September 11, 2011

What Were You Writing on 9/11?

Ground Zero

Do you remember what book or story you were writing when 9/11 occurred? Were you published then? Did the events of that day shape what you wrote later?

I was working at home then, and was alone that day. My son called me from his work and said a plane had hit the Twin Towers. I remember asking him if it was foggy. It never occurred to me that this could possibly be something done on purpose. At that point, I didn't turn on the TV because I had work to do and couldn't deal with the distraction. He called me not long afterward and said another plane had hit the other tower. Again, my thought was that something screwy was up with radar, or there was some kind of glitch in navigation. Even that aliens were involved. Hey -- I write science fiction, you know? Still could not fathom that anyone in their right mind would do such a horrible thing on purpose.

When he called the third time and said "You are NOT going to believe this" and told me the Pentagon had been hit, chills ran over me. I thought "We're at war." I put together my carryall for work and drove to the office. We lived in the country and didn't have cable, and there was no way I was wasting time trying to see through the buggy, snowy connection of live broadcast. I listened to the radio on the way in and heard details as they were unfolding.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I sat and listened as the DJ on the radio was talking to a woman whose son was in the second tower. She had called the radio station hoping they might have some contact with authorities, and be able to help her find out news about her son. I remember thinking she must be desperate if she was resorting to this. Surely someone in NYC could get through by phone. I had no idea the towers themselves were the sources of the telecommunications equipment in the area, even though the company I worked for owned and operated that very equipment. While they were talking, the second tower fell. I can still hear the DJ's voice as he said it. Gives me shivers even now.

I wasn't published until three years later. It took losing my job after 9/11 for me to realize I had to grab control of my life and steer it in the direction I wanted it to go. 9/11 didn't directly influence me to write. I'd always wanted to do that. But being one of thousands laid off from a company did make me reconsider my priorities. My next job brought me in touch with a literary agent who was getting out of the business. Through her influence, I set about redirecting my goals. Seven books later, here I am.

Share your story as we remember 9/11/2001.