wreaking havoc on a small Florida coastal town in modern times has been a marvelous hit with readers. Now, two years later, a sequel entitled “Kraken” is on the horizon, so we caught up with Max for more information.
Q: Hello, Max. When KR ended, Paradise Cove lay in ruins, the giant pliosaur (as well as the major human villains) had been vanquished, and the main protagonists, Jake Braddock and Amara Takagi were in love. Does the new novel pick up directly where KR left off or has some time passed in between, with any significant developments having taken place?
A: Hi Rich. Actually, in order to keep the story fresh and innovative, a number of years have passed since book one. Without getting into some serious spoilers, I can tell you that the hatchling Kronosaurus imperators from Kronos Rising’s epilogue have matured and had a serious impact on the world’s oceans. It’s a whole new ball game, and I reveled in being able to spread my wings (or fins) for book two in the series.
Q: I have heard that “Kraken” is being released in two parts. Why is this? KR was around 600 pages. Is there some kind of cliffhanger in between the two parts for dramatic effect?
A: I had so much material put aside for Kronos Rising: Kraken that the scope of the project just grew and grew. I liken it to the movies “Alien” and “Aliens.” I found myself creating an entirely new (and highly dangerous) world – one that had been irrevocably altered by the presence of these deadly marine reptiles. Unfortunately, however, as the story expanded so did my page count. And when I told my publisher we’d be looking at an 1,100+ page book he started trying on adult diapers. As a result, Kraken is being released in two parts. Each will be around the same size as KR (approx. 194,000 words) and the story will continue from the first book to the second. In terms of cliffhangers, well . . . time will tell.
Q: The title “Kraken” obviously evokes the image of a cephalopod sea monster such as Architeuthis or the hypothetical ichthyosaur-eating Triassic monster that was in the news a few years back. Is something along these lines what we can look forward to as a new element brought into the continuing story or is there a surprise involving wordplay here? After all, the original Kraken was an amorphous mythical sea monster that only later became associated with cephalopods in historical times.
A: There’s no “wordplay” in my book. That would be a tease and a disappointment to my monster-hungry fans, and I have no intentions of letting them down. There is a creature (or creatures) in the books that will certainly earn its name. As my readers know, I like to draw upon known sightings and/or the fossil record when it comes to the inspiration for my beasts. You want to strive for as much realism and believability as possible in your story. You have to; it’s that suspension of disbelief that ultimately brings it home for the reader. That said, there have been many “Krakens” over the years, both in literature and (most notably) in films. What I strive to do is to give mine a uniqueness that makes it stand head (and tentacles) above the rest. Cthulu-willing, I’ll succeed.
Q: As you are well aware, there is a certain giant prehistoric shark that is very popular with readers of sea monster fiction. There has been a lot of talk on social media that this animal may come up against one of your monster pliosaurs. Can you confirm whether we can expect to see this in one of the books in the KR series? And, if so, with all the exposure said shark has had in books, videos, and made-for-TV movies, how will you get yours to stand out from the crowd?
A: Obviously you’re referring to the ever-popular Megalodon shark, Rich. And, yes, I was asked from day one whether one of them would end up in my next book. It seems readers are dying to know which monster is the ultimate marine predator – a clash of titans, so to speak. I’ve hinted at it a few times on social media, so yes, there is one (or more) Carcharodon megalodon sharks in Kronos Rising: Kraken. In terms of differentiating my fish from the known versions, I based mine on my studies and personal theories, as well as a common sense approach. Ultimately, I can only hope that this will, when combined with my writing style, allow my shark to “bite” readers in a way they’ve yet to be bitten.
Q: While we are on the subject, how many books are ultimately planned in the KR series?
A: Currently, there will be six books in the series. Book one, the two Kraken books, two more installments following Kraken, and a prequel.
Q: The size of your monstrous pliosaur has some theoretical basis in reality, based on the giant pliosaur found in Aramberri, Mexico, and certain fossil fragments at the London Museum of Natural History. Will you give us some details about that?
A: According to at least one paleontologist, individual teeth and vertebrae in the LMNH indicate a Liopleurodon contemporary (or perhaps just a very large L. ferox) in the 21-meter (68-foot) range. However, after reviewing Dr. Eberhard Frey’s report on the Aramberri pliosaur and his calculations on the size of the tooth crown (exposed portion) of one of the pliosaurs that bit into its skull, I am convinced that pliosaurs grew well beyond 21 meters. My theory was bolstered by analysis of photos of a huge (9”) Liopleurodon tooth and a comparison of it to corresponding teeth in the jaws of the 12-meter Pliosaurus kevani (aka the Weymouth Bay pliosaur) Both of these animals had 5” tooth crowns. The Aramberri specimen was bitten by something with 12” crowns. The implications were staggering, suggesting the possibility of a blue whale-sized macropredator. Even being conservative, it’s looking more and more that 25-meter (80-foot) or larger Thalassophoneans were once a reality. I think it’s just a matter of time before enough fossil material becomes available to prove it a certainty.
Q: In addition to the giant pliosaur fossils, you have also looked into to some anomalous modern-day possible attacks on large marine animals (the 3-meter Great White in Bremer Canyon, the 65-foot Fin whale stranded at Cornwall) that could potentially indicate the actual existence of something along the lines of one of your monster pliosaurs. Can you expound on that?
A: My analysis of symmetrical puncture marks on the face of the finback that beached itself at Cornwall is what first led me to believe that a very large – and unidentified – marine predator might still at large in our oceans. I wasn’t fully convinced, however, until I completed my analysis of the data provided by the two “Super Predator” television documentaries (featured on my Facebook fan page a few months back, and most recently here). After looking at all the info (swimming speed, the predator’s movements post-feeding, body temperature, etc) I came to the conclusion that creature that consumed “Shark Alpha” was not a fish, nor a cetacean. It was some sort of monstrous marine reptile. In fact, if you check the numbers, its body temperature is actually a perfect match for what a leatherback sea turtle’s would be in water that cold. Could it be a pliosaur? Doubtful. Based on the fossil record and dozens of sightings over the last century, I’d be more inclined to believe it’s some sort of oversized mosasaur. Not my personal favorite, mind you, but hey . . . if it turns out to be real, I’ll take it!
Q: And finally, when is the release date for “Kraken”?
A: The new Kronos Rising Novel Series website just went live yesterday (www.kronosrising.com). Readers can go on right now and register for a free PDF of Chapter 1 (emailed instantly). I’m pleased to say that, even overnight, Chapter 1 has gotten rave reviews. Formal e-book presales for Kindle and other platforms will commence on April 6th (my birthday), and Kraken’s actual “unleashing” will be on April 24th, including hard copies. It’s going to be a fun beach season. And I’m looking hungrily forward to it!