Facing Down a Tornado

There’s a scene in my novel (now available, by the way!), in which the main character runs into a tornado while running a 100-mile race.


IIlustration from an early version of the novel

That’s Quinn, the main character, running along the shore of Hither Lake. Hailstones were crashing down around him, “like rocks in a blender.”

I included this extreme weather in the story because I once experienced a tornado while hanging out at my family cottage in Ontario. Nobody got hurt, but our nerves sure got frayed. Trees broke in two. We lost power for weeks.

This past summer, we had another tornado warning. My brother, The Photographer, caught the threatening skies on film. Here’s what the lake actually looked like.

Tornado warning

The Three Most Amazing Things I Ever Saw

Thirteen years ago, I saw an incredible thing.  A chipmunk swimming across a river.

Swimming chipmunk..

I thought that chipmunk was so amazing, I put her in my novel.  You can do that sort of thing if you’re lucky enough to write books.

The second most amazing thing I ever saw was a silver rainbow.  What is a silver rainbow?  GLAD YOU ASKED!

As you know, normal rainbows occur when the sun shines during a rainstorm. Silver rainbows are the same, only they happen at night.  A full moon comes out from between the clouds, and throws its ghostly light through the curtain of rain.

I thought it was so beautiful and strange, I put that silver rainbow into my novel too.  You can read all about it when the book comes out in September.

The third most amazing thing I ever saw was a tornado.  Actually, I didn’t see the tornado.  Like the silver rainbow, it came at night, when it was too dark to see much of anything.  But I heard it alright.

I was visiting my family’s cabin, which overlooks a long, narrow lake in central Ontario.  The whole family was there, and we were wide awake and terrified. The tornado raced up the lake with a papery sound.  As it came closer, it began to scream.  Finally, like a bulldozer, it crashed into the forest beside the cabin.  The trees thrashed, yanking at their roots.  Branches smashed against the windows like ice cubes in a blender.

I put that tornado into my novel too.  I even drew a picture of it.


I’m not a great artist, but you get the idea.  That’s the main character in my book, trying to outrun the tornado.

Everything else in my novel is completely made up, but that chipmunk, that tornado, and the silver rainbow are totally real.