This guest post is part of the Turning Points blog series here on distraction no. 99—in which I asked authors the question: What was your turning point as a writer? Here is Emily Murdoch, debut author of If You Find Me and one of my Anticipated Debuts for March 2013, sharing her turning point…
And be sure to enter the giveaway before it closes tomorrow!
Guest post by Emily Murdoch
“This is your captain, speaking…”
Five little letters that end the world. Our worlds. And if not ours, than someone else’s. Maybe someone we love, maybe someone that someone we love, loves. Old, young, hooved, pawed.
Death is one hefty concept. So it’s no wonder it pops up so often in literature, including young adult fiction.
It also happens to be a significant turning point for me as a writer.
In 1997, I was a passenger in a jet that, fifteen to twenty minutes into the flight, experienced engine trouble: specifically, an engine blew up and set the belly of the plane on fire. As it so happened, I was sitting in the seat right above that engine. The explosion was fierce; my ears rang, and for a few minutes, it was all I heard. My feet, resting squarely on the floor, went numb from the resulting vibration, and I realized the plane, most certainly, was going to crash.
I was going to die.
I was going to die.
A great calm swept over me. I wasn’t screaming or panicked, and neither were the other passengers. The cabin was devoid of human noise; even the resident babies went silent. I said a prayer asking forgiveness for any way I’d failed to make the most of my life, jerking forward against the seatbelt as the plane nosedived through the clouds at an alarming speed.
We’d already reached maximum altitude when the engine exploded. From my window seat, I watched wavy noodles of Spanish tile grow larger as the roofs of an urban neighborhood swam into view. Mangled, molten plane parts rained down on houses, yards, cars.
In the newspaper, one witness said: “I heard a loud explosion then saw a vapor trail from the back of the engine … The vapor then stopped and the plane quickly began to lose altitude, flames trailing behind it.”
Another said: “The airplane noise is pretty frequent, but there was something awful about this one. It wasn’t noise. It was a plane exploding.”
At the last second, the pilot pulled up the nose and leveled off the plane, turning away from the neighborhood. We held our breath and braced ourselves through a high-speed, bumpy landing in the middle of the Arizona desert, screeching down an abandoned military airstrip, and quite miraculously, with no one hurt.
Whatever else happens in life, you never forget the silver slide.
I had one regret when my life flashed before my eyes: I hadn’t taken the leap and submitted my writing. In those moments of freefall, my fear of the pages’ prerequisite, buck-naked heart seemed a paltry matter when compared to no longer having the opportunity to submit at all.
Nothing left to lose.
So here I am, flying my pages like paper airplanes out into the world.
Emily’s debut novel, If You Find Me, will be published tomorrow, March 26, by St. Martin’s Griffin!
- Enter the giveaway to win a signed copy of the book (closes March 26 at 8pm EST!)
- Buy If You Find Me at your local independent bookstore
- Add If You Find Me to your shelf on Goodreads
EMILY MURDOCH lives in the Arizona desert with her husband and adopted dogs, spending her days operating a sanctuary for slaughter-rescued horses and burros. At night, she writes furiously by candlelight, capturing the ideas inspired by the day.
Visit her at emilymurdoch.wordpress.com to find out more.