I did not fully appreciate the sacrifice firefighters and their families made on a daily basis until 9/11. It was a stunning revelation. Not only did we lose 343 of these brave men and women, hundreds of firefighters still suffer the aftermath in the way of respiratory illnesses.
As an author, I knew I would one day write a book where a firefighter played a major role. It was just a matter of when. I read several books by veteran firefighter, Dennis Smith, my favorite being, “Report From Engine Co. 82.”
I spoke at length with the wife of a firefighter who discussed some of the fears shared by spouses. Most of us take for granted that our loved ones will return home at the end of the day. That is not always the case with firefighters. I can’t help but wonder why we don’t have bumper stickers that say, “Have You Hugged a Firefighter Today?”
When I decided to write a comedy/suspense series about a female psychologist and her crazy family, friends, and patients, I already knew her husband would be a firefighter. In my wacky plot situations, he is the grounded one.
The first book of the series, WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY, introduces Jay Rush, a fireman in Atlanta. While I touch on some of the dangers his company faces on a normal day, I don’t think I will ever be able to do these men and women justice. I can’t relate – I doubt many people can – what it’s like to race into a burning building while everyone else is running out. I can’t imagine putting my life on the line to save another, but saving people is what firefighters do. Racing into the belly of an inferno gives a whole new meaning to “Serve and Protect.”
But this is a fact of life for those who choose this career. There are many heroes. I highly recommend Dennis Smith’s books for those who want to know what firefighting is truly like.
To celebrate the second book of my series, NUTCASE, due in bookstores Feb. 24th, my publisher and I have donated hundreds of copies of WHAT LOOKS LIKE CRAZY to firefighters and/or their spouses. NUTCASE is dedicated to these same people. It is such an embarrassingly small way to say thank you and bring attention to their sacrifice and bravery.
On Feb. 24, I will begin a southeast book signing tour where I hope to meet a number of firefighters or family members. Please check my website: www.readcharlottehughes.com for dates. More than ever, I would love to shake your hand or give you a big hug. And say thank you.