by Nikki Logan
So...not really sure what happened over at Romance central (Harlequin HQ) but somehow my reader letter and dedication for my March release 'Mr Right at the Wrong Time' managed to not make it into the final book.
I'm religious about getting these in because every book has a story-behind-the-story and a handful of people who have earned special thanks in its creation. So I thought I'd use my blog today to thank those people and tell that story...
It's timely because the one year anniversaries of both the 2011 Queensland floods and the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes happened very recently, so disasters are still very fresh in a lot of minds, including my fellow LoveCats, some of whom were personally touched by the tragedies.
To the families who lost something—or everything—in Queensland and Christchurch in 2011. The amazing efforts of the emergency personnel who helped you inspired this book.
And to ‘our’ Aimee Leigh — hold out for love. Make it count.
Thank you to Rachel Bailey and Kylie Griffin for your unique perspectives on both sides of an emergency rescue situation.
And this would have been my reader letter...
This book was easy and hard to write in equal measures.
It came to me as I was sitting, teary-eyed and captivated, watching the rescue efforts following the 2011 earthquake in New Zealand. There, an emergency services volunteer spent long, painful hours stretched out across a slab of rubble on the exterior of a collapsed building being the fingers-and-voice lifeline for an office worker trapped beneath the mountain of debris. A woman we only ever knew as ‘Anne’. She—and he—became the public face of that crisis.
It highlighted the powerful relationship that rescuers can have with victims of tragedy, particularly because the outcomes are never certain right up until the moment they are pulled from danger. The weight of the responsibility they must feel, how torn between empowering victims with the awful truth of their situation and lying to keep them sane. Those hours together would be so surreal.
And so I wanted to explore what would happen after the crisis is over—where the real world and all its day-to-day issues intrudes. And I threw a real obstacle into the mix.
It would be so easy to walk away from that kind of emotion and chalk it up to the forced intimacy of the rescue.
The second part of this book really challenged me, and you’ll understand why when you get there. It challenged me to think outside of my own values, to really immerse myself in my characters’ situation, to truly empathise.
For all kinds of reasons Aimee and Sam’s is not a situation I’d ever like to find myself in, but I’ll take their happy-ever-after any day.
Perfect, hard-won love of two imperfect people.
(Actually now that I look at it, maybe it didn't go in because it was really rather long! *cough*)
I'll be posting Sam and Aimee's first kiss this Sunday in the LoveCats SUNDAY SMOOCH if you'd like to come and get more of a feel for their story.
Do you have to pull the plug on the television and throw your wireless internet into the bottom of a deep drawer when national crises are happening? Can you walk away? Or do you become glued to the television/internet awash in a cocktail of empathetic chemicals that surge when we witness terrible situations unfolding? Or are you someone who would have given anything to *only* be experiencing it on TV? I'd love to hear your stories if you're able to share.
Nikki, thank you so much for your acknowledgment on your D&A page of MR RIGHT AT THE WRONG TIME - have to admit to being surprised/shocked to see my name there. A very special gesture thank you! :-)ReplyDelete
As for watching TV during these times I find it hard and emotionally wrenching to view live footage because I can too easily imagine what the casualties or emergency service workers are going through having been on both sides of the fence.
Thank goodness, I've only been in one serious emergency as a casualty - a bus smash between a school bus & a truck (as a kid) and that was terrifying. Being hurt and waiting for help is agonising. Knowing that others are hurt too and being unable to help was also just as awful.
I have no doubt that this experience influenced my decision later in life to assist in my volunteering with the Rural Fire service, State Emergency Service and as a Community First Responder ambo officer.
When I hear of natural disasters such as the Queenslands floods, the Thredbo landslide, or Christchurch earthquake my first reaction is to want to be there & help.
I think I'd rather be doing something as opposed to watching - not in the glory hound type of way but so I can use the skills I've learned in a practical way rather than sit around feeling helpless - does that make sense?
For example, several years ago there were some really bad bushfires in and around the National Park gorges near Armidale, NSW. While the NSW National Parks & Wildlife had their own firefighters the SES were called in as a support agency, to provide welfare to them (ie.cook meals). I led a team of 5 and we spend four days in a bushwalker self-contained cabin ordering supplies to be brought in by helicopter, cooking 3 meals a day for anywhere between 70-100 firefighters. I wasn't on the front line but plenty busy helping in the background.
And yes, here's a plug for volunteering for anyone who's ever thought they'd like to help but don't know where to start. :-)
There are plenty of organisations out there that help in the background - Salvation Army, Lions, Rotary, CWA, etc. or if you want to learn some valuable skills and be in the thick of things then visit your local RFS, SES, CFR, Volunteer Rescue Association, or become first aid trained.
:-) Sorry, Nikki, couldn't help myself!
Nikki, I will never forget the day of the earthquake and the fear for our daughter and friends, the horror for all Cantabrians going through what, thankfully, for most of us is not something we'll experience. I sat in front of the TV crying for all those people, including the ones you mentioned, holding the phone waiting for contact with Hannah and yet knowing she couldn't call as the phones were out. I desperately wanted to go and help but we kept being told that we'd only stretch already stretched resources. Hard to feel so useless.ReplyDelete
The Queensalnd floods had a similar effect on me. So much destruction, so many brave and giving people. We really do share this world with some wonderful people.
Nikki, that's a fabulous reader's letter. Sorry they didn't get it in but I'm sure the amazing story inside the covers will more than make up for it. And that story truly does sound amazing!ReplyDelete
There are days we all remember. The most unbelievable was 9/11. But the time of world crisis I'll remember perhaps even more was the first Gulf War. I'd just given birth to my first child, a beautiful baby girl I loved more than I knew anyone *could* love. Then news broke of a war that had erupted thousands of miles away - but who knew when or how it would end?
I remember stinging tears coming to my eyes as I held my baby tight and understood real fear. And that was me. Here. I can't imagine how all those mothers over there felt. Anyone, for that matter, who has gone through, or is going through, a war.
Kylie - you go right ahead and plug all you want. For everyone else's benefit, I wrote to Kylie with a few questions and she send me reams of info back from her own personal experience, including links to images and equipment descriptiosn etc. It really made my job *so* much easier.ReplyDelete
Kylie - i would have loved to send you a copy of the book with your name in the acknowledgements, I may yet have the chance when the US copy (eventually) comes out.
But I really liked this part of what you just said - 'Knowing that others are hurt too and being unable to help was also just as awful'
I think it says a lot about you that, even as a little kid, hurt and scared in a crash you were worried about the other kids who were hurt. You're good people.
Sue, thank you for sharing your difficult experience. I think you've hit the nail on the head re: uselessness. Doing something--anything--helps you to be calm. It's hard to know whether all the telecasts make things better (ie: being informed) or really make things worse (being over-informed). Maybe some things are best left unshared.ReplyDelete
I'm glad everything worked out okay for Hannah in the end.
Yes Robyn - that moment when you must have looked down into her face and thought 'what kind of a world have I brought you into?'ReplyDelete
I think the Gulf War was the first of the 'televised' wars wasn't it. I remember the news services used to delight in showing footage of the missiles that had cameras on them and they'd show everything until they hit some target and went black. I used to *hate* seeing that. All I could think about was the lives...
But there are flipside moments with the televising -- rescues, retrievals, reunited people, all the lovely animal moments with big burly bearded blokes in dingys leading a cow and two horses swimming behind to higher land. They do help to offset the dread.
A beautiful letter and dedication, Nikki. What a shame they didn't get into the books.ReplyDelete
I do get caught by the television coverage and feel that rollercoaster cocktail of emotion that comes with the powerlessness to "do" anything concrete to help. My heart goes out to the people who are hurt and I feel so oddly proud of those on the ground actually helping. Donating money seems like such a small gesture at times like these but it is a way to help get the materials that are needed on the ground.
Kylie, excellent plug for first aid! I finally renewed my training late last year - my, how things had changed!
Wow, that's a powerful author letter, Nikki! It's heart-stopping and heart-rending watching the coverage of events like the Chch earthquake. The rescuers truly are heroes. I can't wait to read Mr Right and the Wrong Time.ReplyDelete
I wasn't anywhere near my tv set when 9/11 was happening - up to my eyes with work as I was with a baby and two other little 'uns. I heard about the terrible events only the next day. But believe me, I felt deeply about it. It was the same with the south Asian tsunamis which lashed India (where I happen to live). I caught up, though. Believe me, I feel that what effects one of us affects us all. I can't be indifferent. Someone else's disaster on tv today could be mine tomorrow. We'd be fools to think otherwise. We live in a dangerous world.ReplyDelete
We should enjoy every good moment and not live in fear. We should also be ready to support others whatever way possible when disaster strikes them.
Your book sounds great. Will be looking out for it.
When 75% of QLD was awash last year, I had the news channel on at all times. I have family & friends throughout QLD , so we were all affected. I live in Toowoomba. One of the creeks that roared through town is at the bottom of my street. My neighbours & I were joyous at surviving the storm cell that sat over town for over an hour. It was only later we heard of massive rescues & a Mother & child swept away on the next corner. It never occurred to us that the water had to go somewhere & it hit us all hard when we heard that Grantham was practically wiped off the map. I could not NOT watch the news.ReplyDelete
great letter and dedication ;)
when i saw a crisis, earthquake, flood, volcano ouch.. why all this disaster have to happen and i will pray to God and hope we all can through this tragedy.
A gorgeous reader letter and dedication, Nikki - I hope they make it into the US edition!ReplyDelete
Aw, Nikki, thank you for the mention! I remember you writing that book in the little lighthouse cottage on our retreat - and I was writing What Happens in Charleston.ReplyDelete
The dresses in the scene where Matthew is buying Susannah a dress to wear to an event in What Happens in Charleston are all from the fabulous Nikki Logan. In future, I always want to room with someone who can conjure dress styles and colours on demand!
I was glued to the TV during the floods and the Christchurch earthquake. I have total respect for Kylie Griffin and the other rescue workers. As Nikki said, you're good people, Kylie.
Nikki ~ It is a shame that letter never made it into the book. I don't watch much TV but I do watch the news when there is a reason like a disaster. I was glued to the TV on 9/11. I also watched the rescue of the miners in South America and the tsunami in Japan. We didn't have too much TV coverage last year of your earthquake or floods but Google provided me with a lot of footage. I couldn't believe what was happening. It is a lot more heartbreaking when you know people in the area. I kept a list of authors who were safe and prayed that the ones I hadn't heard about were safe as well.ReplyDelete
Sharon - 'my how things had changed'.ReplyDelete
I know! And it changes from one year to the next. But have to say I feel like I'd do much better with a straight-forward 30-pumps/1-breath CPR.
Em - I'd so like to hear about 'Anne' a year on. I wonder how she got over her experience... Hope you enjoy it!ReplyDelete
Maria - "Someone else's disaster on tv today could be mine tomorrow." It's true. Every single person in disasters are just ordinary people going about their business...ReplyDelete
And yep, not wasting a moment is a big lesson I take from those events. And telling people how I feel. And hugging those that I love.
So lovely to see you here.
Oh Marybelle, what a very close call for you and so very awful about the mother & child one street over. So in your case the livecasting was a blessing to help you stay informed... That was something that QLD did so very well...ReplyDelete
Hi Eli, thank you. Yes, it's sometimes hard to understand the 'why' of things like that. But then you see some of the amazing stories of courage and compassion and you realise that for all the bad stuff there's still a lot of good...ReplyDelete
Leah - thanks. Me too!ReplyDelete
Rach - I remember that dress!! Yay that it made it into Charleston :) One of the best things about knowing such a diverse bunch of writers is that someone, somewhere will always know about the thing you need info on.
(Tho my family would be v surprised to know that I helped with a fashion decision - LOL).
Kaelee - "I kept a list of authors who were safe..."ReplyDelete
Wow, what a great idea. I remember being really pleased when someone who could post to a loop got on just to say "such'n'such is wet but fine". It made it so easy to tick off those friends and acquaintences.
So much good comes out of those bad moments.
That's a gorgeous dedication and reader letter, Nikki. What a shame they didn't make it into the book.ReplyDelete
It's terribly difficult to watch national and international crises occurring, but I find ignorance is worse. I have a vivid memory of sitting in my bedsit in London and watching the horrific coverage of the Victorian Black Saturday bush fires and just feeling sick that I wasn't home in Australia. Not that I could've done anything if I had been -- I mean I live in NSW for heaven's sake -- but it seemed wrong to be so far away when something so dreadful was happening.
Kylie, I think you are amazing!
Hi Nikki, that's such a nice dedication, can it be put in the next book perhaps?ReplyDelete
Michelle - yes, the powerlessness again, and so far from home. Strong emotion there (and now another book idea is bubbling...:) )ReplyDelete
Tash - thank you, lovely to see you here. I'm hoping it will make it into another edition of the same book (so it's read in context).
THANKS EVERYONE FOR A GREAT RESPONSE. XXX