WHERE WAS I?
(A Personal Reflection on September 11, 2001)
Candace C. Bowen
September 11, 2014
In times of tragedy, I
think it is normal for a person to recall what they were doing when they heard
the news. I clearly remember the moment I heard the news of the Challenger
explosion on January 28, 1986. I was working for a Florida State Representative
and my grandmother called to tell me. Whether you wish it otherwise, such devastating
news has a way of staying with you.
I was on the trip of a
lifetime with my mom on September 11, 2001. We had flown to London to take a
North European cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). Our stops included;
Stockholm-Sweden, Copenhagen-Denmark, Berlin-Germany, Tallinn-Estonia, and St.
Petersburg-Russia. The highlight of the trip for me was Russia. I had always
been fascinated by the architecture and culture. We had scheduled an excursion
with a stop at The Hermitage, and I couldn’t wait.
On the Tuesday of the
11th, we had a full day’s excursion planned in Berlin, Germany. We took the
train from the cruise port in Warmunde. It was a rainy day, and it took us over
two hours to arrive in Berlin. We went on a highlight city bus tour, which
included seeing sections of the famous graffiti covered Berlin Wall, and the
now empty lot where Hitler committed suicide in his underground bunker. We
drove past Checkpoint Charlie, and the Brandenburg Gate.
at Bebelplatz square where Hitler infamously burned books to see the
haunting memorial built in the plaza after the war. The memorial is
belowground, set into the square itself. In a profound statement to what had
occurred prior to the war, it consists of empty bookcases. It stands as a stark
reminder of the twisted ideologies of an evil tyrant from an earlier
I clearly remember
driving past the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. For the most part, Berlin had
become like any other metropolitan city. To see a WWII bomb damaged landmark
surrounded by contemporary office buildings was a striking contrast.
We stopped for lunch in
an ultra-modern downtown hotel. Our last stop before the train ride back to the
port was to be Berlin’s WWII Allied Museum. It isn’t a very big museum, but I
looked forward to seeing it. It is mostly known for a Guard Watchtower, and
Checkpoint Charlie Guardhouse.
After lunch, we boarded
the bus and the world changed for me. Have you ever had that feeling when you
could just sense something is wrong? I had that feeling the moment I looked at
the bus driver. I am one of those dork’s who smile and greet everyone. When I
smiled at the driver, he had this look on his face that is hard for me to
describe. I wouldn’t call it fear it was more like alarmed disbelief. The
moment our tour guide boarded, the driver started speaking to her in rapid
German. I don’t remember much about the tour guide. I remember she was blonde,
professional, and very stylish. After listening to what the bus driver had to
say, she did not seem so put together anymore.
It was a fellow American
tourist who also spoke German that broke the news to the rest of us. He told us
America was under attack. The Twin Towers were gone, Washington had been
attacked, and there were fighter jets in the air. I could not believe it. I did
not want to believe it. The tour guide quickly realized her private
conversation was being translated and attempted to control the situation as an
entire busload of people fired questions at her. She calmed us down the best
she could by acting like nothing was wrong. Unbelievably, we continued on with
the excursion. I wish I could say I enjoyed my trip to the museum, but the
truth is, I don’t recall very much of it.
I felt disconnected from
what I was seeing. My mind was filled with what was happening at home.
After that day, the
irony of our visit to Berlin on the day of September 11th did
not escape me. I love history and am well versed in Germany’s role in WWII. I
could not mentally create a more bizarre series of events that led to us being
in Berlin at that point in time, and I have a very vivid imagination. We were
visiting the city of an evil 20th century dictator who dragged
America into WWII, while his 21st century counterpart orchestrated
an act of war against the United States. I suppose truth is sometimes stranger
The fear hit me when we
arrived at the train station. Hustled from the bus, we were herded like lemmings
towards the platform. Our entire path from the bus to the train was lined with stoic
German soldiers armed with assault rifles. The fact that not one of the
soldiers would meet my gaze alerted me to the fact that whatever happened, or
was still happening, was bad. Feeling like a foreigner who could not
communicate with the people herding us did not help matters. I am not sure who
was responsible for the protective escort, but I later learned we as Americans
were considered targets. While I was scared at the time, I am grateful
The two hour train ride
back to the port was eerily quiet. People made small talk, but I am positive the
scope of the unknown was on everyone’s mind.
It was dark and raining
when we arrived at the port. Despite the weather, we were greeted by a group of
locals from Warmunde. The enormity of their kind gesture did not sink in until much
later. We were escorted by cruise line personnel onto the ship. The captain was
making announcements over the intercom while we rushed back to our cabin. We
had cable access to CNN and wanted to know exactly what was going on.
I remember Wolf Blitzer
was reporting. We caught the beginning of one of the replays showing the
smoking Twin Towers. I needed to disprove what I had heard. Seeing the towers
still intact, I latched onto the only positive thing I could find. I told mom that
the guy on the bus was wrong. The towers were on fire, but they were still
standing. It was bad, but I wanted to believe it was like the February 26, 1993
failed terrorist attack on the towers. At some level, I needed to believe
While we watched, the
recording reached the part where the first tower collapsed. I don’t remember
sitting on the bed, but I sat in front of that television for hours after. I
vaguely recall the look of fear on mom’s face. The captain came over the
intercom to announce all fees would be waived if American passengers wanted to
call their families in the states. Mom waited in the radio room for hours to
get a call through to dad (we didn’t have cell phones at the time). When she finally
got through to the house, dad was out walking Ripper and Louie. Mom had to
leave him a message on the answering machine.
The vacation was over
for me at that point. I never felt so far from home. All I wanted was to get
back to my country. Russia was our last port-of-call and it was all a blur to
me. I don’t know about mom, but I went through the remainder of the trip on
When the cruise finally ended,
we had to spend the night in Heathrow Airport since all flights were backlogged.
The moment the plane lifted off, I felt better. We were one step closer to
being home. Over an hour into the flight the pilot announced there was a
problem with the landing gear door so we were returning to London. We waited on
the tarmac at Heathrow while another plane was readied. We then had to board a
shuttle to drive the length of a football field to board the waiting plane. After
all we had seen and heard, it was frustrating and it was frightening.
When we finally arrived
in South Florida, it felt like I had been gone for months instead of only a few
weeks. Aside from the displays of patriotism everywhere, home looked the same,
but it had forever changed for me. No longer did I feel that sense of security
I once felt. My country had been violated in the worst possible way. Up until
that point, wars were something fought far away in foreign lands. It took a
group of evil men filled with hate to bring it to the country I love.
I wanted revenge for the
innocent lives lost that day. When President Obama announced that SEAL Team Six
had killed Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011, it did not make me feel better like
I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, I was glad he was dead. I was not
surprised to hear that he died like a coward while ordering his disillusioned
followers to sacrifice themselves for his warped ideologies. In the end,
however, his death changed nothing. The nearly 3,000 innocent victims were
still dead, their families still grieving. And another hate-filled extremist
would be waiting in the wings to take Bin Laden’s place.
The memory of the 343
firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers who lost their lives rushing into
the towers while working people rushed out will live with me for the rest of my
life. First responders have died from cancer and are still dying from breathing
in toxins from the rubble that had once been The World Trade Center.
The terrorists may have
stolen America’s sense of peace, but in return they gave us a firm resolve.
Evil can bend us, but as a people, it will never break us. We are Americans. One
World Trade Center now stands where the Twin Towers once stood. A beautiful
memorial has been built on the site that one day I intend to visit.
Today, marks the
thirteenth anniversary of the terror attack. I still cannot watch a documentary
about that day without crying. I wrote this first-person account for my son, Clayton.
My greatest wish would be he never be forced to witness such an event in his
lifetime, but I know it is not a realistic wish. There is evil in the world,
and on the eleventh day of September 2001, it struck America.
Candace C. Bowen
Writing Process – Blog Tour
April 14, 2014
Hello, my name is Candace C. Bowen. Today is my day
to post and participate in the continuing series, My Writing Process Blog Tour.
My fellow writing friend, Roxe Anne Peacock, who writes mysteries, non-fiction,
and science fiction, posted for the tour last week. You may read her blog at: http://www.civilwarcooking.blogspot.com
am I working on?
Currently, I am working on several projects. My
sixth novel, Voodoo Fire, becomes available this month so I am working on the
final edits. I am well into my seventh novel, The Order of the Knightshades –
The Stygian Stone. The Knightshades Series is an exciting project involving a
group of fantastic authors. Based on J. Kent Holloways novel entitled, The Djinn,
each follow-up book by a different author will incorporate elements from the
first novel. Along with the Stygian Stone, I have been working on the third
novel in my historical romance series, A Knight of Valour. I also have a sequel
planned for Voodoo Fire entitled, Malevolence. If I ever find the time, I also
have a story lined up about a cursed trunk that spans several centuries
entitled, The Curse of Allister Mage.
does my work differ from others of its genre?
I make it a point to be different. I do not follow
the current trends and likely never will. Growing up a huge fan of romance and
horror novels, I tend incorporate a little of each into my stories. Aside from
the Knight Series, which is strictly historical romance surrounding the reign
of England’s King Henry I. A Knight of Silence was my first novel and I’ve
branched out since then.
do I write what I do?
I need to be challenged and I love history. The
Knight Series takes place in Medieval England, Jack of Hearts in Victorian
England. Spur of the Moment in 12 century Cornwall and its sequel,
Wicked Embers, in modern day England. Voodoo Fire takes place in modern day New
Orleans, and the Stygian Stone in Nazi Germany during WWII. To be historically
accurate and true to the location I am writing about, I had to do extensive
research. To me, that’s half the fun of writing.
does my writing process work?
It’s hard to explain my writing process since I
really don’t understand it myself. The best way I can explain it is that I
start off with an idea. I do not use outlines, storyboards, or any of the other
writing tools some authors use. I basically have a beginning and end in mind
before I start then I let the story tell itself. Twice now I have written the
last lines of my stories before typing the first sentence.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit
more about me. You can find my Author Page on Facebook and I am on Twitter
@candacecbowen. My books are available in Paperback, eBook, and two (Spur of
the Moment, Wicked Embers) are in Audiobook. If you would like to find out
more, please visit my website: www.knightseries.com.
THE INNER WORKINGS OF A WRITER’S MIND
I have been asked where the ideas for my stories come from. The short answer would be from my life.
The long answer is a bit more complex. By going in the order they were written, I will try to break it down by novel in a way you can understand the inner workings of my mind. I guess the most important thing to know is that I start a novel with a general idea for a story. Once I start typing, the story takes on a life of its own.
A KNIGHT OF SILENCE (2008):
Having realized too late that I legally bound myself to a man who was not who he initially portrayed himself to be, I was unhappy and looking for a way to escape. I found that escape through writing. Don’t get me wrong, I never expected a perfect relationship, I don’t think they exist. However, in Fulke and Reina’s story, I created two imperfect halves that together formed a complete whole. I think Plato states it best in The Symposium: “According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate beings, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” I believe that if you love someone, you do not continually point out their flaws to keep them on a level you are comfortable with. You build them up and rejoice together in the success that follows. I did not have that so I escaped to a fictional world where I could.
SPUR OF THE MOMENT:
While writing Bronwyn and Euric’s story, I pretty much realized I had reached the end of my marriage. Already an introvert, my only emotional outlet during this time came from the interaction with my son and through my writing. In the story, Bronwyn’s life mirrored my own. She was in a place she wasn’t meant to be. The only reason I held onto the relationship was for the sake of my young son. I knew he had to reach an age where he could rationally think for himself without being influenced by the petty immaturity of others.
During Wicked Embers, I found myself in a holding pattern. Only in this case, I related to the nemesis of the story, Jaenelle. While she waited centuries for revenge, I anxiously awaited my freedom.
JACK OF HEARTS:
If you know anything about Victorian Society, you may know women of the era were confined by the dictates of society. Guilt for what I wanted for myself weighed heavily on me. Who was I to destroy the only life my son had ever known? I’m his mother. It’s my duty to protect him. If not for a catalyst that forced my hand, I often wonder how much longer I could have held on to the marriage. In a moment of anger, the carefully maintained façade that had fooled so many people, myself included, slipped. Only then did I realize that by staying I was doing more harm to my son than were I to end the marriage. The drama that ensued was even worse than I expected, not unlike the chaos created by Jack the Ripper himself. While still young, I am blessed that my son inherited a level of maturity far beyond his tender years. He handled it far better than I could have ever imagined. Thank heaven for mitochondrial DNA.
A KNIGHT OF BATTLE:
The second book in the Knight Series came upon me unexpectedly. The last thing on my mind while going through a bitter divorce was romance. Believing it would take my mind off of the turmoil in my personal world, I escaped to my fictional one. Still, I wasn’t too surprised when my mom read the first draft and didn’t like it. I couldn’t blame her. I knew it wasn’t up to par. Somewhere in the legal mess, I lost my passion for writing… and that made me mad. How could I allow someone who was legally fighting for half of everything I had worked so hard for to take away one of the things I loved most? Determined, I scrapped the entire first draft and started over. Whether anger or determination reignited the fire within me, I completed Albin and Lecie’s story within days of the deadline. My mom approved and I can honestly say I am proud of the story for more reasons than one.
I will always look upon March 10, 2012, as the date I took charge of my life. Seven long months of legal hassles later, I was finally free. In order to put aside the anger within me, I once again turned to my escape; writing. Voodoo Fire is a cautionary tale of what could happen when you push a good person too far. Subliminally, it was also my therapy. When I finished the story, I felt like I could breathe again.
My past is exactly that and I have no intention of ever looking back. I have a brilliant and beautiful son who made every second of my decade in purgatory worthwhile.
I don’t think I will ever understand how the creative part of my mind works. All I do know is that I have never been happier. Where that will take me in my writing, only time will tell.
Love and light,
Candace C. Bowen
Below is the Goodreads link to the blog:
January 29, 2013
Below is my contribution to the 'Authors Tagging Authors’ Blog Hop.’ After being tagged by fellow Rhemalda Author, Cas Peace, I figured I better figure out what this blog hop business was all about. Cas is the author behind King’s Envoy and King’s Champion part of the Artesans of Albia Series. They’re amazing stories that you should definitely check out. http://peacewrites.blogspot.co.uk/
So without further adieu, here follows the questions and my answers:
What is the working title of your next book?
My current work in progress is entitled, Voodoo Fire.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My maternal grandfather was born in Garyville, Louisiana. I have always found the city of New Orleans and its culture absolutely fascinating. With its above ground cemeteries and multi-cultured history, the story of a séance going wrong at the tomb of the infamous voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, just played out in my head.
What genre does your book fall under?
I would call it classic horror with a romantic element. I don’t think I will ever escape from romance when it comes to my writing. After making a few bad personal life decisions the happily-ever-after element of romance appeals to me very much.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I could definitely see actress Amanda Siegfried in the role of the lead character Willow. Amanda has a wide-eyed innocence that would be perfect for a possessed mid-western college girl. The hero would be somewhat harder for me to cast as I based him on someone special to me. I would have to give that choice a lot of thought.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Queen Marie is back and she’s not happy…
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Voodoo Fire is currently scheduled for a fall 2013 release through Seven Realms Publishing.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I am currently still working on it. My writing goal is no less than a thousand words a day. I usually surpass this mark, but I like to set a reasonable goal since I have a life outside of writing.
What other books would you compare this to within your genre?
I try to make each of my stories totally unique so I have never read or heard of anything similar.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I tend to have a moral to all of the stories I write and this one is no different. In the midst of a major life change, I was forced to endure the petty vindictiveness of a few people. Voodoo Fire is a tale of what happens when a person takes a negative path as opposed to a positive one. On a more personal note, it’s also about what can happen when you push a good person too far.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I think Voodoo Fire has a little of something for everyone. There’s non-explicit horror, suspense and a hint of romance. Since the romance takes a backseat in the story, I also think it’s the first novel in my catalog that will appeal to both women and men.
Next up on the blog tour is fellow Seven Realms Publishing author, Rick Nichols. Rick is the author of the John Logan series about ex-spy turned PI John Logan as well as the Eastlander Chronicles series. His influences include Robert B Parker and Robert Jordan. When he's not creating worlds, Rick enjoys reading, guitar, golf, and spending time with his family. He lives in Florida. My dad is a fan of Rick’s John Logan series and I was fortunate to be chosen to proof the Eastlander Chronicles. I eagerly await the next installment. Check out Rick’s blog: www.ricknicholsonline.com
After Rick, we have author/illustrator Virginia Wright. Virginia is the author and illustrator of the children's books: The Princess and the Castle, The Prince and the Dragon, Crying Bear, The Christmas Secret, and an educational, non-fiction book titled-- Buzzzzzzzz: What Honeybees Do. She also had several of her writings published in an Anthology-- Soundings, by the Poetry Fellowship of Maine. She was quoted as saying, "When I am not spending time with my husband, watering my vegetable and herb gardens, canning, or cooking, I spend my time doing what I enjoy doing most, writing..." My son loves her book, Buzzzzzzzz: What Honeybees Do. Link: http://www.virginiawright.com/blog
Then we have another fellow Seven Realms author, R.P. Steeves. Richis the talented author behind the Misty Johnson series; Supernatural Dick in Capitol Hell and Book Two, The National Maul. I keep trying to convince Rich to have Misty take on the Curse of the Wrigleyville Goat, but to date have had little success. He has an informative and entertaining blog so be sure to check it out. http://www.rpsteeves.com
D.G. Gass, poet and author of "Ghosts of Arlington" is the next author on our hop. Long after I had the opportunity to read it, D.G.’s story about war and its aftermath still resonates with me. A veteran herself, you should definitely check out her site. http://writerdggass.wordpress.com
Last but by no means least we have the multi-talented, J. Kent Holloway. Kent is an adventure author with a passion for edge-of-your-seat thrillers. A real-life paranormal investigator, his work explores the realms of the unknown. When not writing or scouring the southeastern United States for ghosts and cryptids, he works as a forensic death investigator. His books include: Primal Thirst, Sirens’ Song, The Curse of One-Eyed Jack, The Djinn, Devil’s Child, Freakshow, Masquerade at One Thousand Feet, and Willie Wiggles and the Weaving Webb. How’s that for multi-talented? Be sure to check out his website: http://www.kenthollowayonline.com
Every one of these authors is an incredible talent. It’s an honor to know them.
Love and Light,