I love writing historical fiction because of the research element involved. I'm a bit of a research nerd! I love to build a fictional story on a framework of facts, weaving the characters in and out of real historical events.
The following excerpts are from a yet-to-be-published manuscript entitled Nothing Left But Dust which centers around the 1906 earthquake and fires in San Francisco.
It rolled in from the southwest like a stampede of wild horses. It struck with such intensity and purpose, it was as if the earth were a beast that had been caged for an eternity and it had just broken free. It was barbarous and bloodthirsty and had no remorse to speak of.
Jo careened into the air like a rag doll. She woke up and felt as if she were in a bad dream. She tried to steady herself, but instead, she bounced in her bed like a fish in a frying pan.
The earthquake pitched her side to side and then dropped her to the floor. She thought to herself that if this wasn’t a dream, that it was the end. It would surely be lights out any moment now.
A momentary lull brought Jo up to her knees. Her debilitating horror morphed into morbid fascination as she catapulted herself over splintered furniture toward the window. She clutched the windowsill rigidly. She couldn’t tell if the shaking was winding down or...
Then as if the creature had drawn breath for a second wind, the quake jolted her again with a brutal vengeance, even more violent than before. From all around her, Jo listened as the rattling of dishes, cracking of timber and smashing of glass harmonized in wild cacophony until it surged into an opera of utter cataclysm.
The green light of dawn illuminated a staggering scene. Jo witnessed the entire row of wooden buildings across the street swing forward, folding into one another like a deck of cards.
Her house. The one she shared with Papa, Mama, and baby Peter, gone. In an instant.
She knew it was only a matter of time before the house she was in toppled too. Instinct told her that the street would be the safest place to be. She looked downward and thought for a moment about jumping out the window. Before she could convince her arms to latch onto the window frame and pull herself up, a plume of dust mushroomed upward causing her to retreat back into the room.
Jo coughed as she headed for the door, stepping on a piece of broken glass from the teacup. She threw herself onto the bed and did the best she could to remove the glass. Blood now covering her foot, Jo fought against the shaking to jump into her boots, not bothering to lace them. In a rush of urgency, she remembered her pearl. Then it was all she could think about. She had to get it. She grabbed ahold of the doorknob to the office, but it was stuck. She pushed and pulled, but the frame had warped so badly that it wouldn’t budge.
With a howl and a whirl, the quake came to its poignant climax. A violent twist and the floor from underneath Jo’s feet dropped once, then twice.
Crack! Still clutching the door handle, Jo felt a sudden push as debris piled on top of her and forced her to the ground. The darkness took hold and all went silent.