Does weather ever influence your story?
March 11, 2020
Characters react one way when they’re cold and another way when drought has dried the landscape around them.
Snow had fallen sometime during the night.
It came in silence.
I knew it was cold.
I didn’t know it would snow.
The ice would skirt around us, the radar map said.
The wintry mix would move north.
We would awake to winter.
Let someone else battle the slush.
I awoke and glanced out the window.
The ground was white.
Limbs were bent and laced with icicles.
The sky was the color of dirty laundry.
The snow would come again before I slept.
Those of you who live north in the frozen tundra only scoff.
This isn’t snow, you say.
This is only a couple of inches of white powder.
In East Texas, we were locked in by ice.
No one is going anywhere.
The streets are skating rinks.
All we can do is hang on until it melts.
Temperatures have hit sixteen degrees.
It won’t melt soon.
I have long believed that weather can become a major character in some novels.
Characters react one way when they’re cold.
They react another way when drought has dried the landscape around them.
They pray for rain.
They pray for the rain to stop.
Weather saves or condemns them all.
In my third Ambrose Lincoln thriller, Night Side of Dark, winter had crept into a war-torn land.
The snow had ceased to fall sometime after midnight, and the snow on the sidewalks had become little more than mounds and sheets of ice. A sharp wind was fighting its way out of the alleys and down the street.
The soldiers were wearing long woolen coats.
The thin man was clad only in his shirt and trousers.
He was walking barefoot in the snow, his head held high, a recalcitrant smile playing on his face. There was no shiver in his shoulders. The Germans could kill him. They would not break him.
The thin man must have known it would end someday.
He may have dreaded it.
He had not feared it.
Lincoln could see the stubborn defiance embedded in his eyes.
War is deadly.
It’s even worse when characters are gripped and encased in the winds of winter.
Hands are numb.
Every step brings misery.
Cold is a slow and painful way to say goodbye.
The distant sounds of rifle fire had reached the far edge of the river by the time Captain Dunaway Walker drove slowly out of the barn and into the fog. He turned south down an old country lane that would take him to a paved road which forked hard to the left and wound its way through the farmlands toward Krakow. The gunfire was close enough to shatter the rear window, but the day was cold, and sound carried. Lincoln was not concerned. The rifles were behind him, carried by men walking through snow. Every step was becoming more difficult for them to make. Snow was the great equalizer between gunmen and the hunted. They would not get far. They certainly had no desire to swim a chilled river. By now, the freezing ice had made it virtually impassable.
Besides, they had a far more important job to do than chase the fading remnants of a shadow into a dark place where only a shadow dared go.
They had to bury a lieutenant with a ruddy face.
The ground was hard.
It was cold.
He imagined that some funeral detail would decide to toss his carcass in the river, file a report about a false grave just beyond the eastern perimeter of town, and wait for orders to move on or wait for the thaw.
Their war was over.
It died at the bottom of a river.
Winter came to East Texas.
For a moment, it was magical.
Children threw snowballs in the street.
A snowman appeared on a corner lot.
Birds hung like spangles in the trees.
I stepped outside.
I didn’t stay outside long.
Like the characters in my novel, I didn’t move on.
I would wait for the thaw.
Please click HERE to find Night Side of Dark on Amazon.