Chris Kridler approached me about reading and reviewing her book FUNNEL VISION and I agreed because living in Tornado Alley made me curious to know what does make a storm chaser tick.
Tornadoes inspire novel's passion - and respect - for storms by Chris Kridler
One of the first pieces of advice writers get is to "write what you know." I would add "know what you write," because research can help you know a lot.
It's a little awkward writing about my passion for storm chasing and my awe of tornadoes when they can be such forces for destruction. One of my challenges in writing the novel "Funnel Vision," an adventure story about storm chasers, was conveying the nature of the storms accurately, from their beauty to their violence, while capturing the excitement and empathy of the people who chase them.
There's a clash between the "thrill of the chase," as the villain in the movie "Twister" says to derision, and an artistic, scientific and warning-minded approach to storms. The debate plays out constantly in everything from TV shows to storm-chaser message boards. This time of year, especially, when tornado season approaches its peak, there's a lot of concern about warning the public.
The worries about public safety have become more acute as unwary folks with camera phones, focused on getting "extreme" footage like the stuff on TV, stand outside their homes or cars as a tornado bears down on them. The problem is, TV often makes storm chasing look safe and easy, and while chasing can be done safely, it's never safe to let a tornado overtake you. That camera is no protection. (Neither is your car.)
In the novel, the characters who chase storms come from various backgrounds. My heroine, Judy, is fascinated by tornadoes in part because she feels she wants to relive and understand the twister that ripped through her Kansas town and destroyed her childhood. Jack, a researcher and the story's devil-may-care hero, wants to lose himself in the storms and forget the past, but he's also driven by scientific curiosity. They and other characters are thrilled to see storms, but they're also aware of the danger.
At one point, Judy and her friend Robinson are chasing a puff of a cloud near her hometown: "By the time they got near it, it was a rising tower, developing clusters and fists of hard, white convection that built the mountain handful by handful, rapidly, faster than the imagination of geology. The evolving features rolled up the sides of the mountain, expanding like an explosion, becoming darker and more forbidding until the anvil began to spread out above their heads, shadowing the people in its path."
The more the characters know, the more they understand the storms' power. There's a sense of darkness. While sometimes humorous, the novel doesn't ignore the consequences of tornadoes, which are devastating and often deadly. In the book, storm chasing never looks like an amusement park ride, even if the chasers love what they do. Their romantic relationships tend to be as unpredictable as the storms. At the core of each of their identities is an unyielding ardor for the atmosphere.
What I hope readers take away from "Funnel Vision" is not just the satisfaction of an exciting and emotional story, but a better sense of what storm chasing is really like and a greater respect for storms.
I hope wherever you are this storm season, you have a weather radio - preferably one you can program so that it alerts you when your county is in danger - and a plan to get yourself and your family to safety. While the cliche "there was no warning" is often heard after tornado outbreaks, there are warnings if you know how to listen. At the least, there's usually a tornado watch or severe thunderstorm watch, indicating conditions are right for such conditions to develop. Often, the National Weather Service issues warnings several minutes in advance, and that's why those weather radios are critical. Don't wait for the siren. Local TV and radio stations, especially in Tornado Alley, also do a superb job of keeping the public up-to-date on warnings. Especially be aware of conditions if you are driving somewhere so that you're not caught in the path of a tornado unawares, and don't seek shelter under an overpass. The National Severe Storms Laboratory offers more facts and tips here: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/edu/safety/tornadoguide.html
Lastly, don't run outside to take photos unless you know exactly what you're doing. Seek shelter, and stay safe. Have a spectacular spring.
Chris Kridler is a writer, photographer, storm chaser and author of the novel "Funnel Vision." She lives on Florida's Space Coast and blogs at chriskridler.com.
FUNNEL VISION came to me from author Chris Kindler for a review and contest give away. All I ask in return for you to be eligible to win is please leave a comment on “could you be a storm chaser?” Now, you have to come back on Sunday – April 15th when I post the winners for the week and see if you have won. If you do not come back, you will not know you won, and you will not get your prize because I am going to need your address.
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~ REVIEW from The Reading Reviewer ~
FUNNEL VISION by Chris Kridler
Being a storm chaser is exciting, challenging, and completely terrifying even for a seasoned professional. When Judy takes her small town photography career up a notch and moves from weddings to tornadoes anything may come blowing her away. More than something does happen when Judy meets Jack; the best in the storm chasing business passion for their work takes on a new meaning.
Jack shows Judy how to not only capture the photograph, but also recreate on film the intense emotion delivered with each storm. Jack is also interested in exploring Judy on a personal level. With all the background noise going on this adventure may be more difficult than figuring out which storm to chase.
Jack, Judy and a rag tag group of adrenaline junkies chase every storm they can are as devoted to each other as they are to catching the illusive "perfect storm.” People come in and out of the frame for Judy but consistently she knows that every member of the group have her back. Judy may be sailing through uncharted waters, but during the process of staying alive, she is out to pursue the money shot.
Chris Kindler has written a book that makes every reader feel as if they are standing on the side of the road experiencing the full effect of Mother Nature. Ms. Kindler knows how to perfectly characters, relationships, and the effect a storm has on everything.