Hugh Brewster's latest book is Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World.
From his Q & A with J. Kingston Pierce at January Magazine:
J. Kingston Pierce: When did you first become interested in the Titanic, and why?Learn more about Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage.
Hugh Brewster: When I was 6 my family emigrated to Canada from Scotland and crossing the Atlantic aboard the Canadian Pacific liner, Empress of Britain, was a big event in my young life. Then, when I was about 12 I was gripped by the movie A Night to Remember and can recall debating with my two brothers what we would have done to escape from the sinking Titanic. In 1984, as the editorial director for Madison Press Books, a Toronto book producer, I met [oceanographer] Robert Ballard, who said that he was going to find the Titanic, which he did the next year. I then edited and compiled his book The Discovery of the Titanic, which came out in 1987. It was an international bestseller and Walter Lord, who had begun my Titanic fascination with A Night to Remember years before, provided the introduction.
Twenty more books followed, and in compiling them I did a great deal of research and met a number of survivors and also many relatives of survivors. And I was always struck by what a remarkable convergence of lives came together on that fateful maiden voyage, which led me to write Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage.
JKP: There are so many new books about that 1912 tragedy and its aftermath. What makes Gilded Lives stand out from the pack?
HB: In most other Titanic books, the liner is the protagonist, and the people aboard simply supporting players identified by labels such as “millionaire John Jacob Astor” or “fashion designer Lady Duff Gordon.” I wanted to move the characters into the foreground, but I also knew from my years in publishing that you have to use the haunting narrative of the sinking to make a book compelling. I decided to...[read on]