I used to be a guest on various internet radio shows, but I got burned out on the whole idea, so I haven’t been accepting any invitations. When the shows were less than an hour and focused mostly on me, they were fun, but so many of the shows featured several guests and a couple of hosts, so it was hard to know who was supposed to be talking. Also, shows with many guests to be very long, and I am not fond of talking on a phone for any length of time.
Still, when Shannon Fisher invited me to be the first guest on a new show she will be hosting, I immediately agreed. I’ve never met Shannon in person, but we are good friends. We’ve often talked about life and death via Facebook and this blog, and I admire her greatly. She’s on the board of directors of UniteWomen.org, director of Unite Against Rape, and active in various other organizations. And now she’s accepted a position as host of a show on Authors on The Air.
Not only was I invited to be Shannon’s first guest, but A Spark of Heavenly Fire was chosen to be the first book featured on her new show: “The Authentic Woman – with Host Shannon Fisher – Perspectives on the Female Experience.”
Washington Irving wrote: “There is in every true woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.” As I read these words a decade ago, I could see her, a drab woman, defeated by life, dragging herself through her days in the normal world, but in an abnormal world of strife and danger, she would come alive and inspire others. And so Kate Cummings, the hero of my novel A Spark of Heavenly Fire was born. But born into what world?
I didn’t want to write a book about war, which is a common setting for such a character-driven story, so I created the red death, an unstoppable, bio-engineered disease that ravages Colorado. Martial law is declared, rationing is put into effect, and the entire state is quarantined. During this time when so many are dying, Kate comes alive and gradually pulls others into her sphere of kindness and generosity. First enters Dee Allenby, another woman defeated by normal life, then enter the homeless — the group hardest hit by the militated restrictions. Finally, enters Greg Pullman, a movie-star-handsome reporter who is determined to find out who created the red death and why they did it.
Kate and her friends build a new world, a new normal, while others, such as Pippi O’Brien, Greg’s fiancée, think of only of their own survival, and they are determined to leave the state even if it kills them.
The world of the red death brings out the worst in some characters while bringing out the best in others. Most of all, the prism of death and survival reflects what each values most. Kate values love. Dee values purpose. Greg values truth. Pippi, who values nothing, learns to value herself.
The women drive the book, their sparks of heavenly fire lighting up the bleak world of quarantined Colorado, showing us love in all its guises: caregiving, motherly love, friendship. romantic love, love of life.
It’s fitting that that this book is being highlighted because Shannon herself is a true woman who embodies the spark of heavenly fire the world so desperately needs.
So look for me online on March 2, 2014 at 8:00pm ET at “The Authentic Woman – with Host Shannon Fisher – Perspectives on the Female Experience.” I’m sure Shannon and I will have much to talk about!
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.