Before we start into today’s blog post, just a note that Ann and I took over Kensington’s Tumblr page last Thursday following the release of STORM RISING and posted five mini blog posts. If you’re interested in some extra content about the FBI K-9s, STORM RISING, or search-and-rescue dogs, pop over to Kensington’s Thumblr: http://kensingtonbooks.tumblr.com/
I have a treat for the readers of STORM RISING this week in the form of some supplementary material—a chapter that existed in the original manuscript, but was deleted from the final version. Our editor extraordinaire, Esi Sogah, had a concern about the original set-up of the book. The story starts with Meg and Hawk participating in live rescues following Hurricane Cole’s landfall in Virginia. It’s only after the first two days of searches that the main plot starts when Meg and Webb stumble across a human trafficking ring. Esi’s concern was that the central mystery took too long to start. She made a very good point as there were three major search scenes that came before the human trafficking story, two water rescues and one land rescue. So we decided we needed to cut one scene. That scene became a short conversation between Meg and Brian to fill out their search activities of the day, and an even shorter conversation between Meg and Webb. Without a doubt, Esi made the correct call, and the book is stronger for it.
A side angle of this scene’s deletion is that brainstorming for the book’s cover came directly from this scene. In it, the team is in a boat, moving between houses flooded nearly to their roof lines. Hawk hears a cry for help and jumps out of the boat to swim toward one of the houses. On the cover, we see Hawk just after launching off the bow of the boat, before he hits the water. In my head, Meg and the boat are just off scene, following Hawk on the way to the rescue.
First, here is the conversation between Brian and Meg:
“How did the rest of your morning go?” Brian’s words lifted Meg from her contemplation. “The last time I texted you, you sounded pretty discouraged.” He glanced down at Lacey trotting at his side. “Lacey sure was. She started gnawing at her paw after we found the fifth or sixth deceased victim.”
“Poor girl.” Meg ran her fingers over Lacey’s back, earning her a quick, ear-perked look from the dog. “These kinds of searches are so hard on them. We had a terrible start to the morning, but got lucky later on. There was a family trapped in their two-story house with the water nearly to the roof. Dad drowned downstairs trying to keep the water out, but Mom, her newborn baby, and two other kids made it up to the attic. Then Mom threw a postpartum clot and stroked out, leaving the care of all four of them in the hands of her ten-year-old son. Not knowing what else to do, he stood at their attic window bellowing for help. I couldn’t hear him, but Hawk could. Launched himself out of the boat because we weren’t going fast enough and swam right to the window where the boy stood in waist-high water. We got them all out.”
“Did Mom make it?”
Meg nodded. “We can thank Todd for that. I got him on his cell and told him the symptoms. He confirmed it was an ischemic stroke and told us what we needed to do for her and what meds she needed immediately to save her life. We called in a Coast Guard chopper with a medical team and they got her into the chopper and had meds flowing before they even had everybody off the roof. Then they airlifted the whole family right to the hospital. Her chances for a full recovery look pretty good, thanks to Hawk and Todd. Even another hour or two would have changed her life forever, or ended it.”
“A full recovery is crucial now that she’s lost her husband. Those three kids are going to need their mother more than ever.”
And now, a link to a PDF of the original first version of this scene before it was cut from the manuscript. Enjoy!