My Books

Sudden Cold Snaps

I started my post-draft vacation with a trip to visit my parents. One good thing about being buried in a book was that meant I’d been isolating, and that meant it was safe for me to visit them. It’s only about 100 miles away, but on the way home I experienced some quirky Texas weather. It was in the upper 80s and very humid at my parents’ house, but a front had come through and stalled about halfway between my house and my parents’ house, so it was quite chilly at my house. I needed entirely different clothes only 100 miles away.

That goes to show that the kind of weather change in Interview with a Dead Editor isn’t all that uncommon in Texas. That storm is inspired by a few real-life storms I’ve experienced. When I was in college, there was a February day when I left for class in the morning just wearing shirt sleeves. It was in the mid-70s, a comfortable day that felt like spring. I was in classes all day, and when I got to my last class, it was still pretty warm. I never had a need to go back to my dorm to get a jacket. That last class was a journalism lab, so I had the regular class, followed by having to work in the lab until my radio news story was done, which meant recording and editing audio back in the day when that required a razor blade and splicing tape.

I finished my work and started to head across campus back to my dorm, stepped outside the building, and it was something like 22 degrees and sleeting. Fortunately, one of the RAs on my floor had a handicap permit and a spot right next to the dorm, and he’d issued a blanket offer that if anyone ever needed a ride, to call him (everyone else had to fight for parking, and if you left your parking space, it was lost forever). I went back to the lab and called him, and he came to pick me up, so I didn’t have to walk all the way across campus in the sleet in freezing weather without a jacket. I’m usually pretty good about keeping an eye on the forecast, and I’d spent the morning interning in a TV newsroom, so I don’t think that front was expected or I’d have been better prepared.

Another came in early January about 20 years ago, when my company did its statewide meeting. That front was forecast, so I was prepared, but not everyone was. The people who’d come up from the Houston and Austin offices for the meeting had mostly packed for the warm, muggy weather we were having. The temperature had already started to drop by the time we left the meeting to board the buses to the location for our belated company holiday party. By the time the party ended, it was below freezing. People had looked at me funny when I brought a heavy coat to work that morning when it was warm, but I had the last laugh when they were shivering in their short sleeves. I barely made it home before the precipitation started. The rest of the weekend, everything was iced over.

Then there was the infamous ice storm in early December about six years ago. The temperature drop wasn’t so sudden and drastic, but that was the year we got freezing rain, followed by sleet, and by the time it was all done, we had a four-inch thick layer of ice all over everything. Basically, we got covered in an ice rink. You can’t scrape that away. We just had to wait for it to melt. The whole area was iced in for days. A lot of big trucks got stuck on the highways, so the highways were blocked and motorists were stranded. Churches and businesses along the freeways went out to get people out of the cars and into warm buildings.

That’s what I had in mind when writing that book. I figured it was the best way to get someone stuck in town for a while.

If you’ve already read the first book, did you know that the second book is available for pre-order? Look on the book’s page for links to order.

2 Responses to “Sudden Cold Snaps”

  1. Renske

    As someone living somewhere else in the world, it is not the type of weather I would think of for Texas, so I learned something new.

    • Shanna Swendson

      We have fairly consistent weather in the summer, but it’s wildly inconsistent the rest of the year, so when it does get cold, it’s usually in one of those sudden snaps instead of a more typical gradually getting colder. Like today — we had warm, muggy weather yesterday, and a front came through this morning, so it dropped more than 10 degrees (F) from the time I got up this morning until now.

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