A Travellerspoint blog

Diving and research in the Maldives

Right after my research trip to Ukraine, I headed to the Maldives (via Paris and Dubai) in the Indian Ocean to research the islands, reefs and marine life in the South Ari Atoll. Using the Vilamendhoo Island Resort as my base, I went diving around the area to find interesting, unique sites that could be featured in an upcoming novel. Once you’re underwater, it’s easy to see why the Maldives is one of the top diving destinations. It’s all here to see up close—whale sharks, eels, rays, turtles, and more—and I’m already thinking about how to include this in a thriller plot.

Here are some pictures I took (there were so many, so this is just a small selection):

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Posted by AC Frieden 22:27 Archived in Maldives Republic Comments (0)

Tour of Chernobyl and the abandoned town of Pripyat

Research for my upcoming thriller The Pyongyang Option

I arrived in Kiev, Ukraine, to research scenes for my upcoming spy thriller The Pyongyang Option. As part of this research, he toured the damaged Chernobyl nuclear power station complex, coming within 100 meters of the infamous reactor No. 4 that exploded in 1986, I also toured the nearby abandoned city of Pripyat. The Chernobyl disaster was something I’ve always wanted to research in greater depth, and seeing the nuclear facility up-close is one of my most fascinating experiences.

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Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located in northern Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union) exploded on April 26, 1986. The explosion and resulting fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which quickly spread over neighboring Belarus and Western Europe. The disaster is considered to be the worst accident of nuclear power plant in history, along with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan. The explosion triggered a vast, complicated and costly operation by Soviet authorities to contain the radioactive contamination. While the official Soviet casualty count of was minimal, there is undisputed evidence that many people died from long-term effects of the radiation. Today, the Ukrainian government, with the financial support of other countries and international organization, is finishing a new containment structure to replace the existing one. The so-called sarcophagus that is currently in place was designed to contain the radioactive contaminants in the damaged reactor for only 30 years and needs prompt replacement.

Here are more pictures from my tour of the town of Chernobyl and the nuclear facility:

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PRIPYAT:

One of the areas that suffered the most contamination was the city of Pripyat, which Frieden visited after touring the nuclear power plant. Pripyat was founded in 1970 to house nuclear power workers and their families. With about 50,000 inhabitants, the town was made up of typical Soviet-style multistory apartment buildings, along with restaurants, shops and recreational centers. The authorities were heavily criticized for failing to evacuate the city quickly enough after the Chernobyl explosion, and as a consequence many of its inhabitants suffered severe illnesses over time. Today, the city remains abandoned, open to the occasional curious visitors who don’t mind receiving an unhealthy dose of radiation.

Here are some pictures I took in Pripyat:

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Posted by AC Frieden 21:24 Archived in Ukraine Tagged ukraine nuclear accident research disaster author fiction chernobyl frieden novelist ac_frieden priypat radiation Comments (0)

Research trip to Havana, Cuba

Researching two thrillers in the Cuban capital

I headed to Havana, Cuba on July 4 (coincidental date, of course) to research scenes for two upcoming books, one of them being The Serpent's Game, set for release in fall 2013. Unlike trips to Cuba by most Americans, mine was legal (with a license for travel that allowed me to fly directly between Miami and Havana). There was so much to see, that it's impossible to cram it all into this post. But these pictures will give you a taste of everything I researched.

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My novel The Serpent's Game will also feature scenes from one of Havana's most historical hotels, the Hotel Nacional. For this reason, I decided to stay a couple nights in a suite on high floor, with great views of nearby buildings, including the U.S. Mission, as well as the Malecon.

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Posted by AC Frieden 13:00 Archived in Cuba Comments (0)

Seaplane flight training on the lakes of Minnesota

Research for a seaplane action scene in The Serpent's Game

I headed to Lino Lakes just north of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to get my seaplane rating, which involves about 8-9 hours of dual training and a check-ride with an FAA examiner. This training is particularly relevant to my novels since I'm about to write an action scene involving a seaplane flight (and crash) for my upcoming thriller The Serpent's Game.

Here are some pictures from the training:

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Posted by AC Frieden 12:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Researching diving scenes in Belize for a new thriller

I headed to Ambergris Caye in Belize to research scuba diving scenes for a new thriller and for a much-needed writing retreat. Pics and details to be posted shortly.

Posted by AC Frieden 12:42 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Christmas and New Years in Uruguay

A bit of sun, diving, book research and writing down in South America

This was my third trip to Uruguay in 2011, and this time I used the trip mostly as a writing retreat, working on manuscripts for my second and third installment of the Jonathan Brooks spy thriller series.

Here are some pics from Uruguay:

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I also went scuba diving in the murky waters off the main peninsula of Punta del Este. The visibility was horrible (less than two feet), and I lost my GoPro, too.

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Posted by AC Frieden 12:34 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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