Some books are longer in the making than others. Sometimes inspiration strikes like lightning and the plot unfolds in a flash. Other times, it’s like watched a storm roll across the desert. It takes a long time in coming, but you can see it, feel it in the air and just as it hits you’re jazzed and ready to go.
I came up with the idea for the anthrax attack in the Redaction over a decade before I wrote it. The idea for a nuclear generating station came about when the media got wind of an unfortunate steam release from Palo Verde. That would be radioactive steam heading toward a major metropolitan area and yet no one learned about it until days later.
Evacuating a city of 5 million wouldn’t be easy in the best of times, so how could it be done? And so the story started coming together, bit by bit, piece by piece. Add in a little tidbit from the Discovery Channel’s Life After People about the spent nuclear fuel rods and everything clicked into place.
So I started to write. And when I was nearly finished, my friend’s father was invited to tour Palo Verde. And things began to unravel. You see Fukishima provided a bit of a wake up call for all those spent fuel rods and the powers that be began to pack them away. No more pools of water to boil off.
But I wouldn’t let it spoil a perfectly good story. Then gas prices began to rise. While Japan and Germany stand firmly on the anti-nuclear side, others began to see nuclear as a clean energy alternative. More stockpiles of spent fuel rods. A couple of weeks ago, Time even profiled several smaller prefab generating stations. And more story lived again.
Of course, the Time article mentioned something called Terrapower. http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html This innovative nuclear generating station would use up all those nasty spent fuel rods. In short, the rods would be packed tightly. They would burn like candles and provide energy. With our current stockpile, there would be enough energy for 200 years. Very cool