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Boxing the Octopus: all content copyright 2008 Colleen Thompson and Joni Rodgers all rights reserved.
Hunker down, East Coast! We on the Gulf Coast feel your pain. A hurricane is an incredible experience. Scary, fascinating, beautiful, terrible and (pardon the pun) mind-blowing.
When Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, my husband and I were among the volunteers who helped care for evacuees arriving at mass shelters in Houston. As I carried water to the long lines, a weary New Orleans police officer said to me, "This is a great day for news people and con artists." I was instantly smacked by the story hammer, and that initial inspiration evolved as I wrote, revised and did serious deep-dive research between ghost projects over the next five years.
Set on the Gulf Coast during the epic hurricane season of 2005, The Hurricane Lover is a tale of two cities, two families, and two people who find each other in a storm. A firebrand environmentalist from New Orleans and the whip-smart, self-determined daughter of a Houston oil baron come together to track a con artist who's using hurricanes as a cover for identity theft and murder. Hurricane Katrina is the perfect storm for the perfect crime. In her wake are twisted sisters Ophelia and Rita. The summer goes down in history for its mega-storms, oppressive heat, disaster management goat screw and polarized politics. The stormy relationship and complicated Southern families at the heart of The Hurricane Lover make it personal.
I set out to write a fast-paced, character-driven story with a strong atmosphere (think Lisa Unger/ Michael Crichton love child raised on the Gulf Coast by James Sallis) woven with the fascinating science of these real life mega-storms, along with actual email (made public through the US Freedom of Information Act) to and from FEMA director Michael "Heck of a job, Brownie!" Brown, President George Bush and others involved in the abysmal government response to Hurricane Katrina. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when Hurricane Ike decimated Galveston and Houston in 2008. At the height of the storm, I couldn't resist; I had to go outside. It's nothing I could have imagined - or written about - without experiencing it.
The Hurricane Lover is a grand experiment for me. After three novels and several nonfiction bestsellers with Big 6 publishers, I'm doing this novel as an indie ebook that will transition to a traditional print deal. I'm convinced that hybrid publishing is the way forward for career authors, with upsides for us, our agents, publishers and - most important - readers.
Now, if I could just decide on which of these two covers to use! (Let me know what you think.)