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About the author:
I now have eight published books. I read all the time – anything from women’s fiction to thrillers. If I don’t have a book on the go, I feel bereft and centreless. Yes, that’s a word – I think.
What inspired you to write your book?
I live in New Zealand, a land of volcanoes and earthquakes. The ultimate disaster is not such a stretch but I stretched it anyway. The idea of survival after such an apocalyptic event and the choices that get made fascinates me, hence this story.
Here is a short sample from the book:
The river stretched out as still and clean as a sheet of glass. Kayaking these waters, using my arms to propel me, made me believe life didn’t completely suck.
Bad-boy Marsh, sitting behind me in the kayak, kept breaking the silence to curse me when I slacked off in the paddling department. And I understood his frustration. Eight other kayaks slid through the water well ahead of us, driven by muscles stronger than mine. But what did he expect? I’d attended this outdoor pursuits school for only a term and it was my third time in a kayak.
A flock of birds erupted from a nearby grove of trees, squawking in fear, wings flapping hard. I stopped paddling, startled at the sudden explosion of sound and looked about me. The leaves were turning as summer slid into fall, all gold and orange. Silence again.
“Don’t think I’m doing all the work. Keep paddling,” Marsh snapped.
I glanced back at him, at the frown of concentration on his face, his powerful arms pumping the paddle. I didn’t really know him, had been paired with him by the instructor. A weak with a strong I imagined to be the policy.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Those birds…”
A deer shot out of the trees, fled across the open grass. Another appeared at the rise of the hill, headed downward at full gallop. Dread uncurled inside my stomach.
“Something’s not right,” I whispered, afraid to speak up in case that made it come true.
“Whatever,” Marsh replied. “Now paddle or we’ll lose the others.”
I looked at the kayaks well ahead, flashes of yellow which all of a sudden seemed grossly out of place. Only the kayak with that red-haired boy, Josh, and Darryl, broody son of the Romanian ambassador, remained close to us. That was because Josh was like me – skinny, no muscles.
Marsh dug me in the back. “Paddle, damn-it.”
I flinched at the jab. Marsh always swept clear a path around him with his scowls and, if necessary, his fists. I had never given him the time of day and here I was forced to kayak on the river with him.
A rumble broke the silence, came from out of nowhere. I froze in mid-action, my mouth hanging open in disbelief. The sound increased to a roar, like a jet plane rolling down the river towards us. The dread ignited into fear.
Marsh stopped paddling too. “This is not cool.”
I couldn’t speak at all, my voice box paralyzed. The roar gathered momentum, swooped through the valley.
Darryl and Josh had ceased moving too, their paddles drooping in the water.
Our kayak rolled, and I grabbed the side as water sloshed into the boat. I tried to scream but no sound came. The river moved, waves rising like humpback whales from the still calm. The sound intensified, claustrophobic in its intensity. I looked up at the mountain beyond the hills. A black scar of lava bubbled up from the crater, curled down through the snow, the leading edge flickered with fingers of fire. I stared, horrified.
“Get off the river, climb high,” our instructor shouted as he sped past, his paddle dipping and rising as he rode the waves, racing ahead to warn the others.
His voice galvanized me into action. I dug deep, turned the kayak and paddled. Marsh responded and we pitched across the water towards shore.
Ahead, the land wavered in time with our rolling – rocks dislodged, fell, trees swayed, shaking their roots.
Darryl and Josh’s kayak stayed alongside us, sunlight glancing off their straining arms as they struggled for control. Their wild eyes reflected back my fear, increasing my own.
Upstream, shots of yellow flashed as the other kayaks fought against the waves. The instructor had reached them and they had turned but they were far from the shore.
The roar was so unreal now I could feel its vibrations in my bones. The waves rolled high. Screams came from upstream. I hoped they paddled fast. My muscles burned as I fought the powerful force of this treacherous water.
“Keep it steady,” I shrieked at Marsh.
“What the hell do you think I’m trying to do?” he growled back.
I mightn’t know him well, but now I needed him as I had never needed anyone. “What’s happening?” I groaned.
“An earthquake, of course.”
“But the mountain.”
“Look out,” Marsh shouted.
I looked to the side, and died inside. A curling wave bore down on us. The muddy khaki monster hovered, playing with its power, mesmerizing me. I relaxed, the inevitability of it turning my limbs to putty, flexible and useless.
It broke. The wave hit like a falling wall, flinging me from the kayak. Down, down, I went, the water beating me, ripping at me. I hit the stony riverbed, tumbled along, my body like seaweed waving in a stream. Bubbles burst past my face, clouding my vision. My lungs burned, a ball of fire in my chest. I needed air. I craved air.
A hand closed over my wrist like a vice, pulled me upward. I broke the surface, gulped in oxygen. Sweet relief. Another wave hit me, but the hand didn’t let go, hauled me up again, dragged me through the water. I struck out for the shore and only then did the hand release its hold.
The ground rose up to meet me and I scrambled to my feet, waded to the river’s edge. Darryl walked beside me, tall, dark, drenched. I didn’t know him well either. He attended a class ahead of me, a loner.
“You saved me in there,” I spluttered.
“You were drowning.” His eyes on me, worried, a layer of fear beneath.
Ahead, Marsh and Josh ran across the shingle to the hill. The ground swayed and I tumbled to the ground. Darryl pulled me to my feet.
I looked behind at the churning river, saw the sharp bright sparks of colour still in the main stream, far from safety. My heart sank. My eyes flicked up to the far mountain. Steam and fire spurted into the air, angry and menacing. The world was coming apart at the seams.
“Hurry,” Darryl said, a deep urgency in his voice. “He said to climb.”
I ran now, terror giving my legs speed. The earth was convulsing, turning itself inside out, spewing its fiery contents onto the land. We needed to escape.
A boom resounded through the valley, broke above the roar. Startled, I stopped, steadied my legs, turned and looked upstream towards the gorge. A great roll of muddy water tumbled through the gap as if a cork had been removed. The waters spilled out of the gorge in a frothing frenzy, picking up everything in their path. A monster wave rushed down the riverbed straight for the kayaks.