Tornados are center-stage in Daughter of the South Wind, and some of you may wonder why. Dawn, the novel’s central character, and I share the same childhood experience…surviving a direct hit of an unwarned, EF-4 tornado.
Like her, I learned how to cope with the psychological effects of that traumatic event. But still I might over-react, just a little bit, whenever there’s a storm—meaning when the wind really blows during a routine thunderstorm, the dog and I go hang out in the master bedroom closet. Trust me, if the house had a basement, we’d go there, but it doesn’t, so Mae-Mae and I make do with the best option which I’ve stocked with two, extra-thick yoga mats, pillows, blankets, a battery-operated lantern, a book-sized car-battery charger which can also power small appliances and electronics, my important files in a fireproof safe, water, a doggie survival kit, an old bike helmet, and my own go-kit. Yes, it kinda resembles a nuclear fallout shelter, sans food (except my bag does have some protein bars and M&Ms).
One spring night two-years ago, Mae-Mae and I found ourselves snugged away in the shelter, I mean closet, fitfully sleeping despite the constant patter of rain on the roof and frequent thunder-booms. The phone, ipad, and back-up ipad lit up and blared that annoying warning sound, the one that makes your heart speed up and gut sink. When I finally got my eyes to focus on it, the pop-up said my area was under a Tornado Warning. Yup, the night weatherperson had said, “Don’t worry, just good, soaking rains tonight with a few rumbles of thunder, nothing in the atmosphere to make them severe.” Since foolish me had believed them, the warning caught me off-guard. Thankfully, Mae-mae had sensed something not quite right and had hounded me into the closet an hour earlier.
The electricity went out next, always a bad sign considering that’s what happened just before the tornado of my childhood tore through our house. In my frantic attempts to pull up live radar over cellular service, I heard, and felt, a faint rumbling. Given our block-and-a-half proximity to a frequently used railway, I forced my mind to believe the noise signaled a train passing even though my gut knew different. With Mae-Mae in my arms, I rocked us back-and-forth muttering, “It’s just the train, it’s just the train,” until my ears popped and a rush of air swirled under the door and whistled through the house.
I curled us into a tight ball in the corner, knowing the house was a gonner. But as fast as it all happened, it disappeared. The normal sounds of rain and thunder returned, and the ipad finally connected to a local TV station’s live feed which reported a radar-indicated rotation in my vicinity. Well, no shit, Sherlock.
Sleep no longer a possibility, I sat up for the rest of the night in the closet, surfing the net. I’d made my annual pizza and apple pie sacrifice to the tornado gods, so my close encounter with a funnel—and I absolutely knew a funnel had gone over us—pissed me off, which was silly because I knew it was a childish tradition that my family weirdly continued well into my adulthood and held absolutely no bearing to any real-life weather encounters. But my mind raced, and in its meanderings, I wanted to know if tornado gods did exist in Greek mythology.
Hours later, I found the storm gods, sons of the storm giant Typholus, but they had no names nor story. In that 3 A.M. moment, I knew I had to make one of them a tornado god, and I created Nino.
Learn more about Nino, sacrifices to the tornado gods, and Dawn’s childhood EF-4 experience in Daughter of the South Wind, available in Amazon e-books and Kindle Unlimited.