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A modern retelling of Jules Verne’s high-seas adventure, with an exiled captain using an illicit submarine for smuggling, discovering riches, and revenge.

When a US expedition is attacked, three survivors—a professor, her student and a soldier—are saved by a mysterious vessel, the Naumtsev. The enigmatic Captain Nikto elects to keep them aboard, requiring each of their skills for his daring pursuits. But as they navigate the globe, evidence of the rogue submarine alerts the world’s navies, forcing the captives to work together to avoid annihilation.

Author Richard Wickliffe spent a few minutes with The Big Thrill discussing his latest adventure thriller, 20,000 KILOS UNDER THE SEA:

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

This is the first time I’ve written a story that’s in the public domain (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). My challenge was to update a plausible way the story could exist with modern technology and a believable plot. So an outline of the story already existed, and my characters are inspired by the characters in the original work. However, I did change gender and roles with some to better balance the story in the modern world.

Richard Wickliffe

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

Like a lot of kids from the ’70s and ’80s, my favorite ride was “20,000 Leagues” at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I could sit in a “real” submarine, listening to Captain Nemo’s recorded narration, I witnessed the gaping jaws of giant clams, sharks, and divers harvesting the seafloor. We traveled beneath shimmering icebergs. Volcanic activity revealed a sunken Atlantis, only to be attacked by a giant squid. It was pure magic yet rooted in the real world. I wondered if I could capture that same sense of magic and adventure.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

The screenplay is already written. All my works are written to be cinematic. I always write the script first, so by the time I write the books, I’ve already got the act structure, all characters, their arcs, dialogue, action and twists, all culminating to a finale. We are long overdue for a reboot of the classic adventure—and I’m ready.


Richard Wickliffe’s thriller Storm Crashers was awarded Best Popular Fiction at the Florida Book Awards and was optioned by Twentieth Century Fox. Wickliffe has been published in journals in the investigative field and enjoys speaking about unique crimes, including the FBI’s InfraGard Counterterrorism conferences and seminars in Las Vegas committed to accuracy in crime writing. He’s the recipient of the FBI’s Exceptional Service in the Public Interest Award.

To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.