When Disaster Strikes
My current release, Cowboy Daddy holds a special place for me. In this book, my characters face something that twice in as many years, my community has had to face. Devastating wild fires.
Colorado Springs has lived through years of drought. We are a state known for our snow and skiing, and as a kid, you could practically set your watch by the 3 p.m. rain showers that fell every day. The evergreens were an integral part of life in Colorado. Then in 2012 and 2013, things changed.
That was around the time of my 30th wedding anniversary and my husband combined the gifts for both events by planning a two-week trip to Ireland. I’ve always dreamed of going there, so on Christmas I opened the gift of the tickets, and in mid-June we flew away to the lovely Emerald Isle.
We were in a pub in Cork, Ireland, when we saw the news on the TV screens that Colorado Spring, USA, our home town, was dealing with one of the largest wildfires in its history. The Waldo Canyon fire. It began on our anniversary. On the television above the bar, the beautiful Rocky Mountains on the west side of town were an inferno. We were too far away to do anything but worry and wonder. We watched as everyone and everything we knew sat in the line of the threat. The pub patrons watched with us, curious and empathetic.
We were able to call home and found out that our business was forced to close. Our staff was safe, as far as we knew, and our daughter, who we’d left home alone for the first time, was packing up what she could. My parents, who live in Denver were trying to get to her to pick her up. She wasn’t evacuated, but it was scary for her on her own.
Thankfully the loss of life wasn't greater, and our community has rebuilt much of what was lost.
A year later--we were home this time--and the Black Forest Fire struck. Our home, and thankfully our business, weren’t threatened, but the dark smoke clouds in the sky were just as frightening as the images had been on that pub television. The office where I work my day job was much closer, and people we knew and loved, lost everything.
As a person, I hurt for my community and as a writer, the words bubbled to the surface. Sometimes writers write to heal themselves. Sometimes it’s to fix something gone wrong, and sometimes it’s to do what we wish we could have done.
The scenes were flooding my mind. And in both instances, as I was online watching the events, I saw videos of what others did in such situations. One particular YouTube video of a farmer working to save his livelihood had me hitting the repeat button.
I knew that I was watching a hero. When Lane Beaumont showed up on the scene for my Hawkins sister, Amanda, the memory of that video leaped into my brain. I knew right then that it was the right story for Lane and Amanda. And it fit into the whole family series as it was Wyatt's ranch. (He was the hero in A Family For Tyler the first in the Chair at the Hawkins Table series.)
In other words, the whole thing felt right. Sitting down to write this story, those scenes flowed, which I’ve learned to trust.
So many times, my ideas come from seeing or hearing about everyday people, doing extraordinary things. It's inspiring.
And oddly enough, after the book's release, my father read it, and at lunch we discussed how he remembered people doing that back when he was a kid. It was a nice connection. A definite affirmation that following my gut on this story was the right thing to do!