Monday, July 28, 2008
I'm writing a sequel to BLUE. I think it is about to go into production. If I get my revisions done.
While researching for the sequel, I discovered a news article in my local paper about a day (July 28, 1945) when a B-25 Bomber crashed into the Empire State Building.
Because it had echoes of 9-11 and because it fit into my story I used it in my sequel. It sets the stage for another devastating radio announcement, as you can see in this excerpt.
One thing my daddy prayed for at every meal was the end of the war. Listening to him ask for it—so soft and sincere—always made me feel like it would happen. And soon.
Well, I just didn’t know how soon when I sat down to dinner that day in August. Quick as Daddy got done praying, Ellie jumped up and switched on the radio. At first after Junior give us that radio we mostly listened in the evenings. We’d sit in the living room. Sometimes me and Momma would fold the wash and Ida and Ellie would match up the socks. And Daddy would carve little animal shapes out of wood.
But that was before a foggy July morning in New York City when an American army bomber accidentally crashed into the Empire State Building. Eleven floors caught fire and fifteen people died. It was such big news that Daddy had turned on the radio right in the middle of the day. And left it on all afternoon.
After that, the rules about listening to the radio didn’t apply. Daddy moved it into the kitchen so we could hear it while we canned beans. It stayed on alot.
Today I climbed into my car and turned on the radio. (NPR - Is there anything else?) Michele Norris and Melissa Block of "All Things Considered" were in the midst of a story in which a woman was talking about her father jumping from the 79th floor.
At first I thought it was a 9-11 story. And then came the characteristic staccato anchor voice of the 1940's and I realized what I was hearing.
It floored me that I was hearing the same newscast that Ann Fay and her family heard. Instead of driving up to the ATM machine for some quick cash I pulled into a parking space and indulged myself in this radio drama. It was a small, yet hugely important gift to me as I struggle with revisions.
I love primary source material. Finding it in written form is relatively easy. But excavating audios like this is not something I've learned to do just yet. I don't even know if such things are available to the average historical novelist. (Ah, a question for Dear Editor!)
Meanwhile I'm going back to my revisions which should be truly inspired now that I've been transported back 63 years to a day in the life of my character!
P.S. Arthur Weingarten tells the story of the crash in his 1977 book, The Sky Is Falling. Run - don't walk - to Amazon.com where there are only two copies available at the time of this blogpost.