Michael J. Ganas combined his love of engineering, the sea, scuba diving, and adventure into a nearly 30-year action-packed career in marine engineering. Photo: Marco Giacchi
Civil engineer Michael J. Ganas says his novel is for readers who want to escape to a world of action-adventure and fantasy. The self-published novel is available at most bookstores or by calling 888-280-7715. For more information, visit Photo: AuthorHOUSE

Former Navy Seal Jake Javolyn is a dive boat operator by profession and a part-time smuggler by necessity. Dr. Franklin Graham is a marine zoologist seeking closure for the deaths of his wife and unborn child 22 years ago. Destiny is a beautiful girl on a mission to rescue dolphins from a Colombian fishing trawler. What on earth could these three people have in common? They're all characters in a book written by civil engineer Michael J. Ganas, PE.

With his self-published action-adventure novel, The Girl Who Rode Dolphins, Ganas has joined the ranks of those proving to the world that engineers are creative. The managing director of Boswell Underwater Engineering of South Hackensack, N.J., began the writing leg of his career nearly 20 years ago with technical articles in trade magazines; in 1993, for example, he contributed articles to PUBLIC WORKS about underwater inspection and marine engineering.

Of his transition to fiction, Ganas says, “I've always sensed that I had at least one novel in me just waiting to get out, so one day I took pen to paper and started writing.” Four years later, a book was born.

Ganas calls his book “fast-paced and thunderous.” To meld fact and fiction into a fantastical, high-suspense novel, he researched bottlenose dolphins, the history of Haiti, Navy Seals training, Islamic terrorism, global warming, and James Lovelock's controversial Gaia Hypothesis, “an idea that the entire earth is alive and acts as a complete organism, possessing various self-regulating mechanisms for its survival,” explains Ganas.

He also drew from his experiences, as both a helicopter crew chief in the Vietnam War and a deep-sea commercial diver, to flesh out a mystical story that includes sea battles and political intrigue.

Ganas wrote the book to honor his wife, who's battled chronic myloid leukemia for nine years. His characters' worlds collide in the Caribbean waters, and the story takes a supernatural turn when an injured Jake discovers Destiny's miraculous gift of healing. Soon after Jake learns that the dolphins are there to save mankind from itself.

And so the adventure begins.

“Bottlenose dolphins have the ability to detect illness in humans, and I've created a fantasy in which a pod of mutated albino dolphins can focus their energies through Destiny to heal people,” explains Ganas. “I also wanted to bring attention to the plight of dolphins and how they are often killed or injured by modern fishing fleets and ships' sonar.” Ganas must wait until he receives his first royalty check to find out how many copies have been sold since the book's July release, but he's already felt a few small thrills of victory. “It was quite a rush to see a guy reading my book while working out at the gym I belong to,” he says.

If his first attempt at storytelling proves a success, Ganas probably won't give up his day job. He enjoys being an engineer, and especially leading a staff of engineer divers. “It has given me a tremendous sense of gratification, particularly since we all feel we're serving the public by inspecting the structural integrity of water-spanning bridges,” he says.

Even so, he's entertained several new story ideas, including a sequel. And though he's not counting on it, he wouldn't mind seeing a movie based upon his first novel.