Reviews: We've all seen them and we've all probably bought a book (or more) because of them. Reviews can be powerful, and even if they're wholly subjective, there's great value to them. Reading a good review of a book we're interested in is kind of like hearing a friend whose taste we respect tells us good things about the book: It makes us want to read it.
I have been blessed to have received some pretty strong praise for my book so far. Mitchel Zuckoff, #1 New York Times bestselling author of 13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, called it "as powerful and consuming as the elemental force at the heart of this real-life drama." Héctor Tobar, author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, described it as a "riveting, pulse-pounding account of an American tragedy; and also a meditation on manhood, brotherhood and family love." Vicki Croke, New York Times bestselling author of Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II, said that "in evoking the bonds among these men" – the Granite Mountain Hotshots – "Santos uses her gifts to sift triumph from tragedy." There have been other reviews, and they're all very meaningful. But one of them stands out. It's a review I got from Joe Woyjeck, whose son, Kevin Woyjeck, was among the 19 brave men who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013. Joe, recently retired as captain of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, was writing to a friend and fellow firefighter who had asked him about my book. Joe shared the message with me, and gave me permission to publish it here:
Chip, Of all of the literary pieces that I have read relating to the death of the 19, (in my opinion) this is the best book so far. I can not speak for the other families but our experience with Fernanda was outstanding. She asked good questions and more importantly she listened to our answers. Fernanda cried with us and Fernanda laughed with us as we told her about Kevin, Bobby, Maddie, Anna and me. In her book Fernanda talks about the men, who they were and more. Her book does not read like a book that was created out of all of the newspaper articles that were written about the fire and squished into a book. In my opinion it is a good read, Fernanda did her homework and cared more about getting out a quality product than just getting a book out quick. I recommend this book. Joe Woyjeck
I interviewed families, best friends and colleagues of all of the 19 men. I had a responsibility to accurately convey the words and emotions contained in the stories they told me. Also, I care for them, deeply, and I have great respect for them and the Granite Mountain Hotshots. I hope you will too once you read my book. This is a picture of Joe and Kevin on the day they bumped into each other on a call in L.A. County. (Kevin was an EMT at the time.) I can see the pride in Joe's smile, and the joy in Kevin's.
WHY – AND HOW – I WRITE
The key to writing a good story is knowing what you don’t know and finding the right people and documents to help you learn it. You have a fundamental question that leads to a bunch of other questions that need to be answered so that your fundamental question makes sense. This is how I write.
Follow along with Fernanda and get occasional stories.