Thursday’s Children February 14, 2013

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

Inspired by blizzards, and local history…

Last week I lost track of time and had to scramble to get my TC post up. This week Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse/Nemo made it virtually impossible to leave my house for the two days of the storm, except to shovel and drag my reluctant doggies outside to do their business.

I’ll be going stir-crazy by Monday, just itching to fly the coop. So, I ‘m actually writing this on Saturday the 9th.

Storms make for great writing opportunities within stories too. They’re dramatic. Primal. The wind screeches and trees snap-and if you live by the ocean, the waves roar like a raging sea monster. Bad weather forces people out of their comfortable routines and behavior patterns. The isolation of a storm may lead some to feel more vulnerable, and some to feel less accountable. Being trapped in a house by a Nor’easter is akin to being marooned on an island. It’s just you and the people trapped with you, or with whom you are trapped.

Tension builds. Anything could happen. 

In 1978, a very dramatic incident happened at Goat Island Light, which is about three miles down the road from where I now live. Here’s a photo from the late 19th or early 20th century. I’m not sure when the one below it was taken, though clearly it was taken after the invention of airplanes!


US Coast Guard Photo

US Coast Guard Photo

Below are photos of Goat Island Light taken this past weekend by their webcam.  That tall white structure is the new fog bell tower. You’ll be relieved to know the lighthouse is no longer “manned”, because in the middle photo all that black stuff is sea water that’s breached the rocky base of the island. As is the foamy white stuff in the last photo.


goat island stationjpg


The passageway on the right connects the lightkeeper’s house to the lighthouse, which is out of view in the picture above.  The passageway is quite new. It wasn’t the first one to be built.

Back to 1978, or more specifically the Blizzard of ’78.

Martin Cain was the lightkeeper at that time. He had just stepped from the passageway into the kitchen when the entire passageway was swept out to sea. I used that incident in my book TENDRIL (but with different characters, a hurricane not a blizzard, and a different, fictional lighthouse). In real life, a rescue helicopter came to evacuate the Cain family, but there was room for only one adult and one child. Martin’s wife took the baby, leaving her husband and two year old son behind. Can you even imagine?

By the way, many claim the lighthouse is haunted by its last resident lightkeeper, who died in 1992. Presumably a rogue wave capsized his boat when he was a short distance from home. But that’s another story…

A few days ago, on neighboring Vaughn Island, human bones were found by a person walking his dog. They may belong to the college students who went missing just before Christmas. Some of their clothing was found on Goat Island, shortly after their disappearance. The bones were found above the usual high tide mark, probably deposited there by the the thirty foot seas we had during the storm.

Yet another tragic and mysterious story…

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer Portland Press Herald

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer
Portland Press Herald

Are there any events from local history that have inspired your writing?

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27 thoughts on “Thursday’s Children February 14, 2013

  1. Love. Love. Love storms. Snow or rain. I can write all day without being bothered by temptation of wandering. Well, I can only actually sit for five hours, max.
    These photos are lovely. Nice that you could find the vintage one. You’re making me want to do my snow dance. But don’t think it’ll help this time with the temp in NYC climbing to 50F. There’s next winter. Mmm.

  2. I adore storms! And I think I would be even happier if I could experience storms near the ocean. That just sounds like heaven to me. Well, minus the shoveling. 😉

    I love these photos. Lighthouses fascinate me. Michigan is crawling with them, and I try to visit a few every summer. You’ve inspired me – I think there will be some TC posts in my future about inspiring local history!

  3. I knew there was a reason lighthouses spooked me! But I love storms. Not the cold, blizzardy kind with frigid monster waves, but summer thunderstorms in the deep south that turn everything electric green. Those have inspired some of my writing 😉

  4. Wow what a great setting – and such good real life fodder for stories. I love atmospheric lighthouses and a good storm.

    So sorry you’re over the snow – we’re in the middle of a beautiful summer right now – so will send the sun fairies in your direction. Hope it improves!

  5. We just had a MASSIVE snowstorm last Friday (probably the same one that snowed you in), so yeah — it made for a very productive writing day 🙂

    I like using storms as well, whether actual storms or the sounds and feelings associated with them. You’re right that there’s something about them… the “primalness” of nature or whatever, that can ignite change in people. Tough guys become scared little girls. Soft characters suddenly become protective. Everything changes!

    I actually like using the build up to the storm more than the storm itself. Kind of like that scene in Jurassic Park when the T-rex is approaching (*BOOM* *BOOM* *BOOM*). It’s the perfect time for some tension!

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yes! The buildup! I love using that also-to me it’s all one big ball of fabulous tension-building “wax”. The changing color of the sky, the heaviness of the air, the building or slacking of wind, how the wildlife/animals are behaving, weather reports. It’s all soooo good.

  7. Wait– just cuz, you know, you didn’t exactly say so and, ummm, I’m a bit of an eternal optimist–Martin Cain and his two year old . . .? No? (bites lip)

    I love lighthouses and storms. I loved ghosty stories as a kid–not the slasher movie type–the eerie haunting kind where the back story raises your hair. I also like happy endings (but not the perfect wrapped with a bow–yuk), or at least a balance I can live with.

    Evocative post! 😀

  8. Martin and his son did make it – I’m not sure how that all unfolded, but the article I read was his account of what happened. So, no worries there. Not such a happy ending for the other lighthouse keeper or the two college kids, unfortunately.

  9. I love those pictures! Beautiful!

    And I think there’s always something inspiring about storms; raw power, uncontrollable. Definitely.

    Though personally, I hate snow. 😀

  10. Wow. That was a really powerful, yet horribly depressing, post. I can’t imagine leaving my husband and two year old behind. Especially not the two year old. You’d think she could’ve held the baby and the little boy in her arms and at least rescued both of them. Crazy story. Very sad!

    And no, no tragedies around here that I know of. But I’ve used storms in my writing. Personally, I love thunderstorms and they’re a great way to add to the atmosphere!

  11. P.S. Just so you know, when you comment on my blog and I click on your name, it automatically links me to your old site instead of this one. I figured I’d give you the heads up in case you wanted to try to link people to this one instead.

    • Ugh. Thanks for letting me know! I’ll try to fix it. Also, the Cain family did all survive as far as I know, but I don’t know how long it took for the helicopter to return to Goat Island to get father and son.

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