Hi Susanne! Thank you for having me on the blog. I thought I’d write about what inspired me to write BRICKS. Most of the stories/books I write start with a idea—a “what if…?” BRICKS was a little bit different.
On May 19, 2013, a tornado swept through my hometown of Moore, Oklahoma. Having lived in Oklahoma my whole life, I’m no stranger to tornados. I helped friends dig out from storms in 99’ and 03’. But nothing was like the one that came through that late May day.
We knew there was a strong possibility of a big storm, and with my job working for the school district we were all on alert. When the sirens sounded, we abandoned a smaller building my department occupied to make our way into the larger one. I went about setting up several projectors and large tv’s we had to allow people to see what was going on. I honestly didn’t think too much about it until it started hitting landmarks we knew.
By the time it hit the building we were in, it had swept through the neighborhood of our first home; destroyed the school where my son had first attended; leveled the elementary school I attended; wiped out a large part of the neighborhood I grew up in, and hit the junior high my daughter attended. When we came out of the building, I saw the building my department occupied had been destroyed—a boat sat in the front lobby. My truck lay upside down on the roof.
Luckily, my wife had already picked up my daughter from the junior high, so I walked about a half mile to get my son. Because I had some documents the school district needed, we walked more than ten miles that night. It was very surreal.
As we walked, I saw people pulling suitcases with whatever they could salvage thrown over the shoulders. Their faces were expressionless, and though I had no idea where they were going, I felt for the long journey that lay ahead of them.
It was several weeks later as we were watching the Wizard of Oz that the idea came to me for BRICKS. I began to think of the storm in terms of Oz—people had their hearts torn out. Some wanted to forget. Some were afraid. But most all just wanted to go home—wherever home may be. And behind it all was a witch—an EF5 tornado.
In many ways, the story was too close to home, and I wasn’t sure if I could tell it. However, a twenty-hour vacation drive to New York inspired me. Some of the best writing time isn’t filled with writing at all. By the time we arrived, I had the story fanned out in my head. I wrote the first chapter the day we arrived, and continued to flesh out the details in my mind. I guess it was fitting that we’d gotten tickets to Wicked. After another twenty-hour drive home, I had the story ready to go. It was the fastest first draft I’ve ever written.
BRICKS is really about weathering life’s storms, but not by rebuilding. What we build and rebuild can be destroyed. It’s about keeping on—refusing to give up. In life, bricks do construct buildings, but they also form roads, like the one Dorothy and her friends traveled. Those roads might lead you to the other side of the rainbow, but the most important part is being willing to get there—to be willing to find the abundant life that is waiting out there and enjoying the journey.
Thanks John. Best wishes for the success of your book.
Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn’t know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated.
Release Date: February 3, 2015
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Married to my bride for twenty-four years, I have an amazing son and a wonderful daughter.
Born and raised in central Oklahoma, I work in education, first as a teacher now in technology curriculum. I write. I read. And in the summer I make snow cones.