On Tuesday, July 22, Boston Globe best selling author Michael Tougias will be arriving at the Westborough Public Library to give a captivating presentation on his newest tale upon the sea Rescue of the Bounty which is also co-authored by veteran writer Doug Campbell. No charge is required for this public event and people of all ages are welcome to attend. The presentation starts at 7:00 P.M. and will go on for about an hour as the distinguished lecturer will provide the audience with a stunning collection of heart-racing pictures showing the HMS Bounty fighting its way through the atrocities of Hurricane Sandy. Michael’s insightful knowledge of the event serves as a remarkable narration over the slide show that will be projected to all who come.
The story begins on October 25, 2012 when Captain Robin Walbridge made the fateful decision to sail the HMS Bounty from New London, Connecticut to St. Petersburg, Florida. Walbridge was well aware that a hurricane was forecast to come up the Eastern seaboard. He explained to his crew of 15 that the ship would fare better at sea than at port, and that he thought he could sail “around the hurricane.” Captain Walbridge told the crew that anyone who did not want to come on the voyage could leave the ship and there would be no hard feelings. No one took the captain up on his offer, and this decision would have fatal consequences.
Before diving into this project, Tougias knew that he needed help with Rescue of the Bounty since the author was already busy putting another book together. He had the idea of teaming up with Doug Campbell who had also written stories that were set in the ocean including, The Sea’s Bitter Harvest, and Eight Survived. “I had admired Doug’s work for years but I’d never met him,” said Michael, “so I called him and the collaboration turned out to be the perfect match.”
During the process of putting this nonfiction piece together every word in the book was verified by the people who were there making it as accurate as possible. Tougias always believes in keeping these kind of stories in a fast-paced style for readers to take in. “I hear from my readers weekly that they often stay up half the night reading the book.” says Michael “That’s how I know if I succeeded with the character-driven, fast paced story.”
Michael Tougias has come across many accounts of ships in peril over the years, but special elements have to exist in a certain event in order for the author to spend time making a book out of one of them. The particular qualities he looks for are surprises, characters that are colorful or unique, rescue attempts that go beyond the normal Coast Guard retrieves, and survivors that are honest and articulate. “Any story without these facets will make a good magazine article,” says Tougias, “but it can not sustain a book.”
In years past Michael first got a hold of an audio tape that contained radio transmissions of three boats that were in distress during the blizzard of 1978. He found that what he was listening to was so incredible and unreal that it made the hair on his neck stand up. This infatuation provoked the author to do a staggering amount of research over the events that grabbed his attention and wrote page after page until completing his first true survival thriller Ten Hours Until Dawn. Tougias didn’t know what to expect when it got released to the public but Ten Hours Until Dawn ended up winning the American Library Association Best Books Award, making him feel that he found a niche which worked for himself and for readers. After the triumphant success of his first ocean disaster book Michael went on to write Fatal Forecast, The Finest Hours, Overboard, A Storm Too Soon, and now Rescue of the Bounty making this his sixth literary achievement with ships in turmoil.
Michael Tougias’ career expands well beyond stories of the mighty deep; 2014 has been a very busy year for this versatile author as two other books have been published by him, both being very different from one another. Derek’s Gift covers the story of a young teenager named Derek Sheckman who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer during his senior year of high school. As a result of his illness, Derek began describing his thoughts and perceptions of life in a journal before parting from the world at the age of eighteen. There was difficulty in selling the project for Tougias and teacher and co-author Buck Harris, but they eventually found a great publisher. Tougias describes Derek’s Gift as a cross between Tuesdays with Morrie and The Fault in Our Stars and feels anyone who has a teenager as a son, daughter, or friend should consider giving them a copy of the book. “Derek’s wisdom and tips for living a complete life will resonate with young people who are facing difficult decisions,” said Michael.
On a lighter note, Michael has published another humorous memoir called The Cringe Chronicles which he wrote with his daughter Kristin. It covers family events with Kristin explaining what it was like to grow up with an eccentric father and the embarrassing scenarios that would unfold over the years; Michael also pitches in with his side of the story throughout the book as well. “My daughter Kristin and I wanted The Cringe Chronicles to be both brutally honest and laugh-out-loud funny,” says Michael. “Both parents and teens will relate to the misadventures.” Kristin Tougias is also a top-notch writer and Michael found it a pleasure to pass along some of his techniques for humor writing to his daughter.
Writing didn’t intentionally come to Tougias while growing up. Michael was born and raised in Longmeadow, Massachusetts where he spent his childhood being awestruck by the Connecticut River and wandering through other wilderness locations that he could get to. When he got accepted at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, Tougias majored in business and would sometimes spend weekends in the library hunting down old books about the outdoors, a clue indicating his future as a writer. After his days at Saint Michael’s, Tougias lived and worked in Chicago, but not for very long. Though he found the people great, Tougias wasn’t pleased with the land, finding it to be very flat and longing for mountain streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean which he was so accustomed to back home. Michael decided to move back to New England.
It wasn’t until Tougias bought a cabin in Vermont where he became more compelled with nature and decided to take a crack at writing. A long series of trials and errors had occurred for Michael with his misadventures in Vermont. He tried to find his cabin while driving through muddy dirt roads, he discovered that a bear was living underneath his cabin, and he got lost in the woods as dusk drew near. After seeing a porcupine in the bottom of his outhouse, Michael was inspired to name a memoir accounting all of these events in more amusing details many years later in a book called There’s a Porcupine in My Outhouse. Tougias eventually got the hang of his secluded environment, learning more about the mountains, trees, plants, and animals on his own. He would spend many weekends in this area while balancing a full-time job and living in Massachusetts.
Being inspired by Thoreau and other naturalists, Michael Tougias began articulating nature in his own words and started getting articles published on wilderness topics. As the years passed, Michael juggled a full-time day job, raised two children, and he wrote his articles whenever he found a free minute. Being very determined to succeed as a writer, He set up a desk down in the basement of his house where his kids would also play. One time Tougias was writing an article on fishing when his four year old son was playing basketball and accidentally hit him in the head with the ball. He just kept typing away and said “good shot.” As his passion and determination for writing pressed on, Michael Tougias then had the good fortune of getting his first book published, Exploring the Hidden Charles.
Michael Tougias has explored and depicted a vast selection of New England into his books; from locating the head waters of the Connecticut River in Pittsburg, New Hampshire in his book River Days, to describing the crew members of The Almeisan leaving Black Rock Harbor of the Connecticut Shoreline in Overboard. He’s covered books on the history of King Philip’s War and The Blizzard of 1978, intertwined the past and present of the Quabbin Reservoir, and assembled nature guide books incorporating every part of the state of Massachusetts. Michael also wrote a fascinating work of fiction called Until I Have No Country which brilliantly establishes the point of views from both Native Americans and Colonial Settlers during King Philip’s War. “I absolutely loved writing fiction and hope to do so again,” Said Michael.
Today the popularity of Michael Tougias’ books are at an all-time high, and he enjoys the pleasure of writing on a full-time basis. He spends his time fishing, reading, looking for new material, and giving many presentations throughout the year. Tougias doesn’t like the idea of doing an author reading and would rather inform his audiences on educational and entertaining facts that are not mentioned in whatever books he presents. At the end of his presentations he always finds time to talk with fans and brings a suitcase full of his various books which can be purchased and signed by him. He goes to every state in New England to talk about each of his books and sometimes states out of New England such as Florida. Michael Tougias goes to schools, historical societies, yacht clubs, and libraries to share his work with the public. This Tuesday you have the chance of going to the Westborough Public Library and plunging into the depths of Michael Tougias’ craft.
“Reading the book is an emotional experience, the reader feels they are in the storm with the people in the book and the reader is pulling for them. But not everyone makes it and not all the decisions turn out to be good ones. Most importantly, the reader will care about the characters.” -Michael Tougias
To learn more about Michael Tougias you can visit his website.