F I R E
from H E A D F I R E, a novel (in progress)
In the 1980’s, at the height of put-it-out-no-matter-what fire policy in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, an eco-terrorist fireman wages war on a property developer, and in the process exposes his dual nature as defender of a vital ecosystem and lone wolf with a distrust of authority.
“Forget everything you know, or think you know, about New Jersey. Forget the industrial north, Newark Airport, the Turnpike. Delve instead into spindly pines and navigate with some difficulty the lanes of gray, because it is summer and the sand is thick. You could take the I-76 to NJ-42 south, until somewhere at the entrance to the 42, you cross the New Jersey Turnpike. Soon, you’ll be doing eighty miles an hour on the Atlantic City Expressway, and as you pass Sicklerville―though you won’t know exactly―cast your eyes left, and imagine you can penetrate the layers of pine like wallpaper. ”
You may think you are looking at a stand of trees, but look closer.
HEADFIRE’s protagonist is a Spartan living, Thoreau-quoting renegade who harbors a special feeling for pines, cedar stands, birds, animals and the flora of his wilderness home. He’s also a firefighter for the New Jersey forestry, and he worries about development that’s carving up the woods.
W A T E R
The New Jersey Pine Barrens is special for so many reasons, not least for its water, 17 trillion gallons of fresh water in the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer.
If you know the roads, as you drive,
imagine all that water right there beneath you ~
In writing HEADFIRE, water is a constant inspiration, an unavoidable element. In such a watery place there are constant reminders: in the blueberries that thrive in a shallow water table, in the cranberries that require flooding at certain times of year.