Sunday, November 11, 2012

San Francisco Island by Randi Hart: Guest Post, Excerpt, Review


By Randi Hart
Natural disasters fascinate me – not so much the death and destruction they leave in their wake, but the story of human suffering which unfortunately accompanies them. We read these stories in the news about people trapped in the rubble of crumbled buildings for three days and we rejoice at the triumphant rescue which saved them, and perhaps we shake our heads in sympathy at the ordeal they have just survived. I wonder, however, if the natural defense mechanisms in our brains prevent us from  being able to really put ourselves in their place, and go an imaginary journey of what they have actually just been through. Moment after long moment, the cycle of utter despair interspersed with moments of hope which keep one going. Let’s face it – even the person who was rescued wants to forget this, much in the same way a mother forgets the pain of childbirth when her infant is placed in her arms for the first time.
I am a new writer. My debut book, San Francisco Island, is my first attempt at writing a disaster story. I felt like exploring what could happen if two close families who are living a cushy life become frustratingly separated by a natural disaster. I chose the west coast of the U.S., where I live, and went with an earthquake story, which of course is the threat we live with in this part of the country. I like the story, although I was cautious with the plot development and did not want to muck up my first story with subplots and human antagonists, keeping the disaster itself as the antagonist.
I am wondering what to write next, and welcome suggestions. Perhaps a tornado story in the mid-west, a hurricane story in the south, or I could stay on the west coast and go with a firestorm. I do want to widen my writing perspective enough in my next effort to maybe throw in some human bad guys and slightly more complicated plots, without overdoing it. Surviving natural disasters is challenging enough! It is the human story of courage in helpless seeming situations which interests me most.
I guess the first thing I should do is start a blog, if I am going to be a writer. Maybe when I have two books under my belt I will get that done. Heck, I don’t even have a Facebook page. I am not going to get one, either! My husband has one, and he lets me know what is happening with family and friends three times every day – sheesh, that’s a bit too much information, don’t you think? Besides, we are happily married and I don’t need ex-boyfriends looking me up through Facebook and possibly creating waves in paradise.
Thanks Laurie for giving me a little space on your wonderful blog! It’s readers like you and your fans who make writing possible for wannabe authors like me. May you all have a blessed and wonderful day.

Living in San Francisco has been wonderful for the Welles and Dyer families, next-door neighbors and best friends who are so close that they are really like one big family. Jim Welles is a successful lawyer, and Bob Dyer is a geologist – a profession which is about to become useful in a way nobody ever wanted it to be.

Their sons are two teenage boys who are scheduled to play in a state championship baseball game Saturday, on the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge. Mother Nature has other plans, however. The families are not the only things that get separated when an earth-shaking event shocks the nation.

In this 44,250 word Novella, Randi Hart tells a story of what it is like to feel helpless and isolated, when people who have been living a perfect, comfortable life are suddenly thrown into the chaotic uncertainty of coping in the wake of a national disaster which is unprecedented in scale.

Back at the Ball Park

Jim was becoming increasingly distraught at not knowing what had happened to Bob, as well as from the strain of keeping Bob’s son calm in spite of emotional instigation by others around them. He was also deeply concerned about his wife and the girls.

            Alameda County Sheriff’s Department arrived in the form of two deputies, to bring what information was available. It was true, San Francisco had broken away from the peninsula and the Oakland-San Francisco and Golden Gate Bridges had broken away as well, causing the city to become a floating island.

            The officers also relayed that reconnaissance planes from all surrounding military bases were in the air trying to establish contact with those in the city – the floating city, as they now referred to it – in particular, the Emergency Management team.

            “We’ve planned and practiced for this for a long time. While it’s true that nothing in the plan accounted for a city becoming isolated, everything in the plan still has to go into operation.” Officer Gerry McCrae looked around at the faces searching to him for answers. “The planes are responsible for determining the general damage in as wide an area as possible. They also look for any fires, possible collapse of high occupancy buildings and sky scrapers, as well as noting roadway damage or blockage. We have to wait for a report from them.”

            Sure, Jim thought. The plan still has to go into operation. What a crock. Probably there is total chaos and no one is in charge any more. He was frustrated, but knew he had to keep himself in control, as the boys were looking to him for guidance on how to react. He reached his hand out to the Officer.

            “Officer, I’m Jim Welles, from San Francisco. My boys are here with me, they were supposed to play in the game today. Do you have any information about the Lake Merritt BART station? One of the boys’ fathers was coming through that way, to meet us here.”

            “Mr. Welles, I only know there has been considerable damage there, and a number of cars were crushed when the overhead ramp came down. I do not know if anyone was in those cars, or what casualties may have occurred. That is a combination overhead and underground station.” The officer shrugged his shoulders as he walked away, obviously not comfortable with the answer he’d given.

            Jim walked toward the boys and asked if they were thirsty, then suggested they all sit down for a minute and reconnect with one another. He was very tired and only half the day was gone, so he could imagine what it would be like by evening.
            “All right guys, let’s put our heads together and talk for a minute, okay? I’ve just spoken with the officer over there, and have no new information, just the same mumbo jumbo we’ve been hearing since the quake. I’m not blaming anyone, you understand” Jim sighed and looked at the boys, realizing they, too, were tired. David was on the verge of tears and Jim reached over to hug him, to pull him close.

3.5 Stars
I absolutely loved the premise of this novella. It follows two families’ adventures in the aftermath of a hugely devastating earthquake. This story is a heart-warming testament to the basic goodness and kindness of people. 
Read my FULL Review on Night Owl Reviews


Hi, I'm Randi. I hope you liked my book. I have spent many wonderful hours walking the streets of San Francisco, but have never lived there. I actually live in Southern California, where it is warmer. We get our share of earthquakes here as well.
I am a bit of a health nut and go running, paddling, or hit the gym almost every day. I try to eat mostly healthy, and buy a lot of organic groceries. When/if the big one hits where I live, being a healthy person may or may not matter. It figures to help in a survival situation, but giant crevices opening in the earth are indiscriminate in whom they swallow up. Come to think of it, maybe I will go out for a burger. I wish you a blessed day.

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