July 30, 2014
Everyone, please welcome guest F.J. Thomas to Everybody Needs a Little Romance!
When I talk to readers about my book, Lost Betrayal, the horrific details of several scenes in the book always come up. They ask how I could write such heart breaking and graphic scenes when I’m as passionate as I am about horses. The truth is that the inspiration for Lost Betrayal is just as gruesome as the scenes themselves.
It took me ten years to write Lost Betrayal, and the catalyst for the story came from an indirect experience I had when Hurricane Floyd hit years ago. The inspiration that spurred me to finish the book, however, came when the tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma, last year.
I was at the barrel racing futurity in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, when the tornadoes went through Moore, Oklahoma. We were camping on the show grounds in a living-quarters horse trailer and our horses were housed in the metal shed row stalls. At one point in time we were under a tornado warning from the same storm system as it headed east.
The tornado sirens went off, and there were no underground shelters for us or our horses to go into. We just had to ride it out the best we could in the kitchen of one the buildings while our horses rode it out in the thin metal building, and others rode it out in the temporary vinyl stalls staked out in the parking lot. Let me tell you it was awfully scary for a gal from Tennessee that’s not used to tornadoes!
The next day, Moore, Oklahoma, was all over the news. I saw the devastation of the horse farm that had been hit, saw the dead horses and heard the stories from the farm help that had gone through the storm. Remembering the experience from Hurricane Floyd, my heart ached to go help personally since it was only a couple hours away. That’s when I knew I had to finish the book.
I came home from the barrel race more inspired than ever to finish writing the story that had never left my heart in over a decade. I knew it was a story that had to be told, and it was a story that had a purpose – to bring more awareness to large animal rescue.
It was through Hurricane Floyd that I learned that large animals of all kinds are the last to be rescued in a disaster. The harsh reality is that in a disaster scenario, large animal rescue is not a high priority because people and small animals can be rescued much easier. Additionally, large animal rescue requires special skills and experience. Most people are not adept at dealing with a twelve-hundred-pound animal that is scared and can’t be reasoned with.
Another thing that I learned is that the majority of the public never hears about the needs that large animals have in a disaster. Entities such as the Red Cross and the small animal Humane Society do a great job of publicizing the needs of people and small animals. However, the needs of large animal rescue efforts commonly never even make it to the media, partially because it’s a need the general public doesn’t relate to, but also because rescue groups don’t have the financial backing and aren’t as well organized.
My hope in writing the realistic and shocking details in Lost Betrayal is that it brings to light the reality of large animals in a disaster, and that people will start seeking out ways to help even if they don’t have special skills. Just bringing more awareness to what really happens in a disaster, such a tornado, is a step in the right direction.
If you’re near the Oklahoma area and looking for a way to get involved in large animal rescue, Oklahoma Large Animal First Responders (OLAFR) is a Facebook group that started as a result of the Moore, Oklahoma, tornadoes last year. If you have a Facebook account you can visit them at https://www.facebook.com/OklahomaLargeAnimalFirstResponders.
TLAER (Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue) is another great association to contact to get information and make connections. You can find out more about them at http://tlaer.org/.
One last resource that I’ll mention is the large animal veterinary programs at colleges. Sometimes they can be a great way to connect on a local level. In a disaster, depending on location, colleges are often the first resource that authorities will turn to when looking to house or treat large animals.
If you’d like to find out more about the book inspired by a disaster, you can purchase Lost Betrayal on Amazon. You can also find out a little more information about my experience with Hurricane Floyd at my blog, Musings from the Leadrope and also at Talking In The Barn.
About F.J. Thomas
A cowgirl at heart, F.J. Thomas resides in east Tennessee on her horse farm with her husband Steve and their menagerie of horses, cats, and dogs. Working full time in the healthcare industry, F.J. spends the rest of her time judging open horse shows and competing in anything from huntseat to barrel racing and ranch events every chance she gets.
F.J. started writing in high school and never looked back. She’s written articles that have appeared in America’s Horse and Hoofbeats. Her real-life pursuit of the cowgirl lifestyle has provided plenty of first-hand experience and inspiration for writing.