Back in July 2003, I had my first article published in a national magazine, Lighthouse Digest. (I was so pleased to find it in their online archives.) The first line: “When 120 mph winds and torrential rains pounded the Gulf of Mexico in August of 1915, over 60 people took refuge inside the Bolivar Lighthouse.”
The image of those people, climbing up the lighthouse’s spiral staircase to escape the rising water has haunted me for more than a decade. Rising water and Gulf Coast storms even managed to make their way into my middle grade steampunk manuscript as a subplot. After many, many revisions, I’m now in the process of submitting the story to agents and hoping that one will be as intrigued by it as I am.
I’ve put time and effort into the manuscript, but now I have no control over those gatekeepers making editorial decisions. So, it’s time to move on to another story. Something that’s been waiting patiently in the back of my mind until the timing was right.
Today, I’ve been thinking about another natural disaster: the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. It plays a key component in my picture book about sourdough bread. I found this archival footage of Market Street just a few days before and after the disaster. Notice how eerie the devastated city looks in the film.