July 16, 2014 | Comments Off on Shaking things up | Betsy Woodman
Oh, the joys of composition. While I was writing the third Jana Bibi book, Emeralds Included, I threw out more than I kept. It always happens that way for me. Subplots, characters–they rise and fall, appear and disappear. The last draft resembles the first very little.
In the story, Jana’s son, Jack, is an engineer. At one point, I had him researching earthquakes in the Himalayas, and I threw an earthquake into the plot, too, for good measure. In one draft of the book, two of the characters lost their houses and had to take up residence at the Victory (formerly the Victoria) Hotel. Plus, I had Jana trapped in a building that had collapsed, and oh, Lord knows what else.
I abandoned the earthquake, but it wasn’t actually such an unlikely occurrence.
The story is located in the Himalayas, and the Himalayas started to form only recently. Being such babies of mountains, they have frequent temper tantrums.
How recent is recent? Roughly 200 million years ago, India, an island located somewhere off Australia, started drifting north. Then, sometime between 50 and 40 million years ago, it rammed right into the Asian continent. It’s still pushing.
The Himalayas, formed by this collision, are rising at about 1 cm a year, and the “plate-tectonic” forces continue to build up. Every now and then, the stresses get partly relieved by a huge earthquake–well, the plates might feel relieved, but the same can not be said for the people. There’s almost unimaginable chaos above ground.
Meanwhile, on a normal day, the territory can look so peaceful and innocent!
Massive stone retaining walls keep things in place–most of the time.
Houses are built on improbable bits of horizontal ground.
The territory is hazardous but it’s gorgeous, I love it, and that’s one of the reasons I had to set the Jana Bibi books there. With or without earthquakes.
Photo credits Donna Greenberg