I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of writing what you know, by fire-fighting novelist and interviewee Kurt Kamm.
Writing what you know
In 2008, I moved to Malibu CA. The city is well known for its beautiful beaches, beautiful people and multi-million dollar homes. What is less known is that Malibu suffers devastating wildfires on a regular basis. Twelve months of warmth and sunshine every year results in incredible brush growth in the hills.
Shortly after I moved in, a fallen powerline and 70 mile per hour winds set off a fire which roared through our canyon. At 4:30 AM, we had 15 minutes to evacuate. Two homes and a church on my street burned. The fire burned to my front door. A month later, a campfire started a fire in the next canyon that destroyed almost 100 homes and did $500 million in damage.
I decided I had to learn about the lives of firefighters.
Since 2008, I have been privileged to spend time with the Los Angeles County Fire Department and CalFire. Both organizations have let me attend their training academies, meet their personnel, do ride alongs, and face some fires.
I went through the training academy at Camp 8, where wildland firefighters are based with Blackhawk fire helicopters for quick response. I have visited Camp 13, where female inmates are trained to respond to wildfires. The result was my book ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK – A Wildland Firefighter’s Story. This was a story about a young man who trains at Camp 8 and loses his captain in a burnover on a mountainside.
I had the opportunity to attend a weeklong CalFire training session for arson investigators, and had the chance to go out into the field with LA County arson investigators as well. As a result, I was able to write RED FLAG WARNING- A Serial Arson Mystery. This story tells of a deranged arsonist trying to burn down Malibu. (There are people like that!)
I have just finished a stint with the fire paramedics, riding with them, visiting emergency rooms at local hospitals, the county morgue, and the UCLA Paramedic Training Center. As a result, I was able to write CODE BLOOD, my new novel about a fire paramedic who loses his first patient in an accident where her foot is severed and cannot be found. He sets out to find it and discovers an underworld in Los Angeles.
I am now attending hazardous material response classes and am writing my fourth novel, HAZARDOUS MATERIAL, about a firefighter who gets involved with biker gangs and meth labs.
I have had the incredible good fortune to spend time with hundreds of first responders. They are all dedicated, hard-working people whose mission is to save and help others. As a result, I have written books about these people based on my experiences. I’m writing what I know – and I am learning every day.
I think we’re all still learning but not in such dramatic circumstances. Thank you so much, Kurt!
Kurt Kamm has lived in Malibu CA for several years with his wife. He was previously a financial executive and semi-professional bicycle racer. He is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School. He has used his experience in several devastating local wildfires and access to CalFire and Los Angeles County Fire Department to write mystery novels about the lives of firefighters and paramedics. His first novel, One Foot in the Black-A Wildland Firefighter’s Story, was self-published in 2008. His second novel, Red Flag Warning – A Serial Arson Mystery, was published in May 2010 by Aberdeen Bay. Red Flag Warning has won several literary awards. His third novel, Code Blood, was published in November 2011. He maintains an author / first responder website and blog at http://www.kurtkamm.com which has some spectacular fire pictures and messages written by first responders. Kurt also offer free downloads of chapters from my first three books. And above all he says, “Stay safe!”
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with author, speaker and columnist Morgan St James – the two hundred and eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.