Sunday, September 19, 2021

Where Were You When? by Helen Henderson


Windmaster Golem
Click the cover for purchase information

After a week of memorials, the title for this month's post came easily. The subject is one of those where almost everyone has a story about the day, a personal connection to it, or was affected by the events of September 11th, 2001.  

Memorial in Light
Image by David Z from Pixabay

Using a degree of separation approach, here is my story.

  1. Freedom Tower
    (One World Trade Center)
    Author's image

    Worked in an office in one of the towers (fortunately, it was years earlier)
  2. Personally knew someone on Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  3. Lived in the county that lost more people that day than any other place other than New York City.
  4. A smoke plume drew me and others to the town waterfront where word spread of a plane hitting one of the towers. After the second plane strike, the crowd dispersed to their homes or work to make room for the emergency personnel to use our boardwalk and dock as a staging area. Watched the buildings go down on television until it went black. (The transmission towers went down and television was out for days until temporary services could be set up.) I was home and watching the smoke from my house when the fighter jets came screaming in hot and low across the town heading towards Manhattan.
  5. And even more personal connections. September 11th is a family member's birthday and another died exactly a month before.
  6. When air, bus, and rail travel shut down, trying to reunite stranded family members posed a challenge. One parent was locked down at their place of employment, while the children were locked down at school and would only be released to a parent. The problem? The other parent was stranded more than 1200 miles away. Finally the school allowed the children to be taken home by a neighbor. But there was still the problem of getting the parent on the East Coast home. It took several days to coordinate but a mid-point, highway shift did the job.

Flight 93, Memorial, Shanksville
Image by Andreas H. from Pixabay

Enough about the personal, time to switch to the professional.

  1. I had just written a local history, and the events of September 11th meant another chapter had to be added. At least it wasn't like another author I heard of who had just finished a manuscript about a plane and terrorist attack. Before gathering supplies to take to the rescuers, the novel went into the trash.
  2. Several years later when writing a history for a local organization, I had to again incorporate material I had gathered in the days and weeks following the destruction of the Twin Towers. The church has lost one of its leaders that day.
9-11 Memorial, Keyport NJ
Author's Image

Both of those books are non-fiction, how to incorporate the day into fiction. A few thoughts come to mind.

  • A main character could have an ancestor lost that day or who survived the buildings' collapse. And don't forget about the Pentagon or Flight 93.
  • If a contemporary novel, a television broadcast or visiting a memorial could trigger a flashback. Like the U.S.S. New York where steel from the towers was used in the creation of the vessel, the metal in the Keyport, New Jersey memorial also included a small section of a beam.
  • Or for a murder mystery, have the debris of the towers obscure a murder.
  • Using the images as inspiration and  focusing on the emotions.
  • My favorite plot would involve time travel and saving someone, with some romance of course.

Since my current work-in-progress is a fantasy romance, the actual events of 9/11 weren't appropriate. However, I went through my collection of images and several worked as inspiration for the aftermath of a tornado.  Someday, more of the ideas might be used. but not today.  Until then I prefer to fly with dragons, hang out with mages and wizards, and tell their tales. 

To purchase the Windmaster Novels: BWL

 ~Until next month, stay safe and read. Helen

Find out more about me and my novels at Journey to Worlds of Imagination. Follow me online at Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.

Helen Henderson lives in western Tennessee with her husband. While she doesn’t have any pets in residence at the moment, she often visits a husky who has adopted her as one of the pack. 


  1. Everyone has a specific memory and emotion for that infamous day in history. Thanks for sharing, Helen.

  2. I have my own memories and mourn the loss of neighbors.

    1. This is really the first time I put it all into words. I think next month I need a happier topic. As they say, time will.heal all wounds. We can only hope.

  3. Even after twenty years, although I was in Arizona, these images still bring back full force the emotions of that day, as if it happened yesterday. I still cannot dwell on them.

    1. Now that the special anniversary is over and the memorials built, my hope is that we can finally start healing. My first act was to move so I didn't see a daily reminder. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Thanks for this, Helen. I have the big book of 9/11 obits that the New York Times presented, changing our idea of what an obit is forever. I go through the names and name my fictional characters after those lives cut short.

    1. I think I have the same clippings. Hadn't thought of using it as a reference for characters. Thanks for sharing.


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