Monday, September 09, 2019

On Hurricanes, Book Launches, and Anticipation

I’ve mentioned in the past, that my wife and I live on a barrier island on the coast of North Carolina. Not officially one of the Outer Banks. We’re just south of there, jutting out from the mainland facing south. You can consider us a speed bump for hurricanes racing up the coastline.

Except Hurricane Dorian didn’t race. It crawled. From the time we first heard about it, to the time it battered the Bahamas with Category 5 winds, to where it appeared it was going to slam into Florida, then it crept up the east coast—it took days. Someone described it as being stalked by a turtle.

For us on our island, the storm track was alarming. The weather experts forecast that it would go north, hugging the coast, right up until it got to us. Either it would miss us by a whisper, or it would hit us dead on.

We didn’t get the direct hit. But we were slapped with ninety mph winds and driving rain, enough to knock out power, down trees, and damage roofs. The Outer Banks, just north of us, weren’t so lucky. Especially Ocracoke Island which was seriously flooded.

We weathered the storm with a group of die hard neighbors. We always assess what the danger is and decide to stay or to evacuate. We stayed and we are fine. We have power and internet and little structural damage. However, many others in our county can’t say the same.

The damage left behind by these storms is heartbreaking. We are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Florence. There are still many families that are displaced from their homes and hotels and businesses still under repair, and psyches are fragile.

As you may know, my newest book, Graveyard Bay, is being released on September 10. I was supposed to fly to Scottsdale for a book launch event on Monday, September 9, in Scottsdale at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore.

I asked my publisher to reschedule because a storm like Dorian doesn’t just come and go. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. It’ll be days or weeks before many businesses reopen. It’ll take even longer to clean up the storm debris. Both Poisoned Pen Press and Sourcebooks graciously have rescheduled my appearance in Arizona to take place September 29.

I say all of this to talk about anticipation. I’ve been anticipating the launch of my new book for months. The wait is agonizing. You wonder if you’ll get favorable reviews, if readers will like your book or even buy it.

Even worse was the anticipation for Hurricane Dorian. We saw what it did in the Bahamas. It was coming at us as a Category 2, but then somewhere off the coast of Georgia, strengthened to a Cat 3. Would it continue to strengthen? Would we take a direct hit as many predicted?

Since we talk about writing here in Type M for Murder, keep in mind how anticipation builds tension in a book, amplifies concern, and ramps up fear. Don’t give away too much too soon.

Because I’ve only had power back on for less than twelve hours and watched our internet flicker back to life only just this morning, this blog will be very brief.

My first book signing for Graveyard Bay will be here in Carteret County, on the patio of Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant in Morehead City on Friday the 13, from 5pm to 7pm. Floyd’s is a perfect choice because almost exactly a year ago to that day, it was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Florence. But now it’s back and survived the battering that Dorian gave us. The perfect place to launch!


Tom Burns said...

Glad you guys made it through Dorian unscathed and happy to meet yet another mystery writer here in NC. We live in Wendell, near Raleigh, and Dorian was a non-event for us, although my wife and son did get two days off work and school for another long weekend. Re your metaphor about writing - I've seen too many books that build anticipation very well, but fail to deliver on the promises they made. That gun you put out there in the first act better go off in the third.

Thomas Kies said...

Tom Burns, you're right. Writing is like life, don't make promises you can't keep. That gun has to go off!

Sybil Johnson said...

I'm glad you guys are okay. Dorian sounded like it was bad. See, this is why I'd rather have earthquakes. :-> Now I've done it. Probably have a bad one now.