Message From The Author
Imagine knowing that your heart was failing and there was no guarantee a human transplant would be found in time. What if there was an experimental mechanical heart that might save your life? Would you try to obtain one? This is the question that popped into my mind after I read an article about the Berlin Heart, a device saving lives across Europe but which is not cleared by the FDA for use in the States. It sparked an idea which would later turn into my newest suspense novel, Turbulence, in which Maddie Lambert is transporting a Berlin Heart to her father when her plane goes down. The outcome of their situation means not only life or death for Maddie and the three other crash survivors, but for her father who is down to his last hours due to a failing heart.
Now comes the inspiration for another theme in the book, our reliance on technology. My husband works for the fire service and, in case of medical emergency, their aim is to have a fully equipped crew at your door in under five minutes, supplied with all the necessary medicines and techniques to save your life. We take this kind of help for granted. But what if you were someplace where there would be no help arriving and no phones, no radios and no technology to rely on to assist you? Enter the snowy Cascade Mountains where Maddie and her ex fiancé Paul Ford will have to fight for survival with only their faith and courage to sustain them after the crash of their small plane.
Remember the Stolpas? The family stranded in the snowy wilderness of Nevada in 1993? They were faced with one difficult decision after another. Stay with the car or leave it? They had no tools to help except their own resourcefulness. They put on all their clothes and slid plastic garbage bags between layers of socks. They tied sweatshirts over their heads and bundled the baby inside two sleeping bags and a garment bag. With supplies running low, Jim Stolpa set out to find help, knowing that if he didn’t succeed, his wife and infant son would die in the snow cave he left behind. What kind of inner strength and divine intervention does it take to survive nine days, knowing that each day might be your last?
That is enough conflict to propel a story forward, but because I dwell in a fictional universe most of the time, I added two more elements to kick up the suspense a notch. First, the steam caves. I am a sucker for a good, mysterious setting. I was fascinated to learn that tunneling through volcanic Mt. Rainier, is a network of steam caves formed by the exhaust from the volcano’s escaping heat. The walls of the vast tunnel system are formed of the same hardened ice that comprises glaciers. Sounds like the perfect place to hide a few crash survivors, doesn’t it?
The second complication is the tragic history between Maddie and Paul. When Maddie’s young nieces are brought in to the hospital after a car wreck, Paul is the doctor on duty to treat them. They do not survive, yet the man who caused the accident does, Paul’s brother who was driving drunk. Now we’ve got some emotional conflict. Maddie sides with her father in blaming Paul for saving his brother at the expense of the girls. Paul reels from the guilt of supporting his brother and the loss of two young patients, in the face of condemnation by the one woman in the world he loves.
Now the stage is set for a turbulent ride indeed! I’m always on the lookout for new plots or locations that will inspire an edge-of-your-seat story. If you’d like to share your ideas or comments, I’d love to hear from you via my website at www.danamentink.com. Thank you for spending time with me today!
- Dana Mentink
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