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“frozen fire” of the title) from its undersea bed in the Caribbean to the surface as a source of ostensibly clean fuel. Methane-hydrate mining, by the way, has been discussed in the energy industry for years, but is still spoken of in the future tense, because no one has yet devised a feasible, cost-effective way of bringing it from the sea floor to the surface…I just made up a bunch of stuff about the process.”

Frozen Fire was published in 2010. In May 2011, Marianna read a possible explanation for the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil-drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. “Methane ice had dissolved into gas when it met water in the drilling tube, and the resulting bubble of gas began to rise…By the time it neared sea level, the force and momentum of this bubble of gas blasted the water in the tube 240 feet into the air–roughly the height of a 24-story building. The methane gas that followed the water out of the tube met an ignition source and blew up the rig, killing 11 workers and injuring many more.

“I read about a methane bubble being responsible for killing almost a dozen people, and millions of marine creatures, damaging thousands of square miles of ocean, not to mention miles of coastline and wetlands, and endangering human health for what no doubt will be time measurable in decades, not unlike the threat scenario in my book. And I read about the various and occasionally wild ideas suggested to cap the well and contain the damage—the same ones my characters toss around as possible means to solve the problem of the fictional methane leak. At the time I was writing the book, though, they were the most outlandish ‘fixes’ I could conjure.”

My own experiences are dull compared to fires, sinking ships, dead bodies, and ecological disasters, but then, I write primarily romances. When my first novel was published in 1993, my then-husband and I lived in a 1960s ranch-style house in a hilly, tree-covered area of North Carolina. We intended to retire there. I expected we’d stay married for life. We were childless and planned to remain so.

In my romances, the heroine and hero are often linked by their attempts to protect and/or raise children.

In my first novel, The Sure Promise, the heroine takes in two children abandoned by their father after the mother’s death. Heroines in other books raise their sister’s children or enter a marriage-of-convenience to help the hero raise his siblings. The Sure Promise and the five books following it are set on the Minnesota prairie in the 1870s through 1890s. I grew up on the edge of the prairie in Western Minnesota and was determined to never live on the prairie again.

My marriage ended suddenly in 1997. I returned to Minnesota, but not the prairie. In 2004, 11 years after my first book was released, I met Joe. Six weeks later he gained custody of his two children, and the four of us began life in a house built in the 1880s on the Minnesota prairie. Four months before I met Joe, I proposed a novella with a heroine who taught school on the Minnesota prairie in the 1800s. When I wrote that novella a year later, I could look out the window of the home I shared with Joe and see the one-room schoolhouse children in our house had attended over 100 years ago.

The year before I met Joe, my novella From Pride to Bride was published. It’s the only story I’ve set in Wyoming, and the only one with a cowboy hero. Joe once lived in the area of my hero’s make-believe Wyoming town. Did I mention he’s a cowboy—the first I met—who spent many years on his father’s ranch?

Sometimes it feels as though I am living my stories, albeit 100-plus years later. How and why do things happen that make it seem we’ve written the future?

“I have profound intuitions about people and events,” best-selling author Taylor Caldwell was quoted in Jess Stern’s 1973 book The Search for a Soul: Taylor Caldwell’s Psychic Lives. Caldwell was known for amazingly accurate novels set in Biblical times, for an unexplained knowledge of the past rather than the future. “But every novelist is profoundly intuitive,” she continues. “I often reread books I have written, and have been astonished by knowledge in them which I never knew I possessed, and insights that jolt me. Where do these come from? Genetic and racial memory? Again, what does that mean? It is only confusion compounded by confusion. Giving a phenomenon a label does not explain it.”

Maybe Alfred Einstein explained it when he said, “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

“But something in us knows,” Dorothy Gilman insisted in A New Kind of Country. “This something—the unconscious or the subconscious—may prove to be the rudder and sail of our lives, guiding and instructing us out of a knowledge that jumps across all our time concepts.”   

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