Bangor author Colin Bateman has teamed up with Open House Festival to re-publish his children’s book Titanic 2020 - a story which has a particular relevance not only to the year, but to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Originally published in 2007, the award-winning futuristic adventure set in 2020 follows Belfast boy Jimmy Armstrong who stows away on the new and definitely unsinkable Titanic.
As the ship sets sail, a mysterious, incurable disease begins to spread across the globe, causing widespread panic.
There while there’s an obvious sense of foreshadowing, but Colin, who made his name with novels like Divorcing Jack and Empire State before moving in to screenwriting, including the recent biopic of motor industry entrepreneur John De Lorean, Driven, insists he didn’t have a crystal ball.
“Back when I wrote it, I could never have predicted the circumstances we find ourselves in today,” he said.
“I had been on a cruise which planted the seed of an idea, and I’d always fancied the notion of an adventure on a new Titanic.
“But the book is not all doom and fear-mongering. I think it makes for a great escape into a fantasy version of what we’re currently facing - one filled with adventure, humour and ultimately, hope.”
The book, which is aimed at 9-12-year-olds, has been out of print for some time, and when the rights reverted to Colin, he considered making it available again in 2020, with the obvious connection to the title. With the current pandemic, it has become even more timely, and the re-release became a no-brainer. Today it is published on kindle by Open House Books.
“When I decided to re-publish, I didn’t want to look for a new traditional publisher, or do it as a solo self-publishing venture,” said Colin.
“I’ve been working with the team at Open House since their first Bangor festival in 2013, and I knew they would be the perfect people to partner with for this new adventure.
“They never shy away from a challenge and they will help bring Titanic 2020 to a whole new audience.”
The publication is a new departure for Open House, who, like most organisations in the Arts sector have been badly affected by the current pandemic.
“In these strange times, when we can’t run events, this project is a great way for Open House to stay connected with our audiences online, and to support one of our finest and best loved local writers,” said Open House manager, Alison Gordon.
“Colin is a regular collaborator with Open House, and was instrumental in creating our Bangor Festival back in 2013.
“When he approached us about co-publishing Titanic 2020 on Kindle, we thought it was the perfect partnership – and impeccable timing.
“A story about a pandemic, set in 2020 but written thirteen years ago, is uncanny. Fact is indeed stranger than fiction!”
Titanic 2020 is available now on Kindle. The sequel, Cannibal City, will be released in the coming weeks.