Welcome friends,

Thank you for visiting. I have a lot to talk about regarding the creation of the book, The Passage at Moose Beach. The writing, the art, the editing. As my first book, this was all new to me. The amount of work that goes into the process AFTER you write the story surprised me, but it was always fun. I’ll get to those stories, but to start with, I’d like to talk about, recognize, and acknowledge some of the true heroes in this world—firefighters. Why am I honoring firefighters in a book blog? Because, they deserve it and I am deeply indebted to them for saving my family’s cabin in the woods, the inspiration for this story.

A common question is, “Who is your hero?” Since the first time I was asked that question in my 20’s, I’ve answered that question with, “My father,” and it was true. My father was a great man. He was a high school teacher for many years before developing Lymphoma, cancer that spreads throughout your body, while I was still a teenager. The doctors gave him a few years to live, but he fought the disease for thirteen years before it took him, and he continued to teach through it all. He was dedicated to his family and his students and was my hero because of that, and I wanted to live the rest of my life in a manner that would make him proud.

Recently, I was asked that question again, “Who is your hero?” Once again my response was going to be, “My father.” But then I really started to think about it. My father was a great man in my eyes, and I miss him every single day. I think about all the things I would love to share with him today. He never saw Jurassic Park with dinosaurs that were right there on the movie screen! But he did read the book. And MP3 players—“Hey dad, I can fit my entire library of music, thousands of songs, right here on this little device the size of a cassette.” Forget about cell phones, DVDs, and electric vehicles! My dad was a tech geek, and I inherited that from him. I think we had the first VCR, a Betamax, on our block. He would be in awe of this seemingly alien technology we have, almost twenty-five years after his passing. I love him and miss him dearly. But would I call him “my hero”?

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.

When you read The Passage at Moose Beach, or if you have already read it, you will see more than one character take on the “hero” role. The smallest of things can be heroic in the right circumstance. But being heroic is different from being a hero. I understand that “hero” can have many different meanings for many people. For the homeless or the poor, a hero can be one type of person, while a professional athlete or a CEO would have another sort of hero. A survivor of sexual assault could have a very different hero from a person saved after being adrift at sea for a week. There is not just one type of person that would fit the definition of “hero,” yet almost anybody could fit the definition in the right circumstance.

When I took the time to think about it I realized that for me, the true heroes are those that put their lives on the line to save others. For example, Superman is not a hero to me because he’s bulletproof. He’s not putting his life on the line, except maybe when the villains use Kryptonite against him. He is certainly doing heroic things, but does that make him a hero? Not for me (which I understand is MY opinion and may not be shared by all.)

In July of 2018, California experienced the Mendocino Complex Fire, its largest wildfire in recorded history. Now, less than four months later, we have both the Woolsey Fire in Southern California and the Camp Fire in Northern California which is now classified as the most destructive fire in California history. Land is being destroyed, homes are being lost, but most importantly, lives are being lost. And several of those lives are firefighters. The locals who have been trapped and died because they couldn’t get out is tragic beyond belief and I grieve for them and their families. But there are lots of people who made a choice to go into those fires, to work in that grueling heat and unhealthy smoke, to try and save the land, the homes, the people, even the animals left behind. They are working through exhaustion against a force of nature that does not want to be stopped. To me, those are true real-life heroes.

The news likes to talk about the victims of wildfires, the victims being the people who lived there and lost their homes, vehicles, jobs, and loved ones. They are victims—there is no doubt about that. When I see families gathered in shelters, children looking lost with soot smudges on their faces, my heart goes out to them. Something I never see in the news is information about the families of firefighters killed in action. Men and women and children who no longer have a parent, a spouse, a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, because that person chose to put their life on the line to save another life. I may see a first and last name along with the picture of a firefighter who died, but for most the story ends there. It doesn’t end there for those families left behind.

My father, in his youth, was a wildland firefighter working for the US Forest Service in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. So he actually WAS one of my heroes because of that, but for different reasons than I first thought in my 20’s. The doctors blamed the chemicals he used and was exposed to during his firefighting days when he developed cancer. Even though he may not have died in the line of duty, in some ways, I am one of those people who lost a family member to wildfires.

In 2007, there was a massive forest fire that ravaged a large part of the Boise National Forest in Idaho where my family’s cabin is located. It came very close to destroying the cabin, along with many others. Without the heroic efforts of the wildland firefighters, I would have lost the cabin built by my great-grandfather. My inspiration for this story came from time spent in those woods. Without that cabin, The Passage at Moose Beach would not exist. I wanted to recognize this and give back to those firefighter families dealing with their own losses.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation

This wonderful organization works to support families of those wildland firefighters killed in the line of duty. In their words:

“When they pay the ultimate sacrifice…                              

Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s main focus is to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families. We honor and acknowledge past, present, and future members of the wildland firefighting community, and partner with private and interagency organizations to bring recognition to wildland firefighters.”

I have pledged to donate 5% of all my author proceeds from the sale of The Passage at Moose Beach to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for the life of the book. I hope my contribution can do some good for those left behind.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please visit https://wffoundation.org/ to learn more.

Who is your hero?

Michael Foster