I set Shattered Souls on the Texas Gulf Coast because it’s my home and I think it’s a unique place with fascinating history. I needed ghosts for my story, and part of the plot centers around The Great Storm of 1900. Somewhere between eight and ten thousand people died in that storm. Plenty of ghosts!
The research was a blast. I took the kids to Galveston Island and we explored. After visiting a museum dedicated to the Storm, we found the perfect cemetery, hotel, and restaurant for the story.
Above is my 4 foot-tall daughter near a mausoleum at Old City Cemetery. When this mausoleum was constructed in 1888, the door would have been at least 6 feet tall. It’s under 4 feet tall today, because the level of the entire island was raised after the Storm of 1900 in an effort to prevent another deadly flood. I found this so interesting, I used it in Shattered Souls in the scene when Alden and Lenzi meet for the first time.
First-hand familiarity with my century old story-world came roaring into my life while I was revising it for the first time. Hurricane Ike slammed into the Gulf Coast. Ike was similar in intensity to the Storm of 1900. Fortunately, we now have radar, satellites, internet, radio and television to warn us that entire communities may be swept away. No such system existed in 1900.
The effect of Hurricane Ike was similar to the Storm of 1900, but the death rate was negligible thanks to modern technology. I’ve been through several hurricanes in my lifetime, but this one made the others look, feel, sound, and smell like babies in comparison. It was terrifying. I can only imagine what it was like for people a century ago who didn’t have days to prepare like I did.
It shocked me how similar the pictures of the devastation are. I got to witness first-hand my story-world from a century ago. I have a few examples of then and now:
Surveying the damage on wheels: Storm of 1900 and Hurricane Ike:
Sorting through the debris then and now:
The power of nature that my characters experienced in their past-lives was terrifying first hand. Fortunately, I was up in Houston when Ike hit and not in Galveston.
Below is where one of the buildings in the first draft of Shattered Souls used to stand. Murdoch’s Bath House was rebuilt after the Storm of 1900 and was lost again during Hurricane Ike. The pilings were all that remained when I drove down after Ike. At the time, it has not been rebuilt, and so I had to remove it from the later drafts.
The statue below was built as a tribute to the estimated 10,000 people who died during the Great Storm of 1900. The seawall under the statue is 17 feet tall. In the second picture, check out the storm surge hours before Hurricane Ike hit.