April Henry Tells why she wrote this book:
After I read news stories about a group of hikers was trapped by the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017, I knew immediately that I wanted to put fictional hikers in a similar situation. The real group of hikers trapped at Punchbowl Falls numbered over a hundred, but that’s far too many to follow for a book. I cut it down to about a dozen.
In real life, as in the book, people who had planned on doing an easy three mile round-trip trek to a swimming hole suddenly found themselves forced to hike over twenty miles on much more treacherous trails, much of it at night.
I was fascinated by the idea of this disparate group of people having to pull together if they are to survive. And after writing books featuring serial killers, it was kind of fun to write one where the serial killer is nature. I wanted the characters to survive everything the environment might throw at them, so I brainstormed scenarios with a search and rescue leader. He told me some crazy true stories about the Eagle Creek Fire. One was about a large tree that toppled and torpedoed down a couple thousand feet of scree slope, which sheared off all its limbs and turned into a giant log missile. I used that in the book.
I decided that my main character had survived a house fire as a child, so I researched house fires, burn units, and trauma therapy.
For additional research, my husband and I hiked in the unburned side of the Gorge in Washington State so that I could take pictures and make mental notes.
I also became certified in wilderness first aid.
The fire struck close to home. In fact, if the winds had shifted, it could have reached Portland. Even so, it burned for weeks. On many days, my car was coated in ash. The Columbia Gorge is considered one of the jewels of Oregon, but now the trees that used to stand sentinel on the hills are nothing but blackened stubs. Surviving a wild fire unfortunately continues to be a timely topic, as the summer of 2020 saw even fiercer wildfires burning in California, Oregon and Washington.
April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.