Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Weather in Books
It might sound like a funny topic, but I'm in Brisbane and right now we're under a flood warning. It looks like it will be higher than the 1974 floods, which were supposed to be a one in 100 year event.
I remember the '74 floods. I was visiting my cousin in Dalby (which is currently cut in half by the river) and I was isolated there for a week or so. Being a young teenager I thought it was all very exciting.
My grandmother's mother remembered the flood of 1893, which were apparently higher than the '74 floods. She said the graveyards were washed away and coffins floated down the Brisbane river.
Fast forward to this morning. My son works in the city and his office sent everyone home because they expect the Brisbane River to burst its banks. We've downloaded the maps of the '74 floods and it looks like the end of our road will go under but we'll be OK.
There's been flash flooding in the catchment area for the Brisbane River. One town had an 'inland tsunami' right through the middle of the main street. There are 9 dead and around 60 people missing (figures vary). The Prime Minister has been on the news offering her condolences and promising to send in the army.
Being a writer, it occurred to me that we rarely see extreme weather events in books. You do get storms at sea (I have one in The Outcast Chronicles which I'm working on now), and you'll get the occasional blizzard. I have a fantasy novella doing the rounds at the moment based on research I did of the '54 flood of the Murray river, where the water came up to people's roofs. The flood is integral to the plot. Don't know how the novella will go. They are hard to sell but sometimes a story will be the length it wants to be and there's nothing you can do about it. In King Rolen's Kin, I used snow to shape how the people lived.
Can you think of any books where the weather was used to shape events and characters' actions?