In my case, I originally wrote in the weather theme in “The Mighty Quinn” as part of a “What outrageous stuff can I throw at my home state?” kind of thing rather than realistic stuff. I blew up Mount Mansfield into a volcano because it was a fun image I had in my head since I was a teenager (which was a loooonnnng time ago). There it would be on cold, sharp mornings, like a headless lion covered with snow, as I took the bus or drove to school in my beat-up, baby-blue Ford pickup, and I'd think, “Wouldn't it be cool if Mount Mansfield were a volcano?” Just for disaster movie kicks.
I had similar thoughts about unleashing a hurricane on Vermont, partly fueled by the memory of one such storm back in the 80s that had crawled off the Atlantic up through Massachusetts and New Hampshire to collapse and die, improbably, on top of the Green Mountains. As an old-time New Englander of a zillion generations, I'm no more fazed by the idea of hurricanes than Midwesterners are by tornadoes. Hurricanes are a fact of life for the Atlantic Seaboard. But for them to punch so far inland as Vermont is rare. We get thunderstorms, blizzards and the odd ice storm, not hurricanes. Not directly.
As [Nan Carreira] stepped from the motel hallway onto the sidewalk, she could see what the weather forecasters were getting so excited about. The wind was up and the rain was going horizontal. It was also much warmer than it normally would be in April. Vermont had been the state to get a winter without a summer back in 1816, thanks to a volcanic eruption in the Pacific. She shivered. It seemed like too much of a coincidence. If a hurricane did push up this far, even in a weakened state, it was going to be a mess, with all that rain on top of the usual spring flooding from melting snow. A real big mess. Murder on the daffodils. She just hoped that Quinn was right and she was wrong about his powers having meteorological implications.
Later, Quinn reflects on the mess that is partly an unintended result of his own wild magic and internal weather:
The state, from this vantage point, looked like hell, and pretty much the way I felt. Trees up and down the hillside were torched and twisted and burned up by lava flows. I'd just been damned lucky I'd smothered the volcano before I'd been hit and killed by a pyroclastic blast. Down in Chittenden Valley, where I'd been, trees lay flattened still, by a hurricane, for miles around. Vermont wouldn't be sad to see the back of me, that was for sure. I'd be lucky to get out before they lynched me.
The funny thing is that the storm that strikes Vermont in the novel is all about balance. It wasn't until quite late in my revision process (thanks in part to the merry critters over at Permuted Press' The Pit) that I hit on a connection between several elements (so to speak) in the story. Critters kept asking, “Where does the energy go when Quinn sucks it up?” and that's when it clicked that I already had those consequences in place. I'd just thrown them in at random for fun and because they felt right. As it turned out, I already subconsciously understood that actions had reactions and great magic had great consequences.
Sympathetic magic. It's an impressive thing, especially in writing.
Bio: Possessing a quixotic fondness for difficult careers, Paula Stiles has driven ambulances, taught fish farming for the Peace Corps in West Africa and earned a Scottish PhD in medieval history, studying Templars and non-Christians in Spain. She is the author of horror novel, "The Mighty Quinn," co-written supernatural mystery novels, "Fraterfamilias," the upcoming “Confraternitas,” and non-fiction medieval history book, "Templar Convivencia: Templars and Their Associates in 12th and 13th Century Iberia."
She is Editor in Chief of the Lovecraft/Mythos 'zine/micropress Innsmouth Free Press.
You can find her at: http://thesnowleopard.net.