This week I took a break from writing Raff & Isla’s book, the story about the Prince of Fire, to go remote beach camping with my family in a national park situated along Victoria’s rugged East Gippsland coastline, and boy did all those fiery images swirling through my brain solidify into a sizzling dose of harsh reality.
Wildfires. The bonfire-incinerator smell. Choking smoke. Darkness at midday. Embers falling like snow. Red skies glowing.
The apocalypse is real and FIRE. IS. TERRIFYING.
Hundreds of thousands of hectares burned as intense bush fires swept across Victoria, destroying homes and sending thousands of people fleeing into evacuation centers and, in some cases, even into the water to shelter while their towns were ravaged. Right now, many communities are still isolated, and the military has been called in to evacuate the stranded and bring food and water to those in need.
My family was lucky. Unwittingly, a couple of days ago, we drove six hours with the car and trailer overloaded with camping equipment, surfboards, boogie boards, bikes, food, and all our water through eerie smoke, certain it would clear when we reached our destination. We set up camp only to be told by the amazing emergency services peeps that we needed to leave before the one highway out of the area got cut off, closed down.
We’d most likely be safe overnight, but the fires were heading to the coast. Get out while you can, they said.
The next morning, we packed up our ridiculous amount of stuff as fast as we could and made another long journey homeward through blazing heat and unsettling terrain, sweltering due to the car’s broken air-conditioning.
It wasn’t much fun. But we made it home safe.
So, yeah, we were lucky. But many weren’t. Homes were lost. People have died. Animals and birds, too. It’s devastating and, still, the fires are burning.
As incredible and terrifying images and footage emerges of a hellish landscape ablaze, my thoughts and wishes go out to all those across Victoria and also the rest of the country who have been, and still are, affected by the fires. Stay strong. Stay safe.
And now I’m back to writing the King of Always with a new understanding, and indeed fear, of Prince Rafael’s power.
Fire is a monstrous creature.
P.S. Happy New Year to all. May 2020 be an amazing year!