Starting a new novel is such a thrill. Having finished the Apron Strings Trilogy, I am excited about a whole new cast of characters, problems, and situations. I am just creating my characters for my new novel, entitled at least, for now, Shooting in the Dark at Scarce Birds. The title comes from a comment Albert Einstein made in regards to the probability of achieving particle bombardment that would make the use of atomic power practical in the near future. Clearly, he thought it would be difficult if not impossible.
I set the novel in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1943. The city of Oak Ridge was created for The Manhattan Project by the Clinton Engineer Works under the auspice of the Army Corps of Engineers explicitly to build a bomb before the Germans. As you might well imagine, Oak Ridge was a big fat secret.
The Manhattan Project was a direct result of a letter Einstein wrote in 1939 to Franklin Roosevelt informing him of the research in harnessing the power of a uranium chain reaction. The power created by a chain reaction could be used to construct a bomb of eminence magnitude. The scientist’s concern was that the Germans were actively researching this possibility. Einstein implored the president to do likewise.
The fascination for me is that in less time than it takes for a political party to derail Oak Ridge, initially referred to as Clinton Engineer Works, transformed from a quiet farming valley in the backwoods of Tennessee populated a fewl hundred farms to a city of 70,000 people entirely off the map. Highly suspicious locals of which there many noticed that trainloads of supplies regularly went in, and nothing came out. In a remarkable span of three years, the largest building in the world at that time covering over 37 acres was designed, constructed and up and running while theoretical physics was taken from the laboratory into full-fledged production with almost the entire country complete unaware. Imagine the industry and human sacrifice!
People recruited from all over the country showed up for the work; a precious few knew what the job entailed, fewer still understood the implications of that work. I love the idea of secrets in a secret city. I’m looking forward to exploring how keeping secrets impact my characters, all of whom, of course, have secrets of their own. While I completely understand and appreciate the need for secrecy in such an endeavor, I believe that secrets can and do cause major complications in life and am fascinated to discover just how in the lives of my characters. I hope you will be too!