When I was writing Grace Unmasked, I did some research on what historical events had taken place in 1883. I was hoping to incorporate something of interest, of course, to add to the historical ambiance. The eruption of the volcano on Krakatoa caught my eye, and triggered a childhood memory. My parents had taken the family to see a disaster movie entitled Krakatoa, East of Java, and I’d been riveted. The plot of the movie didn’t stand out to me as much as the special effects at the end, when the filmmakers sought to portray the explosive eruption and the resulting tsunami. I found a copy of the movie and watched it again. Considering what was available in terms of special effects in 1969, I was still impressed.
I did a little more research on the eruption itself, purchasing a used copy of Simkin and Fiske’s Krakatau 1883. In it, there are many fascinating eyewitness accounts of the event, and facts about the aftereffects. For example, the violent eruption destroyed most of the island of Krakatau. The explosion could be heard over 1/13th of the earth’s surface. The resulting ash cast the Sunda Strait (which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean) into darkness for almost 24 hours, and giant waves over 40 meters (appx. 131 feet) above sea level destroyed everything in their path. In addition, over 36,000 people were killed. The volcanic dust veil created spectacular atmospheric effects over a vast distance and lowered global temperatures as much as 1/2 degree Celsius in the following year. In fact, temperatures didn’t return to normal until five years later.
News of the disaster traveled quickly because of the telegraph system, and papers around the world carried the story the day after the massive eruption had occurred.
Now, Grace Unmasked is set in England, which is nowhere near Krakatau. So how did this event find its way–albeit indirectly–into the narrative? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
On the heels of an unjust accusation, Grace flees from her country village to the anonymity of London. Although she intends to seek sanctuary with her cousin Joe Fiddick, she discovers he’s also suffered a setback and needs more help than she can offer. Desperate, she solicits assistance from Joe’s friend–the notorious rake, Lord Henley. Will the price of the handsome baron’s help be more than she’s willing to pay?
Grace Unmasked is available for the Kindle HERE.