Change in inevitable or so it seems. As I looked once again at the PUREX Leak manuscript, I found it lacking.
Originally, much of what is in the version of PUREX Leak published here were introductory chapters to the manuscript of a novel I am writing, Nuclear Time Bomb. The early drafts of that manuscript had chapters with actions in 1965. In those early chapters, I established conditions that created highly explosive chemicals being surrounded by intensely radioactive materials in PUREX Tunnel 1. I had been fascinated by PUREX Tunnel 1 for several years after learning of its existence while consulting with the government at Hanford.
I created Craig Campbell, a thirty-two-year-old chemical engineer working at the PUREX Plant as the protagonist. It was January 1965, a date chosen to coincide with when the last railcar was actually disposed of in PUREX Tunnel 1 according to the Dangerous Waste Permit Application Part A Form the US Department of Energy filed with the State of Washington.
But the bulk of the Nuclear Time Bomb manuscript took place in 2016-2017. That was when Dr. Essie Openwaters, a newly hired research scientist at a fictional Tri-Cities Laboratory, happened upon a memo that Campbell had written. The memo, carefully hidden in a surplus Atomic Energy Commission desk, described the bomb. That memo both threatened and upended Essie’s life as she struggled to protect a quarter-million people from an explosion she was convinced would be triggered by upcoming Hanford cleanup actions.
My developmental editor recommended removing the thirteen chapters that took place in 1965 out of concern that they detracted from getting readers hooked on Essie, the primary protagonist in Nuclear Time Bomb, as quickly as possible. She suggested using those thirteen chapters as a vehicle to get people to know me by publishing them on my website. It was another of her excellent ideas.
Hence, the novella, PUREX Leak, came into being.
But I discovered that I had a problem. While PUREX Leak contained elements of a decent tale, the form that I was releasing it in on this site was missing critical components required for a stand-alone novella.
So, I reworked it. I strove to better bring out Craig Campbell’s struggles, both with his sexual identity and with the dilemma of discovering that his boss’s inept actions could destroy a large part of eastern Washington. I endeavored to make Craig a likable but troubled protagonist.
In parallel, I needed to inspire readers to dislike and root for the literary annihilation of Tyrone Rettig, the psychopathic antagonist in PUREX Leak. Rettig also fills the same role fifty years later in Nuclear Time Bomb, where he strives to prevent Essie from learning what he did in 1965.
To that end, I have been restructuring what I had called “PUREX Leak” into an enhanced novella manuscript titled “Nuclear Nightmare, A PUREX Leak.”
This coming Wednesday, August 12th, I will release the first chapter of the reworked manuscript on this website. The new first chapter, Serve Me, begins to reveal the monster known as Ty Rettig to the reader.
Please take a look and let me know what you think. As always, thank you and stay safe.