by Lynn Hobbs
Remember the wildfires of Texas during 2011? I lived through them as did many of my friends. When the fires came within two miles of my home, I had to evacuate. Later, after fire lanes were dug and officials cleared everyone in my neighborhood to return home; I carried important belongings with me for weeks in the trunk of my car. I knew firsthand the scary feeling of scanning the horizon daily for the yellowish-gray smoke of new wildfires…and they popped up constantly. The drought and record heat were awful. I had completed the first book in my Running Forward Series and was strongly led to include the fires in my second book, River Town.
Wanting my main character to experience this period in time demanded extensive research on my part. I never missed the news on television, and saved all local newspapers; underlining the names of victims and survivors. Journaling, I made a list of each fire in order of occurrence, the damage, location, and name of the closest town.
During these months, deputies returned to block off our area again. A home was burning three miles away. It didn’t have a chance against fast moving wildfires on a dry, windy day. I knew the family, and my heart ached for them. The deputy informed us that whenever you see black, billowing smoke it is usually a house fire. The black smoke is the toxins burning.
Thankfully, help poured out for those who lost everything. The firefighters were to be commended. At times several fires broke out daily. Although hot, and weary, they worked hard day and night. Their efforts were not in vain, very few homes were lost.
Naturally, I visited the Texas Forest Service in both Marshall and Linden, Texas. They provided me with statistics on total acreage, structures, and homes destroyed. I thought I had enough information for my readers to weave it into my story with other issues my main character would encounter.
While buying groceries, a man approached me that I hadn’t seen in a while. He began relating how his home burnt in a fire. No one was injured. Within minutes, a woman joined us and told what it was like to see nothing but thick white smoke surround her house. She and her husband had refused to evacuate, and were hosing down their house. Suddenly, a wall of fire leapt from the smoke over sixty feet tall, and they were trapped. We three hugged, and gave thanks to God for their survival. That’s when I realized I needed to add those facts to my story.
I asked both of them if I could have my characters experience what they did.
They gladly agreed.
Later, I organized each chapter by date and included other parts of the continuing story showing moral values. I highly recommend incorporating something real into your fiction. It doesn’t have to be weather related, but it will give a whole new outlook to your readers.
Lynn Hobbs is the author of the Running Forward Series; a powerful faith and family saga, and publisher with Desert Coyote Productions. Her books are:
#1: Sin, Secrets, and Salvation, awarded 1st place, Religious Fiction, 2013, Texas Association of Authors.
#2: River Town, 1st place, Religious Fiction, 2014, TAA.
#3: Hidden Creek.
You can find Lynn on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Twitter: @LynnHobbsAuthor and at http://www.LynnHobbsAuthor.com.