Exploring the Real-World Parallels to Travel Thriller Harvest Cruise

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Thriller | 0 comments

In a guest post for Authors’ Lounge, author Rebecca Benison describes the dark themes and real-world parallels of the travel thriller Harvest Cruise.

When I started writing Harvest Cruise, I wasn’t sure what the eventual story would be. I knew there would be a female lead who, at some point, became stranded on an island. The inspiration came from a short story entry in a writing contest that I felt had more to be told. The entry didn’t win, but the spark was ignited.

As I started writing, I considered ways a woman might become stranded on an island. A cruise ship leaving without her seemed like a plausible scenario. But what events would need to transpire for that to happen, and what came next? It was by answering these questions that I was able to build the full story. The second question proved to be much more challenging to answer than the first.

Dark Themes in Harvest Cruise

For anyone who’s read Harvest Cruise you’ll know that it gets dark. For those who don’t know, there are a few scenes of horror. But it’s the themes themselves, more than the scenes, that are difficult to confront.

On social media, I’ve seen it said that kidnapping and human trafficking are overblown problems that most people don’t have to worry about. But the truth is that these things happen. I think the fact that people don’t see themselves as potential victims is both a triumph and a vulnerability. We all want to live our lives without fear. But we also need to be aware of threats to protect ourselves from them, when possible.

The main character in Harvest Cruise, Geri, is an anxious person. Her mind is always considering worst-case scenarios, and yet she still became a victim. I think it’s important to realize that not everything is in our control, no matter how prepared we think we are. Do we need to live on constant high-alert? No, but I think that acknowledging that problems exist is the first step to solving them. Thinking that it won’t happen to you, or doesn’t happen at all, doesn’t benefit anyone.

When Life Imitates Art

Lately, there have been a few high-profile cases of people in power exploiting those without. The victims, largely young women, were forced into situations where they were treated like commodities rather than people.

In Harvest Cruise, there’s a network of aristocrats and world leaders at the helm of a human trafficking network. I had written the manuscript just a few years before the Jeffrey Epstein case hit mass media. I couldn’t believe that what I thought was an original story had actually played out in the real world, albeit in less gruesome ways, as far as I’m aware.

Just recently, a music icon has come into the spotlight for human trafficking allegations. While the accounts and circumstances in Harvest Cruise are fictionalized, there’s very much an element of realness in light of recent discoveries.

Even the cruise industry has come under scrutiny as more and more people have been reported missing from cruises in recent years, in addition to alleged abduction attempts. Thanks to social media, these seemingly one-off stories are gaining attention and joining others that, until recently, have gone largely unnoticed.

But, My Goal for Harvest Cruise Isn’t to Scare People Away from the Cruise Industry

In fact, after doing research on cruises, I’m more interested in eventually going on one myself! My goal was simply to create a story. I’ve been surprised by the many cases where this story has seemingly come to life, and frankly, I find that much more disturbing than the story itself. Bad people are everywhere, but we don’t stop leaving the house to avoid them. 

I think it’s important to live your life in a way that brings you joy without minimizing or dismissing the very real threats that surround us. What that balance looks like will vary from person to person. My hope for Harvest Cruise is that people see it as an escape rather than a cautionary tale.


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