04 January 2017

A Flood of Ideas

by Robert Lopresti

The town where I live is usually pretty soggy, but this was the wettest October in recorded history.  Then, the first Saturday in November we got two and a half inches of rain.  And that was too much for the walls of my sixty-year old house.

I should explain that I live in a raised ranch, with what is known as a daylight basement.  And about half of that basement flooded on Saturday night.  Luckily, it was mostly the unfinished section.  We emptied at least seventy gallons out of there with wet vacs.
I collapsed around 1 AM but Terri stayed up most of the night.  When I got up to relieve her I found myself doing a mindless physical task while half awake.  And as some of you know, that is a perfect condition for a writer to start bouncing ideas off his skull.

* What would Shanks, my mystery writer character, do if his basement flooded?  Complain a lot, naturally.  It's what he does best.  But could he use that mess to solve a crime somehow?

* Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine just bought the third story in my "Bad Day" series, each of which is about a group of strangers in fictional Brune County getting tangled up in a crime.  What if my incompetent Brune County cop, Officer Kite, got called to a flooded house?

* What if a family turned off (or didn't repair) their sump pump, causing disaster to neighbors downhill?  A family feud begins...

* The cabinet in our back tool room got soaked and all the boxes of effluvia and paint cans had to be tossed.  What if a couple who was, say, renting a house, experienced the flooded basement and, in the process of cleaning up, found something they weren't supposed to see?

Hmm.  I like that one.  Maybe once things calm down I can wring out the computer keyboard and see what happens...


  1. Yipe! Glad things are okay! Yeah, I got a couple of ideas while helping my 80+ year-old parents take down their Christmas tree and realizing that those ornaments will be mine some day. Hmmmmmm.....

  2. So sorry to hear about the troubles here! ....but good thing your writer mind has already started turning this to good use. Glad all is working out OK!

  3. Sorry to hear about the flooded basement, but if one of your ideas turns into a story, that could provide a happy ending (to the flooded basement incident, not necessarily to the story). I like the last of your ideas best, too--very intriguing premise.

  4. Too bad about the flood and hope you can get the basement dried up pronto.

    I am reminded of Nora Ephron's mom's dictum: "IT's all copy"

  5. Rob, congrats on selling the third story in your Bad Day series to AHMM.

    In Sioux Falls, everyone had sump pumps, but it was illegal to pump that water into the street or the sewer system, so everybody pumped it back into their yard, which meant it came back into your basement. A constant cycle until enough water ran off the mostly flat land or else evaporated.

    Here in the Springs, houses down hill of others frequently have to re-landscape in heavy rain years, else running water flows over the tops of basement window wells and through your basement windows. No fun. In any case, I've done lots of wet vac and mopping, so you have our condolences.

  6. Ah, RT, you know this area well. That is indeed what they do. Back in 1993, when one-third of our town was evacuated, it all stank to high heaven of sump pumps and sewage, and Allan got blood poisoning from a mosquito bite.

    Anyway, my sympathies Rob, because a flooded basement is one of the circles of hell to me. But yes, it's all copy. I think you have a number of good ideas there, and I love the feuding neighbors one, myself, because there is a lot of it about. ;)

  7. Dang, Rob. You and Eve are definitely having problems in the crypt. But it could be a good thing you got water on the brain!

    Speaking of… I seem to recall a crime story that came about when a TVA-like project lowered the waters exposing towns flooded by the dam. Sorry, but I can’t recall anything beyond that premise.

    Congratulations on yet another sale!


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