Seeking an agent for my book Jolt: a rural noir about lovers Thaw and Natalie as they struggle to overcome the effects of a nuclear meltdown on their relationship and the villagers in their small mountain town.
The story centers on the ever current question of what people near nuclear power plants in places such as Diablo Canyon, Indian Point, Dungeness, or Arkhangelsk might do in the event of a meltdown. The story takes place primarily in a tiny lakeside North Country town set in the northeast of the United States where country people respond to the onslaught of forced refugees fleeing the effects of the power plant's radiation release. The protagonists are lovers, Thaw and Natalie; a military veteran, Lem; the Matters family, professionals with two boys from downstate near the Plant; and Martha, a library.
“Roberta M. Roy imagines in chilling detail the aftermath of a nuclear fallout on the lives of a number of sympathetic characters. She explores their joys, trials, and conflicts in both engaging backstory and traumatic present as they fight to save folk from the nightmare of radiation. This futuristic novel is well written and researched, and the victims’ stories are poignant; the plight of the young Matters brothers, in particular, will stir the blood.”
--Nancy Means Wright, author of Mad Cow Nightmare and Midnight Fires
"Jolt is a well written and thoroughly researched novel which portrays, through the lives of its multiple characters, the apocalyptic aftermath of a post-nuclear 9/11. Setting her story in a fictional but believable future, Ms. Roy adroitly manages to involve the reader in her characters’ loves and lives while simultaneously illustrating the medical and societal horrors of a nuclear disaster. A “must read” for anyone, politician or otherwise, who needs to be reminded of the unimaginable consequences of a nuclear accident or attack on those fortunate or unfortunate enough to survive it."
--John Harris, Ph.D. Radiation Biology and Biophysics M.D., Diplomat of American Board of Radiology Professor of Radiation Oncology, Emeritus
Logline: Those nearest a nuclear power plant meltdown perish; those up to thirty miles away risk the early effects of radiation fallout. Jolt: a rural noir describes the post meltdown struggle of the Matters family and the lovers Thaw and Natalie and the humanistic response of the residents of an imaginary northern American village overrun by forced emigrants fleeing fallout and in need of food, housing, water, and post radiation exposure care.
Synopsis: Martha, the new librarian in the upstate lakeside village of Lochlee, New Carlton, has cultivated veterans Thaw and Lem as friends and they regularly dine with her in the house she is refurbishing. Thaw, an unemployed artist, and Natalie, a city planner in downstate Bixby, love one another, however Thaw’s unreliable income works against any hope of their marrying. Then, just as Thaw’s prospects improve and he lands a position as a Bixby art instructor, the nuclear meltdown upsets the state of New Carleton’s economy. Thaw’s position is put on hold, and the village where he lives is overrun by forced emigrants fleeing radiation fallout who arrive in need of food, shelter, and medical treatment. Among them are Natalie and her sister and niece who leave the city to bunk in at Thaw and Lem’s. Thaw, Lem, Natalie, and Martha lead the village to establish a Point of Distribution (POD) to respond to the needs of the survivors. The Matters boys, Jason and Marty, flee from near The Plant and Lem finds them hundreds of miles from their home pillaging Thaw’s cabin for food. The boys’ parents cannot be reached, but because by then the internet is again available for communication, the Red Cross arranges for the boys to join their maternal aunt and her husband in Ohio. Time passes and gradually the Newcomers are settled into a makeshift village along the lakeshore. Lem meets a Newcomer that he will marry and his sister develops a swelling on her thyroid gland. Natalie and Thaw work through their differences. Martha regrets missing her chance with Lem. And life goes on . . . more crowded perhaps . . . and different . . . but life.
Jolt offers a presentation of the possible effects of a nuclear plant meltdown. Unlike much dystopian literature, it is not just for genre lovers. Unlike in Never Let Me Go, the characters are not clones. And there is no totalitarian, brain washing, genetic engineering government to make this Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty Four and unlike The Handmaid’s Tale, both men and women are free. But perhaps most importantly, unlike World War Z, The Time Machine, and The Children of Men and most other books in this genre, this dystopian world could occur here and now. Perhaps the story closest in concept to Jolt is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, a non-fiction book that describes a reality-based dystopia caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Its telling is similar to Jolt’s as it is a reality-based mass event; however the reality in Zeitoun has already occurred while Jolt’s is based on future possibility.
As a New York State Licensed Speech Language Pathologist with a B.A. in English from SUNY Albany, an M.A. from the University of Nebraska, and post Masters’ study at the University of Michigan, I was an Assistant Professor at the New York State College at New Paltz where I taught for seven years and my studies have been in both literature and science. After 9/11, concern prompted me to participate in one hundred hours of CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) study with the military in Bethesda, MD, and Washington, D. C. Although the classes were one hundred large, in each I was only civilian. Given the state of the world, I wanted to learn how I might protect my family should the nuclear plant near us melt down or a mass event occur. What I learned encouraged me to write a story of passionate and loving people bent on solving their own immediate problems as well as those of a community overrun by forced émigrés fleeing a nuclear meltdown.
My strong background in community activism is reflected in my having served as Chair of the Fair Employment Practices Committee for the SUNY Faculty Senate and as the President of the Dutchess County Council for Women. That work reinforced my belief in the importance of leadership in educating people as to ways they might better their lives. Study in the CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Neuclear, and Explosive) courses informed and calmed much of my fear of mass events. It is my intent that Jolt: a rural noir will serve to inform readers without military background as me to how to protect oneself and one’s family in the event of radiation fallout. Jolt incorporates those ideas embedded in a character driven story designed to divert and entertain all its readers. In other, I have written a sequel to Jolt and two anthologies, one of essays on topics relevant to my life and the other, a collection of interviews I did with other authors.