I live in Oklahoma, where it sometimes seems it’s more important to know everything about the starting quarterback than it is to know everything about the English language. Consequently, I’m often asked where I get my ideals. I used to respond with a correction: Ideas! Ideassssss! But then I just started answering honestly. I’d say that I get my ideals from my parents. If they gave me that strange look, which was every time, I’d say that I get my ideas from dreams, or from being inspired by something I read in the paper or saw on the news, or even something I read in someone else’s book or story. Sometimes, as in the case of my story in Midnight Walk, an idea literally just falls from the sky.
Before 1974, some people erroneously believed that the town of Emporia, Kansas was protected from tornadoes because it was situated between the Cottonwood and Neosho rivers, and tornadoes did not cross water. Emporia was struck again in 1991. In March of 2000, an F-3 twister hit the downtown area of Fort Worth, also believed to be “immune” from a tornado strike. Several high-rise buildings were heavily damaged, with large panes of glass raining down from the sky for days afterwards. It was shortly after this incident when I first heard The Bear Who Swallowed the Sky roaring in the distance. I knew then that I had to tell its story.