The 100th Quake Anniversary
During the late 70s and early 80s, I lived in Guatemala, Central America. In this part of the world, earthquakes come frequently. I lived in the village area where the homes are simply constructed. Even with a small earthquake, the damage can be extensive since the houses easily fall. It didn’t take long to learn no matter when the earthquake came—and they frequently arrived in the middle of the night—the sane course of action was to get outside as quickly as possible.
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the California earthquake, last October HarperCollins published A Crack in the Edge of the World : America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester. This book has been on my “wish list” for books to read and eventually I will get the book and read it. I’ve read a number of Winchester’s books. I heard him speak at an ASJA meeting several years ago with the release of The Professor and the Madman (which I highly recommend if you haven’t read). The encouraging fact for writers about The Professor and the Madman is the book was written from historical research—and became a New York Times bestseller. It gives each of us hope that we can come up with an amazing creative idea that will turn into a bestseller.
While I have not read A Crack in the Edge of the World, I did observe a fascinating design element with the cover. If you haven’t seen this book, it’s worth a trip to your local bookstore just to see this unusual detail. If you hold the book, you will notice some sections of the cover are unusually thick. It’s because if you take off the cover, the inside of the jacket contains a giant map of the city of San Francisco along with some other maps.
Simon Winchester has a different—yet riveting style as a writer. You can sample a taste of this book at the HarperCollins website (follow this link).
I certainly applaud the creativity poured into the writing and packaging of this book on the earthquake. From the looks of the rank for the book on Amazon.com, it’s doing well for the publisher. It will be a bit before I get to read it, but I wanted to do something related to the anniversary for today’s entry on the Writing Life. The lesson for us? If you look at Simon Winchester’s list of books, each one springs from a key historical event. His storytelling is excellent in these books and memorable yet it comes from a part of history. It’s encouragement for us to continue to pursue our bestselling ideas. If we find the right publisher and the right editor at the right time and place, maybe we can also make it happen.