June 2, 2011

Earthquakes (Guest Post by Janet Fox)

Earthquakes are on everyone’s mind, now, seeing the terrible destruction in Japan. Earthquakes were much on my mind a year ago while I was writing FORGIVEN, which is set in 1906, during the terrible earthquake in April of that year that devastated San Francisco. I had wanted to place my character Kula in a situation that would test her. In fact, it tested me.

FaithfulEven though I have a geology degree and my husband is a geologist, I didn’t know much about the 1906 earthquake. I didn’t know that while the earthquake did significant damage, it was the subsequent fires (resulting from broken gas lines and water mains) that leveled the city, nearly destroying it entirely. I didn’t know that thousands may have been lost, that we’ll never know how many thousands because San Francisco harbored a large itinerant and underground population at the time. I didn’t know that the corrupt city government added to the chaos that followed the earthquake. I didn’t know that the military, called in to keep the peace, blew up buildings in the face of the fire only to spread both fire and damage in catastrophic fashion.

I also didn’t know how resilient and gracious the survivors in San Francisco were. How calmly they acted, moving to makeshift camps without complaint, sharing their remaining worldly goods when they’d lost almost everything, standing in long lines for food and water with good humor and kindliness. How everyone pitched in to save the remainder of the city when the fires advanced. How sturdy San Franciscans were, cleaning up the ruins at once, beginning to rebuild the city as soon as possible, supporting one another and their city with pride.

ForgivenThe earth is dynamic but its behavior is without malicious intent. We humans respond as best we can. And it is our best response – our generosity and kindness – that does us credit.

In FORGIVEN I tried to show what it means to be human in the best sense in the face of catastrophe. What it means to be strong but kind and resilient but generous. I hope I gave Kula those traits, and I hope I could live up to them in the same circumstances.


Janet Fox will donate a portion of the proceeds from FORGIVEN to The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. To learn more about what you can do to help agencies that actively fight the exploitation and trafficking of children, visit the following websites:


  1. Hi, Janet! I was so excited to see your post, even though it is about a very sad subject. We miss you at the school (I'm heading toward the critical thesis)! The cover of your book is gorgeous! Can't wait to read it!

  2. Thank you so much, Linda!! So pleased to hear from you. I'll be back this summer for the mini-rez so see you then!

    And yes, I uncovered some sad facts while researching this novel. Maybe it will shed some light.

  3. The premise of FORGIVEN sounds very interesting, even if sad. I LOVE the cover, but I've never heard of it before. Thanks for putting it on my radar!


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