I have this theory. That stories are born, not made. They are alive and floating around in the universe waiting for their author to pluck them from the stars and put them down on paper. These stories hit with a whoosh. Sometimes coming out nearly fully formed. (Coincidentally, author Elizabeth Gilbert and I share this same theory, as evidenced in her awesome book, Big Magic.)
I’ve been gifted a few stories this way and it always feels a bit like an electrical shock followed by an exciting ride on the world’s best rollercoaster.
For my newest novel, Vortex, I remember the whoosh perfectly. I was watching post-tornado coverage on TV and had this vision of a small girl being found in the rubble with no recollection of who she is or where she came from. I spent several days thinking about that little girl, wondering what her life would have been like. Where did she come from? Was anyone frantically looking for her? And, who did she grow up to be?
Sometimes the whoosh isn’t a whoosh. It could be a seed of a story that grows out of an off-handed comment.
Several years ago, I worked in public relations for a Fortune 500 company. I was getting antsy to get a press release out and was annoying my contact in the legal department to hurry up. When he quipped that he was just trying to keep me out of jail for accidentally committing security fraud – there it was – a quiet whoosh that grew louder as that “what if” became a story. That off-handed comment became the genesis of my Phoenix trilogy.
Whooshes can even come in dreams.
My current work in progress came to me in a dream. In this dream, I was speaking with one of the main characters, a man who runs a very unconventional business that grants dying wishes. When I woke, I immediately grabbed my journal and wrote down everything I could remember.
Much like an old wives’ tale of a child’s birth, I think the way these stories come into the world says a lot about them. Vortex hit me in a whirlwind and the story felt that way as I wrote it. Phoenix had a slower burn, thus the trilogy. And Dire’s Club is much more character driven than anything else I’ve written, which would make sense for a story that started with a character whispering to me in a dream.
Stories are like children. Every one of them is different. Some are headstrong and stubborn (ask anyone who’s tried to control a plot). Others are quieter, making an impact with soft words rather than a shout. And all of them need a parent – an author – to nurture them and give them the opportunity to live up to their fullest potential.
Whether they came in with a whoosh or a whisper.
Constant spinning, round and round and round, temperatures rise and fall from stifling heat to chilling cold, emotions run high in anticipation of what will happen next… there’s a fine line between surviving a tornado and falling in love.
A close encounter with a tornado, during the final months of her doctoral studies, jogs a lost memory to the surface. Desperate to relive the vision and find answers, storm chaser Elaina Adams continually puts her safety at risk by placing herself in the path of dangerous storms.
When betrayal strikes, Elaina is forced to pair up with Robert Tucker. “Tuck” owns a storm chasing tour group and only cares about two things: chasing tornadoes and making his next buck.
Seth Maddux was climbing his way to the top as the star meteorologist for the Forecast channel, but an embarrassing outburst on camera sent his career on a downward spiral. Hoping to reignite his career with a promising field assignment, he meets Elaina and a different kind of flame sparks.
Family secrets surface and passions explode in this twister of a tale.
Vortex is a story of family, love, identity and determination set against the thrilling backdrop of Tornado Alley.
About the Author
Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of edgy women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs. Kimberly received a degree in journalism from the University of North Texas, and has worked in public relations and communications for nearly 20 years.
When she isn’t writing, she can be found running, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Oliver and a yellow lab named Charlie.
Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. Other published works by Kimberly includes a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to Phoenix,Pardon Fallsand Prospera Pass. Her latest novel, Vortex, will be released in early 2019.