SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read What Happened in Granite Creek, do not proceed any further! You’ve been warned!
I want to talk about an event that happens in the book, because it’s based on a real one.
Koty disappears on the eve of an ice storm. This ice storm was a real event, one that affected New England in December of 2008.
I live in Framingham, Massachusetts, which is about 20 miles west of Boston. My town was spared the brunt of this storm: we didn’t lose power, and it wasn’t ice (it was mostly rain, I think…maybe a little snow). But to the west and north of me, oh man! It was a different story, a different world even: everything was encased in ice. Power was out in some places for over a week. Roads were impassable. Trees were down. It was a MESS, it made national headlines, and it dominated the news in this area for quite some time.
Somewhere along the way, this ice storm got stuck in my head. It seemed like a perfect time for something devious to happen: someone goes missing, but because of all the confusion that results from lost power, cut phone lines, and isolated residents, precious time and clues are lost. I knew even then that I’d somehow use the storm at some point in some story. It became clear when I sat down to work on the draft of What Happened in Granite Creek a year and a half later that I had a ready-made, realistic event from which to draw.
Obviously, I’m not the first writer to do this…so many books and films are inspired by real events or use real events as a backdrop or as an inciting incident. The Grapes of Wrath (the Dust Bowl), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Hurricane Katrina), and The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III (9/11) all come to mind.
I’m sure you can think of others: share in the comments.