A Case of Fiction Imitating Life

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As I write this post, I’ve been without the internet for four days. A storm blew in and knocked out our tower, an all-important tower that links to a satellite, my only means of internet communication.

Maria is not a happy camper—but she’s gone through worse. (Yes, that’s me climbing the back side of a root ball from a tree that had been wrenched out of the ground.)

When you have to brush your teeth with bottled water and rely on a hand-cranked radio just to hear another human voice, you begin to get some sense of what it is to lose everything in a matter of minutes. The recent tragedies here in the states, Japan and Australia reminded me how lucky I’ve been.

In 2005, Hurricane Rita devastated the entire Gulf Coast of Texas.

Rita tore out entire trees by the roots, taking the underground water lines with them. The fence surrounding our five acres hung on twisted posts, or were buried under trees and debris. Over a hundred pines were snapped in half like toothpicks. The power line to our house lay tangled in tree limbs, and our town was almost entirely deserted by the time we returned from our exodus.

A friend of ours, who had arrived on the scene first, called to tell us we had lost the house. He couldn’t even get into the driveway. Fortunately, he was wrong. The trees were so big they completely buried the house, hiding it from view. But that old ranch house has good bones. All we lost was the roof and some of the foundation.

We got to work as soon as we arrived, clearing brush and moving trees off the house and shop from dawn until dark. When it was too dark to work outside, I cleaned house by lantern light. The worst job of all was emptying and disinfecting the refrigerator and freezers of spoiled food. Not a job for the weak of stomach. I probably used an entire gallon of bleach in the kitchen alone.

It was hellishly hot in east Texas and after the storm passed, we endured a plague of mosquitoes crazed for blood. The standing water had given birth to millions of them. We didn’t even bother swatting them as we tried to coax a 20-year-old generator to come back to life. West Nile virus be damned.

In their rush to leave, many people left behind their pets. (Shame on them!) We were feeding dogs and cats in a steady kibble kitchen procession.

Within the week, utility workers from as far away as Connecticut arrived. They were such a welcome sight. Big smooches to utility workers everywhere. I love you guys.

And God bless the Red Cross. We had to go through so much red tape dealing with various agencies, but the Red Cross waived the damage inspection when my husband explained how primitively we were living. Sharing an old mattress with three dogs and a horde of mosquitoes in the only part of the house that didn’t have a tree over it is primitive by my book. (Because the foundation had shifted, we could no longer shut the doors properly, hence the extra mosquitoes.)

It took a long time to get back to normal. Even today, the landscape looks ragged. But I’m proud (and a little surprised) that we managed without power and water for 21 days. Since then, I don’t take anything for granted because I know how quickly it can be taken from you.

The only benefit of such a tragedy is that you inherit a treasure trove of ideas for future books—especially if you happen to write post-apocalyptic fiction.

In Apocalypse Rising our heroes go back in time—our time. Culture clash is the least of their troubles. Demons, genetic manipulation, and a rash decision could cost Leda more than she can bear. I hope to keep you guessing until the end.

Apocalypse Rising is the sequel to Touch Of Fire, a post-apocalyptic romance set 1200 years in the future. Although you can probably read Apocalypse Rising alone, you’ll have a better understanding of Leda and Grey’s world if you read how it all started in Touch Of Fire first.

And if you’d like to read more about the aftermath of Hurricane Rita and how we managed, starting Wednesday, 5-11-11, I’ll be posting a 3-part account on my blog.


This afternoon, Diane Dooley will take the Carina Press blog chair and share a little bit about her debut release: Blue Galaxy. Be a pal and buy her book, then pop in and say howdy.


Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels.

Apocalypse Rising blurb: The only place to hide was in the past. Leda and Grey have one chance to escape a madman and that’s through a portal to a time before the apocalypse. But nothing has prepared them for 21st century culture, and every misstep draws them closer to the End Times. The world is teetering on extinction, and they may very well be the cause of it.

21 thoughts on “A Case of Fiction Imitating Life”

  1. Amazing inspiration material for your books, Maria, but next time I hope you have less inspiration to work with! :)

    And a huge thank you to you for feeding the abandoned pets. That just tears at your heart.

  2. Cathy in AK says:

    We were without water for 3 days due to frozen pipes and I was sick of it by day 0.5 :P You are much stronger than I, madam.

    Congrats on the release! AP is in my Kindle (vying for “first read” with Blue Galaxy. Decisions, decisions…). Touch of Fire was great, so I’m sure I’ll love the further adventures of Leda and Grey :)

  3. Wow, looks like you had quite a mess on your hands. Apocalypse Rising sounds like it has a lot going on – putting that on my TBR pile.

  4. Diane_Dooley says:

    Ugh, no. I could NOT handle the mosquitoes. I hate them; they love me – passionately.

    Happy release day, Maria. Wish I lived close enough to come help you out. We have an awesome chainsaw!

  5. Great post, Maria. And kudos to you for taking care of the abandoned animals!

  6. Maureen: Amen to that. LOL. That was enough inspiration to last a lifetime.

  7. Cathy: That makes you a veteran. Anything longer than 24 hours is enough to make you very grateful for turning on a tap and getting water.

  8. Wynter: There were a few days when I thought we’d never clean it up.

  9. Diane: LOL! I’ve always hated mosquitoes, then I moved to north Texas and discovered scorpions. I’d rather take the mosquitoes.

  10. Cindy: Thanks for popping in, hon.
    Ref: animals
    I was just glad to see them alive. There were no records of how many died in that hurricane. All we could do was feed the ones that made it. It’s funny how they knew to come to our house.

  11. Wow, Maria. That’s a rough way to get inspired! Congratulations on Apocalypse Rising. Let’s hope all of your books don’t require the same level of inspiration…

  12. Marcelle: Mother Nature is a hard task mistress. Thank you for stopping by!

  13. Cate Masters says:

    People left behind their pets? Unbelievable. I’d sooner get caught up in a tornado. Glad those critters set up a chain of communication to let the hungry ones know!
    Congrats on your release day!

  14. Dru says:

    Nice post and what great inspirations!

  15. Cate: Most shelters don’t allow you to bring your pets into the building. Given that choice, I’ll stay in my car, thank you. I’m not leaving my kids behind.

  16. Dru! How nice of you to stop by. Thank you!

  17. Maria you have “true grit” and pioneer spirit, remind me never to make you my enemy! :-)

    3 days without power due to an Ice Storm when we lived in Humble in the late 90’s, almost a week stranded at home with full power and running water and etc when Lake Houston flooded Hwy 59 on both sides of where we lived and cut off our escape from the area, a lot of years living in an old Victorian in South Texas with a faulty water well which had to be reworked more than it actually pumped water to use and I can say I hope to never go through what you and your husband and the animals did! There is no comparison to that and if you stop and think about it there are still people living in the US that are worse off every day and they somehow survive!

    I am 95% done and Apocalypse Rising is the best one of the three books so far, while I enjoyed the Sci-Fi Romance this series is more my preferred type of reading so Leda and Grey are well worth waiting to revisit!
    Congratulations and when is the next book coming out? LOL

  18. Jackie: My goodness, you’re a fast reader! I’m so glad you’re like Apocalypse Rising. I know it’s a little darker than I normally write.

    The next book? :) When you get to the end you might notice it could go in several directions–but which do I choose?

    Ref: Mother Nature
    I remember that ice storm in the 90s and the other time when Lake Houston flooded. Awful stuff! It does make you appreciate what you have.

    Thank you so much for being so supportive, Jackie. I really appreciate it!

  19. Mother Nature can be brutal sometimes. It teaches us resilience, that’s for sure.
    Maria, I couldn’t leave my pets behind. I just couldn’t.

  20. Hiya, Shelley! So nice to see you here.

    If there’s one thing I can say about that storm, it was indeed a learning experience. Our dogs were so good though. They were a little nervous as the storm was approaching, but when we returned, they romped through the debris like they were in seventh heaven. So much to see, so many new smells.

    If only they could’ve helped us pile the brush. :)

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