Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Those of us living on the East Coast got a visit from hurricane Sandy earlier this week. Though most of us here on the blog are far enough north that we escaped the full force of her wind and rain, the experience of listening to freight train winds and waiting for the lights to go out got us thinking about how acts of Mother Nature figure in our writing process and in our stories. Have you ever written through a natural disaster? Do storms put you in a writing mood? Have you used extreme weather events in your stories?
Jamie Wallace: With each storm that approaches, I have hopeful visions of being holed up safely in my house while the forces of Mother Nature swirl around just outside the window. I imagine that I will be cut off from the world and my usual routines, unable to continue wading through the usual list of To Do items and household chores. I dream of curling up on the couch with pen and notebook, a good novel, or my Macbook and reading and writing to my heart’s content. It’s a lovely dream, but it has yet to come true. Up ’til now, my daughter has always demanded my attention on such snowed in or stormy weather days. However, now that my daughter is growing to be a reader and writer in her own right, I think there’s more of a chance that I might see my vision come to life. In fact, if I were a betting woman, I’d guess that the real world version of my imagined nirvana will include the added charm of sitting toe-to-toe with my daughter, snuggled under some blankets and intermittently comparing notes on our reading. Now that would be bliss.
Lisa J. Jackson: I like to read if I’m left in the dark on a stormy day (with a headlamp), although with Hurricane Sandy I almost spent time writing about the anxiety I had wondering if or when I was going to lose power. I haven’t used severe weather in any stories I’ve written – at least not that I can recall at the moment – but since I do write creepy, there is a lot of darkness and danger of the psychological kind. Oh, wait, my novel from last year included some of Mother Nature’s antics – such as a character looking forward to hiking, just to be blasted in the face with rain and cold wind when he’s at the halfway point above treeline and before shelter. He ended up choosing to keep climbing up and got lost in the mist.
Diane MacKinnon: I once experienced a severe storm while away on a writing retreat on the West Coast. My room had a wall of windows at the head of the bed and to either side. In the good weather it felt like sleeping under the stars, but in the high winds and rain of one stormy night I felt totally exposed to the elements (and the tall, tall, trees all around that were creaking and moving in the wind). I spent part of the night sitting up, journaling by candlelight in the kitchen (we lost power early in the evening) and part of the night huddled in the bottom half of the bed, trying to stay out of the path of the trees. It was not a comfortable night, but even in the midst of my anxiety, I was in awe at the power of the storm going on around me. I can imagine using those emotions in a story at some point–maybe during this year’s nano!
Wendy Thomas: for the most part with 6 kids and a flock of animals to attend to, I don’t have too much time to write during a bad storm. During one ice-storm where we ended up staying in a shelter for a few days, I did write a series of reports for the newspaper, but I’ve never written personal material during a storm. This last hurricane however, because I am on so many press distribution lists, I was able to pass on current information to others throughout the entire storm (we never lost electricity the entire time) by way of Facebook. I was even able to attend a phone conference with FEMA in the middle of the storm and get that information out as it was announced. It wasn’t so much original writing as much as it was managing writing and getting information out. Social Media is definitely changing how we communicate with each other during emergencies.
Deborah Lee Luskin: After Irene ripped through my village last year, I was hugely relieved that Sandy passed us by (with a power outage timed just right for a candlelight dinner by the fire). I ended up writing several radio commentaries about Irene for Vermont Public Radio. I’d rather read during a storm than write during one. Nevertheless, weather plays a huge role in my fiction set in Vermont – where weather is a character all of its own. Weather can set a mood, reflect internal drama, direct plot – singly or all at once! And it’s fun to use language that mimics rain or wind or the langor of a sultry summer afternoon.
Julie Hennrikus: I intended to write, or read, or work. But I found I could barely function during the storm on Monday. I live in a 4th floor condo, with lots of windows, so I expected Miss Gultch to fly by any time. I also have friends and family in the path of Sandy, so I was nervous. (Everyone is fine, though several still without power.) A mystery writer I know posted on Facebook that a storm like Sandy is the perfect climax to a genre novel. I have to agree. But I won’t be able to focus until after the storm has passed.