Sometimes ideas for book evolve for a long time. That’s certainly true of Thunder Beneath My Feet, my newly published historical adventure for tweens and teens and anyone who enjoys history.
The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 have fascinated me for 30 years. That’s when, as a freelancer, I wrote a short description of the quakes for a textbook. Although I’d grown up in northeast Missouri, I hadn’t realized that some of the most powerful and long-lasting earthquakes on the continent had taken place in southeast Missouri. And may come again.
After moving back to Missouri in 2007, I started thinking about the quakes as a setting for a novel. For several months I read books, websites, and articles in my spare time, fascinated by the people living in and passing through the ambitious little Mississippi River port and how they responded to day after day of terror. Finally facts and creativity gave birth to a plot and characters.
I tell the story from the viewpoint of 15-year-old Betsy Lawton, a shy, sensible girl living on a farm near the village of New Madrid, Upper Louisiana Territory. Her mother must ride south to bring home her ailing husband. She leaves Betsy in charge of the farm and her tale-telling 10-year-old brother. Four days later, the first of the powerful quakes hits, downing buildings and trees and demolishing boats on the river. Betsy must contend with the terrifying shocks and shakes, an unknown thief, and frantic community members to save herself, Johnnie, the farm animals, and four strangers with deep secrets.
To read more about the book and the first chapter, go to this website’s Thunder Beneath My Feet page. Better still, ask your local library to order it or buy your own copy.