The Fletchers are an English family living in expatriate comfort in Singapore in 2002 when a recession threatens their lifestyle. Geophysicist Michael and his son, Alex, are drawn into a marine survey to locate the Siren, an East Indiaman, sunk in a tempest in the Sulu Sea in 1764. Onboard, a rich cargo of 250,000 cases of Ming Dynasty porcelain lies buried on the seabed. A single plate recovered by a diver sets in motion the frantic search by Michael’s company, PanAsia Services, in a race against a rival team led by Tong, a ruthless Clan leader and collector of antique porcelain. Michael’s wife, Julie is worried as the Sulu Sea is the hunting ground of local pirate gangs and the brutal Abu Sayyaf terrorist group led by Khadaffy Janjalani. The remote area where the shipwreck lies buried is close to terrorist jungle camps on Basilan Island.
Can Michael’s team locate the precious cargo before they are attacked? Can we be sure Julie wants her husband back if he is held hostage?
This fast-paced novel is located in many colourful locations in SE Asia including Singapore, Zamboanga and Tawi-Tawi Island. The struggle for an independent Muslim Mindanao by Abu Sayyaf is one of continuing conflict.
A fast-paced and well researched novel based on the Author’s intimate knowledge of the region.
Targeted Age Group:: 16+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
Personal experience whilst working as a marine geophysicist in many high risk countries in Western Africa, Middle East and Asia. I was onboard the Askelad offshore Nigeria when she was attacked by pirates and two hostages taken. In my book the survey area is set in the Sulu Sea as I know this area well from similar expeditions in the past.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters are imaginary, but based on an assemblage of character traits from many interesting people I have met.
On a balmy day near noon on Tuesday, February 14, 1764 the East Indiaman ‘The Siren’ came to grief on Brutus Reef in the Sulu Sea.
As the ship sat upright on the seabed, the sand waves into which she fell first cushioned her fall and then entrapped and buried her. Within a few years, trains of dunes hid the last traces of the Siren and her valuable cargo. The skeleton of the teenage apprentice stared out blindly from his crow’s nest, and fish flew into his gaping mouth and left via the open eye sockets.
The main mast stuck a defiant finger and the uniform of the boy shrank over his bones, flakes of his red shirt danced in the current, the bright colours shimmering as shafts of sunlight pierced the waters. At last, masthead and the apprentice fell in a graceful arc to a seabed repose, and sand and coral encrusted his skeleton.
Onboard a rich cargo of 250,000 cases of Ming Dynasty porcelain lay buried until a diver recovered a single plate in the mid 1980s.
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Link To Buy Hostage to Freedom: The Search for the Siren On Amazon
Richard Sorapure is a marine geologist and geophysicist who has worked all over the world, mainly on short-term projects for civil engineering, government and oil and gas companies. From 1983 to 1994, he was based in Singapore where four of his five children were born. During this time most of his projects were in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, with occasional forays further afield to India, the Middle East , Taiwan, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.
‘Hostage to Freedom: The Search for the Siren’ is Richard’s first published novel, released in June 2021. It took 10 years to complete and is based on his experiences in Singapore and the Philippines and, with artistic licence, it has weaved in a dramatic attack on his survey vessel, MV Askelad, offshore Nigeria by an armed gang of twenty pirates. Two of the survey team were taken hostage. Nowadays he is happy to concentrate on writing a second novel and concentrating on gardening back home in his home in Somerset.