Saturday, August 08, 2009

Caroline Fyffe - Where The Wind Blows

Today, I'm pleased to introduce the Killer Fiction community to Caroline Fyffee, a debut author at Dorchester whose book, Where the Wind Blows, has just hit the bookshelves. Take it away, Caroline!

* * * * * *

What is with Romance Writers of America and false alarms? You wouldn’t think the two go together, but they must. The only experience I’ve ever had with a bomb or fire scare in a luxury hotel has been at an RWA National Conference.

Does anyone remember Dallas, 2007? We were awakened from our sleep by an alarm followed by a very calm computerized female voice advising us not to gather our belongings, but to evacuate immediately. Dread coiled around me as I remembered our room was on the fourteenth floor! My roommate was just barely awake when I stated pulling at her to hurry as she tried to dress. I flung on a robe and pulled open the door. At any moment we were going to be blown to smithereens. As we hustled down the hall with a handful of other people we didn’t know, the alarm still echoed up and down. Doors opened, some people just looked out, others hurried past us in the opposite direction and I wondered which of us was going the wrong way. At the stairwell we began our descent, still hearing the alarm. Within a few minutes the only thing we could hear was our breathing and the sound of our hearts beating in our ears.

Thank goodness my roommate was levelheaded because I’m not at all. She kept telling me it was just a false alarm, not to worry. In the parking garage was where our flight of stairs deposited us. We swooped in a group, much like a school of fish, hunting for an exit. The first exit we found was locked. A fluke? Who locks exits? Apparently luxury hotels. Yes, all the exits were locked! I wasn’t the only one thinking tons of cement would soon be smashing us like pancakes.

Washington, DC was my second experience. Although nerve-wracking this time wasn’t nearly as frightening because, one-now I was experienced, two-it happened in the middle of the day, and three-I was only on the second floor and easily took the open-air escalator down and out. Without a doubt the worst shock was when I realized I’d gone off without my iPhone!! Thankfully another writer picked it up for me and was there waiting at the conference room where she knew I would return looking for it.

Were you in either of those evacuations? If yes, what was going through your head? Or has there been another time you’ve had a close call?

On a funny note several weeks later I learned that one of the people I’d been trapped in the parking garage with was an agent I’d been querying. LOL. If I’d only known! Talk about a captive audience!


My book is now out! In celebration I’m giving away a copy of, Where The Wind Blows, to a poster. Also, if you want to enter my Under The Western Sky Contest that’s running August 1st to December 1st., all you need to do is watch my Book Preview on my website, and write me a last line for my story. We’re looking to have fun. Grand prize is a night stay in an ol’ western bunkhouse under the stars. Check the details at


Refhater said...

We have fire alarms go off where I work at least once a week. We've been told that they are only tests of the system and to continue on with what we're doing. We joke around that if there really is a fire we'll all burn up because we'll all think its yet another system test. In the 6 years that I've worked there, there has been 3 "real" fires and we never left the building.

Congrats on the new release and welcome to K.F.

Kissa Starling said...

I've been through one hotel evacuation due to worrisome teens. And my husband went to a conference once where they evacuated like six times during the same night. Crazy! Congratulations on your new release!


Caroline said...

Good morning, Refhater!!

I'm really happy to be here today at Killer Fiction!! I visit quite often and enjoy your diverse topics.

You are instructed to ignore the alarm?? And it goes off every week? Three REAL fires…! You must have nerves of steel.

For me, continuing on working when the alarm was going off would be extremely difficult –LOL--and would cause tremendous stress on my mental state. :( I don't think I could do it. But then, I’m pretty spooky, too. You aren’t in the luxury hotel business, are you?

I see I failed to put my web address in the original post to make it easy to enter my Under A Western Sky Contest---- so here it is

Thanks for coming by....

Caroline said...

Kissa--So, what this means is it's fairly common in the hotel business world? :(

I suppose with so many people it would be a hard thing to control. Pulling the alarm for fun, smoking in a non-smoking room, working on the system, motion detection, and I’d assume a big percent of malfunction.

Six time in one night. I don’t think I’d go to sleep at all. LOL

Thanks for joining in and thanks for the congratulations!! I have to say it's wonderful!! :)

Joyce said...

You had a fire alarm in D.C? Some years ago I tagged along with my husband to a conference he went to at the same hotel RWA conferenced at this year.
We were wakened in the night by the fire alarm. When I looked into the hall, no other person was heeding the screech. Shortly a voice came over a speaker in our room saying it was a false alarm.
Problem was, it went off twice more...after we had just dozed off.

catslady said...

I use to work on the 48th floor and got stuck in an elevator - wouldn't have been too bad but I was there with my one boss and this young girl that was totally hysterical - we both wanted to slap her lol. I also was meeting my husband for a late night football game and had on all these clothes - I wanted to do a strip tease lol. We were there for hours but it seemed like days.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Washington DC must be the place for panic. My very first conference, I am guessing nine years ago maybe, the fire alarm went off around 3 am. We all rushed first to the elevators and then turned around for the stairs. The alarm stopped and we were herded back to our rooms, false alarm. Teens had been arrested for doing it. Ever since then, I always know where the staircase is.

Gemma Halliday said...

Somehow I missed the Dallas alarm – either I was on a floor that wasn’t affected or I’m a dangerously heavy sleeper. I did hear that this year’s fire alarm went off right in the middle of a steamy erotic workshop. I heard several people say the subject was just too hot for the hotel to handle. ;)

Congrats on your release! It looks fabulous!


Caroline said...

Joyce, after others saying they have experienced this several times and you with your husbands conference that was at the same DC hotel I’m thinking it is much more common than I had originally thought.

A friend of mine asked on of the staff about it in DC and they said it happened a lot. How in the world would they ever know if there was a REAL emergency?

Thanks for r stopping by!! :)

chey said...

Congrats on the new release Caroline!
I wasn't in either of those evacuations. I have been in various places when a fire alarm went off though.

Caroline said...

Hi Catslady, my hat is off to you! If I were stuck in an elevator for hours I’d be the one who was hysterical. I’m a tad claustrophobic, and had to give up scuba diving the last few years because being under the water was too closed in for me!! I’d be right there with the little girl and I don’t think you’d like me too much! LOL

My sister was just in the Kentucky flooding this past week and was on the way, to the airport she being a flight attendant, when the elevator doors opened in the basement water started flooding in. She was so frightened. It was up to her mid-calf when someone finally helped her with her bag out!!

Thanks so much for sharing your story today!

Virginia said...

I have never been where they set off fire alarms, but I did work at a place where they sent us all to the bathroom because of a tornado. It was a creepy feeling. I just thought of something I work in a magazine factory one time and they had a fire and sent us all outside in the middle of winter. I have forgot about that one.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Hey Caroline! I was talking on my cell to DH in my room when the alarm went off. I just grabbed everything and ran. Seems like almost every conference I attend there is a false alarm. Maybe it's moi?

Congrats on your debut release! Please don't enter me in the contest, just wanted to stop by to say hello and wish you best of luck!

Caroline said...

Hi Paisley--thanks for coming over!!

I do that too, look for the exits and how far they are from my room's door, and especially if I'm in a high-rise.

Pranksters!! Oh, to be young again...

Caroline said...

Hi Gemma~
I think you are right. It just affected a certain tower, and even then, just a few floors. But, to those of us involved it sounded like the whole world could hear.

Too funny about the steamy workshop! That would be a first...

Thanks for your congrats!


Caroline said...

Well, Chey, I’m glad to hear that. The fewer the better!

Thanks for coming by!

Caroline said...

Virginia, that would be hard to take. Waiting for the tornado to hit. Very scary!!

Caroline said...

Hey Bonnie!!

Was that YOU who set that off! You naughty girl. LOL

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who experienced it. I was starting to think I’d dreamt it all.

Great talking to you. Miss You!

Caroline said...

Hey Bonnie!!

Was that YOU who set that off! You naughty girl. LOL

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who experienced it. I was starting to think I’d dreamt it all.

Great talking to you. Miss You!

Christie Craig said...

Hi Caroline,

I just wanted to pop and say thank again for visiting us at Killer Fiction.

And I have to tell you that some people have accused me setting those alarms. I'm innocent.


Caroline said...

Christie thank YOU and Killer Fiction for having me today—it’s been really fun.

I’m sorry for the sporadic posting but I’ve had a rather strange day and haven’t had internet the whole time. It could be the topic of a whole other blog.

Winner of Where the Wind Blows is ---drum roll—Virginia! Woo Hoo!!!

Virginia, please send me your mailing address to

And Christie, no more setting off alarms!! LOL

Phyllis Bourne said...

Hi Caroline. I wasn't in Dallas, but ironically I'm staying in a hotel and just returned to my room after a "everybody out" false alarm.

Still in my jammies, I grabbed my laptop just in case because no way I could lose this morning's writing.

EmilyBryan said...

I was in that Dallas stairwell with you Caroline and the worst thing about it was having to walk back in through the lobby in my pj's! Then in DC, I was in the fabulous Sherry Thomas's workshop and my biggest concern there was that I'd miss some of what she had to share with us.

A month after 9/11, I was in London, tagging along playing tourist while my DH was working. I was down in the London Tube, going to one museum or another, when an eerily calm voice came over the speaker advising us that there was a bomb threat on the station and we we were to make our way out immediately.

There was no screaming. No stampede. The Brits and I all turned as one and calmly marched up legions of stopped escalators (they'd been halted due to the threat) No one spoke, but I'm sure every heart was pounding and not just from the stairs. The Twin Towers disaster was so fresh in everyone's mind.

When I reached the surface, I hailed a cab and headed back to our hotel. But I was so proud of my English cousins (my family came here in the 1600's so they were probably in trouble in England, but I still claim a British heritage!). The way we all responded to a possible panic gave me hope for people in general.

Caroline said...

LOL---Phyllis, I can't believe it!!

So, something just came to me. Maybe it's not a RWA thing but really a novelist thing?? Does that sound logical?

On the other hand, I feel for the poor hotels trying to keep everyone safe in these turbulent times.

Have a restful Sunday--if you can.
Thanks for your comment!!


Caroline said...

Emily--small world! Wished I'd known you back then. We could have given each other mental support!! I also was in my bathrobe and really didn't want to go into that lobby. Some people didn't even know ANYTHING was going on....ARRRGGGG...

How scary. Your subway story trumps the Dallas stairwell tenfold. I would be so frightened. I hail you for your stanch nerves and fortitude. Thank God there was not an explosion!

Thank you for sharing that.

See you on Monday at your blog!!


Kayla Westra said...

Hey, roomie! I'm just really glad you didn't share with me that you were thinking about a bomb when we evacuated that night. I might have been more in a hurry (or I might not - I was pretty sleepy!). Hubby worked in the hotel biz for years, so my first thought was false alarm. But the locked doors in the parking garage was not fun. You left out the crawling out through the bushes part! I bet we looked like quite the crew!

Congrats on the fun week you are having! Kayla