I’m writing this on a stormy day. Rain is streaking the window, and the wind outside seems determined to rip the last of the leaves from the winter trees. I live in California, and the locals grumble about this kind of weather, even though we only get rain on rare occasions. I suppose they can’t help—they love their sunshine.
I’m a bit of an oddity. I love the rain. I love it when the sky gets gray and moody and those ominous dark clouds come rolling in. Weather like this is a special treat. I’ve had an affinity for rainy days since I was small, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I fully understood why. Weather like this creates an atmosphere, gives me a wonderful shivery, tingly feeling of anticipation. When the world is like this, it feels like something is going to happen—perhaps a mysterious neighbor will appear in the middle of night, speaking of tesseracts, or the overcast weather will draw a lightning rod salesman to town, warning of a coming storm that will bring so much more than bad weather. (Yeah, not-so-subtle references to A Wrinkle in Time and Something Wicked This Way Comes.) You get my point. In books, nothing exciting ever happens on a bright, sunny day. As a lover of stories, therefore, I embrace tempestuous weather and all the exciting and mysterious possibilities that come with it.
For writers, weather is a super-effective tool that can be used to great effect. I once heard someone say that authors should strive to incorporate “weather reports” into their writing, for what better way to create an atmosphere or tone or foreshadow forthcoming events? You can certainly create a sense of peace and contentment with something like a soft, gentle snowfall, and I think wild and destructive weather is one of the best ways to lend suspense and a sense of danger to any story. One of my favorite middle-grade novels of recent years, The Aviary by Kathleen O’Dell, begins with a storm that savages the crumbling old mansion in which the eleven-year-old protagonist lives. Shutters and bricks are ripped from the house, the old oak tree on the front lawn splits in two, and you just know the protagonist is in for something menacing.
Yes, you gotta love stormy days. What’s the weather like in your middle grade?