IR– Which book are we talking about today?
RRR– Good day! I’m pleased to be here. We are talking about my latest release, Toxic Soup, an environmental thriller set in the dynamic Columbia River Gorge that runs between the two states of Washington and Oregon. The story involves the upriver Hanford Nuclear Reservation, its terrible history of environmental and human contamination, and a current-day death from a toxic radioactive spew at the facility. The victim is the brother of a feisty windsurfer who takes it upon herself to get justice for her brother’s wrongful death.
IR– Tell us about a favorite character from the book.
RRR– As the creator of my characters, I mesh with all of them. Each has their high points and flaws, like almost all human beings. One of the characters pivotal to Casey’s, the protagonist, scheme for vengeance whose company I particularly enjoyed is Little Bear. He is a burly Native American fisherman who befriends Casey at the saloon where she works and uses his boat to assist the plan they arrive on together. He, like her, has a grudge against Hanford, held for the damages done to the river and the wildlife connected to it. He has personal issues with Hanford too. Over the years, his tribe and his family have suffered health and livelihood problems. The “taste of their own medicine” creed comes into the story from him. He is deep and solid in his being, reserved but sharp in his communications, and he holds a tie to ancient spirits, conjuring a wolf spirit that bolsters Casey’s resolve to do what she must do.
IR– What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?
RRR– I knew that Hanford harmed its surroundings and the Columbia River, but in researching this novel, I discovered the depth of its depravity. I found out the details of its unbelievable actions at the beginning of its tenure and the number of lives and deaths impacted over Hanford’s 60 years. The dangerous and disastrous situation continues today while facts and warnings get ‘shoved under the rug’ and passed on as always. The novel uncovers all of this. The thread of Hanford’s untouchability running in the background motivates Casey to the end.
IR– What comes first for you – the plot or the characters?
RRR– The plot, or the idea, joined by the protagonist, comes first. Then, as the story refines itself, the supporting characters evolve. That is not to say that I might envision a character first and create a novel around them in another work. Regardless, I don’t put hard, fast rules on my creativity.
IR– How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?
RRR– Get writing. Put something down. Anything. The essence is to get the juices flowing. For me, one thing can lead to another. Unknown doors can open. The act of doing overtakes the inaction and anxiety of stagnation. So get the gears moving, and something will come today or the next time. Be gentle with yourself.
IR– What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
RRR– Have no fear. Give your best. Don’t worry about failure (however that is judged). Whatever you create is making something. We can only try our best and hope to learn from it. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and all that. Know that you won’t get it perfect on the first go. Write, write, write, allow yourself to experiment. Ramble if need be, then revise, revise, revise. It is much easier to have something down to work from than a blank slate.
IR– What are you working on in the near future?
RRR– Something uniquely different. I’m not about series and sequels. The novel I am presently working on is a colorful suspense novel set in the Caribbean that I have engaged with for many years. Sorry, no spoilers.
The Poisoning Must End
Toxic waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been poisoning the environment, human beings, and wildlife for more than six decades. When her brother dies a horrible death at Hanford, Casey Long, a kayaker and windsurfer by day and bartender by night in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon/Washington, swears to put an end to the upriver contamination. But how can she possibly take on the entrenched fortress of a facility?
After she confides in Little Bear, a bitter Native American fisherman, they contrive a dangerous plan. Joined by a peculiar mishmash of collaborators, they risk everything to save the environment and achieve justice for all injured parties, past and present.
Genre: Environmental Thriller
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: April 11, 2022
Number of Pages: 272
ISBN: 1509241167 (ISBN-13: 978-1509241163)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
When the abandoned reactor sites came into view, they swung their kayaks into a backwater eddy. Spooked ducks sprang into flight in front of them. Boats gliding, they studied the depth of the water, avoiding the chance of running aground. Before them, some sickly grasses appeared at the edge of the river. Was this it? Casey paddled closer, excitement rising. Pointing to a spot upon the bank, she called to Rex, “See that? See that? Is water trickling out of the ground over there?”
He removed his sunglasses and squinted. “You’re right. There is a wet spot over there.”
Straggly, yellowed grasses drooped away from the seeping water. They moved even closer to get a better view. A foam rose from the trickle of liquid and spread to a nasty orange and pink gunk smeared over exposed rocks. “I see it!” Rex cried out, a jolt of fear zapping through him. “Radioactivity!” he screamed, quickly backstroking. “You’ve got your evidence. Let’s get out of here! I don’t want to be anywhere near that stuff.”
She had her proof. Toxicity flowed into the river. How many other places existed? Perhaps beneath the water, the contamination was much worse. Untouchable Hanford is getting away with whatever they want. Something needed to be done, but what? Something not only for Charley but for the birds, the fish, and all the little creatures suffering at the hand of man’s dereliction of duty. She knew what she had to do.
Excerpt from Toxic Soup by RR Rowley. Copyright 2022 by RR Rowley. Reproduced with permission from RR Rowley. All rights reserved.
R R Rowley has lived coast to coast in the USA, in London, UK, and has spent many years on his farm in Grenada, West Indies. He has owned and operated several companies and was involved in start-ups. Currently, he resides in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.
Catch Up With RR Rowley:
BookBub – @robroyukusa
Twitter – @rrrowleywrites
Facebook – RR Rowley/Author
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Thanks for the interview.
Your next book sounds like fun! “a colorful suspense novel set in the Caribbean” Woohoo!