Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Riverboat Harriott II Steams Into Uncharted Waters: A Tourism Novel

The real Harriott II will appear in the fictional novel Uncharted Waters.
Excerpt From: Uncharted Waters by Sara DuBose
Tourism Attraction: Harriott II Riverboat
Location: Montgomery, AL
Photos: Diane Prothro
(Click any photo to enlarge!)
Model: Sarah Hunter

The riverboat Harriot II is making its first appearance in a tourism novel: Uncharted Waters by Sara DuBose, set for release October 1. In Uncharted Waters, Beth Davidson faces frightening encounters with a stalker, but she takes matters into her own hands by joining the Montgomery Police Academy. Although the character of Beth is fictional, all of the places in the novel are real, including many tourism attractions. Join Beth as she learns what it takes to become a Montgomery police officer.

The following scene takes place in the heart of downtown Montgomery’s riverfront entertainment district, within sight of the Montgomery Visitor Center in the historic Union Train Station, the Renaissance Hotel and Spa, and Alley Station. Follow the tourism guide at the end of this excerpt to learn how to visit all of the places in this new suspense novel set in one of the South’s many getaways. Also find links to excerpts of other tourism novels set in Montgomery and across the South, and learn about the latest exciting developments in the tourism fiction genre nationwide. 

From Uncharted Waters:

As I drove away from the safe haven of the Honda dealership my mind kicked into fast forward. I told myself, don’t rush and don’t cut it too close and let it make you nervous. Nervous? I almost laughed out loud. Nervous was my middle name. Taking the I-85 interstate, the self talk continued. Hang in there. You’re gonna be okay. Try to park in a business slot if you can. This will seem more normal. He may not be watching you park anyway. My guess is he is more intent on getting you into the tunnel.

My heart flopped in my chest. How reassuring, Beth!

Soon I took the Union Street exit and passed the Little White House of the Confederacy on my left. Now there was no time for reminiscing or touring as I had done with Dad. Today I stayed on Union, passing the back of the Alabama State Capitol on my way to Madison Avenue. My mind accelerated. What . . . what if he has a gun?
Beth, this man wants a date with you. It’s not likely he’ll have a gun. If by some slim chance he pulls a pistol, remember the cautionary e-mail you received recently: run like mad. Run in a zigzag fashion.

I stared out the windshield, trying to simulate a dash through the tunnel but my whole body suddenly felt like someone had stuffed me inside a kettle drum during the William Tell Overture. I turned onto Madison and drove west to Commerce. Almost there.

Unlike Shannon, I’m usually on time. I’d be on time today. Now I turned right on Commerce and, after driving a block, I spotted a parking place only half a block from the tunnel. My Honda clock read five-fifty on the nose. The parking meter had fifteen more minutes but it isn’t necessary to feed them after six anyway. I reached for my water bottle and took a long sip, willing away the dryness.

What are you doing here? A tiny voice tried to flood its way into my consciousness. I dammed it up. After all, I told myself, if I could stop this psycho now there’d be no need to spill everything to Domestic Violence.
Beth prepares to face her stalker. The Harriott II
ticket office is in the immediate background,
with the Renaissance Hotel standing above.

Opening the door, I looked from left to right and then down to the end of Commerce. The street seemed strangely quiet. What to do with this permanent arm fixture, my purse. I punched the remote for my car trunk and thought about the recent e-mail warning: “Don’t use your remote after exiting your car.” Why? Something about a stranger picking up the signal. I wondered if it were true. Well, too late. I tossed the purse in, covering it with an old blanket. Someone was probably watching. I didn’t care.

I checked my watch again. Five-fifty two. I’d enter the tunnel in three minutes, five minutes earlier than planned. Would he be there? Yes. No. I didn’t know.

Stepping up to the curb, I could feel my heart pounding somewhere in my throat. One, two three, four. I counted the beats with each pace and tried to remember how to swallow. Suddenly, something whisked by. I jumped. The skate board almost scraped my arm but the boy hurried on. Was he headed for the tunnel? Probably. Would his appearance distract the stalker? I kept walking and watching the boy as he turned into the tube. I stopped, holding my breath. What to do next? Had my admirer said to meet him at the entrance or inside?
Beth cautiously enters the tunnel
leading to the Harriott II and riverfront.
A train passes above the tunnel
in the background.

Waiting, I continued to watch the boy but soon the sound of his footsteps faded. Now I was standing directly in front of the entrance; my eyes traveling down the long cylinder, feeling like a fox in fear of the hound. Waiting, I saw nothing unusual and heard no sound except the kettle drum still pounding. Pounding.

I finally took several steps just inside the tunnel and stopped, stifling a cough. Then, I looked behind me. Still nothing. After waiting what seemed like ten minutes, I checked my watch. Six-o-seven. The boy was long out of sight, but did I see someone down at the other end? I blinked.

Trembling now, I moved closer to the tunnel wall, wondering how long it would take me to run back to my car if the man approached. Donnie was right. I shouldn’t have come.
Beth goes deeper into the tunnel. 

Someone sneezed. I looked behind me. Nothing. No, it wasn’t a sneeze . . . it was a train—a six o’clock freight train pulling through the train shed just west of the tunnel. Now came a mournful whistle blow, followed by two more. Ordinarily, I love the sound of a train, but this was distracting. What should I do? I crept several more paces inside the hollow tube, hoping to recognize the person at the other end. The man had definitely moved closer but I couldn’t identify him . . .

---Excerpted with permission from UNCHARTED WATERS, Copyright © 2012 by Sara DuBose. All rights reserved

Gazing out on the Alabama River from inside the Harriott II
Although Uncharted Waters is a romantic suspense novel, the story does lead the reader to many real tourism attractions along the way. Check out some of the places highlighted in the novel through the tourism links below and feel free to return to these links after reading the book.

One of the things that really stood out to me while reading this novel was all of the places the characters ate. I literally counted at least fifteen different places to eat, which for a tourism novel could be very instructive to other writers. I might have gained a few pounds just reading this novel. This illustrates the true nature of Montgomery, where eating delicious southern food is almost held as sacred as college football. There's no better place to be initiated into this tradition than Montgomery's Alley Station, which has several great places to eat like the famous Dreamland Bar-B-Que. Visit the Alley Station's website in the Tourism Links below to learn more about its other attractions. 

While on board the Harriott II during this photo shoot, the captain told Sara and I of special murder mystery-themed cruises while piloting a riverboat in Savannah. That opens up some very interesting possibilities for future novels with scenes set on the Harriott II and other Montgomery area attractions.

Nowadays, some e-tourism novels can even allow the reader to click on tourism links from inside the novel itself if read on a Kindle or iPad, which enables readers to click on and browse related tourism websites without going to a separate computer. For more details, check out the links, photos, and excerpts below from two other tourism novels set in Montgomery, Blind Fate and Dixie Noir, that were featured in USA Today for their innovation in using e-reader technology to promote tourism through a novel.

A major theme in Uncharted Waters involves domestic violence and Beth going through the real Montgomery Police Academy. Please also check out the domestic violence education links provided by the author after the tourism links. Sara conducted many interviews with Academy officers to make the academy scenes realistic. Although not everyone can go through the academy, Sara also consulted with Debbie Robison, who teaches self-defense classes at the Armory Learning Arts Center. Learn more about Debbie's classes at her Facebook page: Thorn of the Rose: Self-Defense for Women and Girls.

Senator Clay Scofield will invite all
authors to focus on Alabama tourism
attractions when presenting the
2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award. 
Another major development in tourism fiction will occur when Alabama state senator Clay Scofield invites all Alabama authors to focus on tourism attractions in their novels and works. He will make the appeal while presenting Kathryn Lang with the nation’s first tourism fiction award, the 2012 SELTI Tourism Fiction Award at the Moundville Native American Festival on October 10th.

Novels are the perfect venue for promoting tourism to real attractions because they can engage potential tourists on a whole new level. Let’s face it; with the economy always on the verge of collapse due to lack of consumer spending, a new innovative tool that could revitalize tourism spending in areas all over the country could be very timely. After all: people who love to read also love to travel.

Nonfiction guidebooks are very informative, but they can't capture potential tourists' emotions like the characters in a novel can. If more publishers and novelists started setting stories in real places and including tourism guides, then that could ultimately have a very significant impact on our economy.

Author Sara DuBose
Pete Peterson Lodge (Lagoon Park area: a very scenic place for a picnic, especially in the fall)

Featured in USA Today: Dixie Noir, by noted author Kirk Curnutt. Dixie Noir is the story of a fictional former Crimson Tide football star who falls hard and fast from fame into disgrace. When he returns to his hometown of Montgomery, he finds that making amends is much more challengingand more dangerousthan anything he ever faced on the gridiron. Features the tourism attractions of the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum and the El Rey restaurant, along with many others.

Also featured in USA Today: Blind Fate, by Patrick Brian Miller. Blind Fate is the story of a blind violinist who must use all her senses to face off against a dangerous fugitive. Written from her unique “perspective,” readers will experience the story with no visuals to guide them. Features the tourism attractions of Jasmine Hill Gardens and Museum, the Rosa Parks Museum, and many others.

Cloverdale, by Daphne Simpkins. Cloverdale is about a retired teacher whose quiet life is turned upside down when two young church missionaries come to stay for a week. Featuring the real historic neighborhood of Old Cloverdale, the most beautiful in Montgomery.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may call:

  1. National Alliance of Family Justice Centers toll-free: 1-888-511-3522/
  2. National Network to  End Domestic Violence toll-free: 1-800-799-7233/Website:
  3. RAIIN(Rape Abuse Incest National Network)/Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE/
  4. Hot Peach Pages/search by country at: (In the UK, help is through the Women’s Aid and Refuge and the
      Free phone 24 hour Helpline is: 0808-2000-247.)

In the US, you may also contact the National Alliance of Family Justice Centers listed above.

Since Uncharted Waters is set in Alabama, other special numbers include:

  1. One Place Family Justice Center: 334-262-7378/ Website:
  2. Family Sunshine Center: 334-263-0218 /Website:
  3. Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence: Crisis line: 1-800-650-6522/ Website:
  4. Alabama state-wide domestic violence crisis line: 1-800-650-6522
  5. TTY Hotline for the hearing impaired: 1-800-787-3224

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