OMG, the 150-meter high San Rafael Waterfall on the Coca River in Ecuador is gone. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/01/world/san-rafael-waterfall-gone-trnd/index.html. It was the highest waterfall in Ecuador, and a major tourist attraction. Apparently on 2 February of this year, a sinkhole opened up just upstream of the waterfall and swallowed up the Coca River. This was a real event. In my book The Unexpected, an earthquake that causes a canyon to open up and swallow the Churún River thus drying up Angel Falls in Venezuela was a fictional event. The similarity of events was duly noted by numerous of my readers who e-mailed or texted me on 1 April. I assumed that it was an April Fool’s joke and commented such. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be real. So, I guess that I will have to send my band of spelunkers to Ecuador to check out this new sinkhole. There is no telling about what they might find.
One of the things I like about a story’s plot is that it shouldn’t arise out of one of the characters doing something stupid or illogical. Unfortunate or challenging circumstances can arise naturally and force the characters to respond in unique and interesting and exciting ways to generate a believable plot. In The Unexpected such situations frequently arise because the team is taking on an extremely challenging cause the full nature of which can’t be anticipated ahead of time. The first main challenge they must face is the need for money, lots of money. A major expedition to explore a cave with a world-record-setting deep pit located in a remote part of the world is expensive, more expensive than any of the individuals could afford on their own or collectively. So, the first task was to find a funding source. This was done by inviting Scott Mueller to join the team and use money from his grandfather’s foundation to finance the effort. The next show-stopping hurdle to rear its ugly head was the unusual and unnatural nature of the walls in the cave. They were glassy slick, and none of the crew had rock climbing skills sufficiently adept to lead the climbing assault into the cave. To overcome this showstopper, they had to find someone with the requisite skills and convince them to join the team. That was why Spider and Bufford were added to the team. The next showstopper came when they observed that the entire Churun River poured into the abyss, leaving no dry place to rig the pit. As everyone who has ever rappelled into a deep pit in a cave knows, you don’t rig your rope near the waterfall. In this case, it was more than a waterfall, it was a raging torrent, and there was no way to pause or redirect the water. This meant that rappelling into the pit was no longer an option. Hence, the show was over unless a different method of descent could be devised. A little bit of Alabama engineering and innovation was applied to find a solution. The story of The Unexpected continues with potential show-stopping obstacles arising at every turn, and each obstacle requires that the team rise to the occasion with innovative solutions.
I guess that this is a question that every author of a fiction story gets asked: Are your characters based on real people that you know, or are they made up? For me, that is an easy question. They are made up based upon characteristics and personality traits of people I have known, met, heard about, seen, or read about. My characters are fictional people.
Well, one of my friends asked, “What about Spider, is she real or made up?” While Spider is probably my most colorful character, I told him that she is made up. However, back in the days when I was rock climbing, there were a few girls that were amazing, but today, the sport is much more popular and there are a lot more women involved. There are contests; there are indoor training facilities with challenging walls and boulder problems; there are much-improved equipment and refined techniques. Nowadays, if you check out some of the climbing magazines and YouTube videos that are being posted, you will see a lot of young women that could easily give a gecko a run for the money. Today, there are a lot of amazing young women rock climbers.
Regarding my other characters, and frankly, I like them all, they are all fictional. I will admit that some of them may remind you of one or more real-life cavers, especially if you know some of the old-timers. But, any resemblance to real persons is entirely coincidental.
I grew up reading Asimov, Heinlein, EE ‘Doc’ Smith and others. They wrote great science fiction. That is what they did. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought to ask them why they wrote science fiction or where they got their inspiration or what motivated them to write the stories that they created. But, most of the people that I have talked with who have read my book the first question they ask me is “What inspired you to write your book?” My response… crickets. I don’t know. I didn’t know that I was inspired to write anything, but I guess that I was actually. I’ve watched a lot of sci-fi movies and read a lot of books, and a lot of them rely on the main characters doing something stupid or illogical in order to create a plot. I didn’t like this approach, and it often ruined the story for me. I feel like real life presents a sufficient number of challenges that an author shouldn’t have to rely on their characters doing something dumb. So, I decided to write a short story to illustrate my point.
A few years ago, an earthquake occurred offshore from Columbia. There was an initial concern that there might be a tsunami as a result. The tsunami never occurred, but I thought what would have happened if that earthquake had occurred a few hundred miles to the east. Would it have possibly created a tsunami that would have washed over the ABC islands? What else might an earthquake cause that would be catastrophic in that area and how might people respond. Then I thought about Angel Falls, and being an avid spelunker I knew I had the genesis for my short story. But as I was putting my short story together, it kept getting longer and longer until it was no longer a short story but rather a full-length book. I tried to remain true to my original premise that a good plot can be created by ordinary people responding in a logical and rational way to situations presented to them in real life.
Welcome. My name is Donal Myrick, author of The Unexpected. I’m so happy to have you as a visitor to my blog about my new book. This project is very special to me, and I hope to share some of that excitement with you here.
I’ll be using this blog to interact with you about The Unexpected, expanding on some of the topics in it and blogging on some of the ideas related to my book. This is a great place for you to get to know me, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you, too. What did you think of The Unexpected? What questions do you have for me? How do you relate to my book?
I’ll be returning here frequently with new posts and responses to feedback from you. Until next time, tell me a little bit about yourself.