Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Jaws of Life by Laura K. Curtis

I'm super happy to have Laura K. Curtis on the blog today.  Not only is she the light of my life... *giggles* she's the tweeter behind the beginning of the Feeding Kate campaign, and a woman I'd love to spend a week walking the streets of New York City with.  Her story, The Jaws of Life, found in the Feeding Kate anthology, has firefighter Kate reminiscing about her first extrication, solving crossword puzzles with an elderly Mr. Simmons in her free time, and redefining what it means to save a life. Laura's post today gives us a small look inside the world of firefighting; the men, the women... the heroes.

When we first started talking about creating Feeding Kate, and my tweet stream was full of talk of jaws, my husband had just been through extrication classes with the local fire department. So naturally, all I could think of was the Jaws of Life (officially known as a Hurst extrication tool). He loves to take classes which is good, because it means that over the years he’s acquired a useful set of skills with the FD. And I am super-glad I don’t have to do it, since the last one he took—pump ops—was all math…and math is definitely not my strong suit!

The Fire Department is a big part of my life. Not only is my husband an engineer and driver for his company, he’s their commissioner as well. And then there’s the fact that I’m treasurer of the Women’s Auxiliary. Which, if you knew me at all, might just make you laugh yourself sick.

Fire departments are all different. In fact, fire companies are all different. In my smallish town, we have four companies: two engine companies, a hook and ladder, and what we refer to as “fire police.” Each of those houses has its own character. People happy in one would likely be miserable in another. And our town’s whole department—while set up similarly to the nearby towns’—is still unique.

Some fire departments in the US—mostly in the big, crowded, urban areas—are full-time, paid departments. Some have members who get paid by the call they make. Some have officers and drivers who get paid by the call. But the fact is that the majority of this country’s firefighters are volunteers. Men and women who train for hours and risk their lives for no financial reward. It’s easy to idolize that. It’s a really big deal. But I have a kind of cognitive dissonance when it comes to the FD. I see how heroic it is that these guys (because our town has no female firefighters) do what they do, but I also see the underside: the frat boy aspects and the occasional drunken antics.

Anyway, I tried to put some of all of that into “The Jaws of Life.” Both the heroic and the not-so-heroic. I hope you enjoy it.

Laura K. Curtis has always done everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she's chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty. And she wrote her first book in first grade. It was released in (notebook) paperback to rave reviews and she's been trying to achieve the same level of acclaim ever since. She lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and a pack of wild Irish Terriers, which has taught her how easily love can coexist with the desire to kill. Her first novel will be out in November, 2013, from Penguin.

Feeding Kate: A Crime Fiction Anthology is available from Amazon. All proceeds from Feeding Kate benefit the Lupus Foundation of America.

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