Origins of the book and my concept of beginning with a crash into the house:
I did not know I would be writing my novel, Water on the Moon, until I had a recurring image of a woman, who turned out to be Lidia Raven, the main character. I saw hertaking out the trash on a moonlit night, and I could see that she was troubled, but mostly she was very tired. Suddenly I knew she was a single mother. From there the othercharacters fell into place: Polly, her energetic friend with an indomitable spirit; her teenage twins, who gave Lidia her strength and motivation to soldier on in spite of her recent setbacks, the most shattering (literally), the plane that destroyed her home.
And that brings us to the plane. Soon after I had the image of Lidia, I began to see a plane coming straight on, out of the clouds. At first, I didn’t connect the two, but when I did I knew the entire plot could unfold from a plane crashing into her house. I must admit, at first I didn’t think too much about the tragic overtones of beginning my book with such an event—because I knew in my fictional account that the family, including their dog, the black Lab, Opal, would all survive. Unfortunately, there are tragic outcomes involving these crashes, but there are also cases where the residents narrowly escape injury and there is, miraculously, no ensuing catastrophic fire.
I’m not sure why I connected Lidia’s historic farmhouse with a plane crash, but there is a possible link that I may have been aware of, perhaps subconsciously. Just before my husband and I bought our old house in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, a neighboring resident who was a pilot crashed in a field near our soon-to-be home. There were reports that he narrowly missed our house and that he more than likely maneuvered the plane valiantly to avoid the residential area before crashing and perishing in the vacantfield. When I think of that now, it seems likely that the crash stayed with me and found its way into the openingpages of my novel.
Since writing the book, I have researched incidents ofplanes crashing into homes, mainly because I began to getquestions at readings and book clubs about the likelihood of surviving such an event. I was happy to discover that these types of accidents have been known to spare the residents, as happens in my book. And of course it is the crash in Water on the Moon that sets the plot into motion once Lidia discovers a connection between her and the pilot of the plane, Tina Calderara. From there, the crash leads Lidia to Harry, the FBI agent who will figure prominently as the events begin to unfold.
My hope in writing Water on the Moon was to create a book that would capture the reader’s attention from the first to the last sentence. When readers tell me the book is a page-turner, I smile and say, “Well then, I’ve accomplished my goal.”