This is a photograph of the largest atomic bomb ever exploded. I’m posting this to make people aware of the dangers of nuclear testing and warfare. Having my baby sister under a cancer threat brought up the old grief of losing two of my young cousins that are her age because they were Downwinders, victims of radioactive fallout during the era of atomic bomb testing in the Nevada desert. Cows ate the grass that had radioactive ash on it. Their milk concentrated the radioactivity. Unsuspecting mothers gave the milk to their children. My book Fatal Winds follows a young genius who helps build the bomb and later becomes an activist against bomb testing because he sees the plight of the Downwinders – children being the most vulnerable.
Roberta Summers is an award winning author with a Creative Writing degree from San Juan College. A current resident of Farmington, New Mexico, Summers lived in Hawaii for twenty-five years and on the slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in Hilo on the Big Island for five of those years. During that time a friend of hers was murdered by the Hawaiian Mafia. Her novel Pele’s Realm is titled after the Fire Goddess of the Volcanoes, Madam Pele, and is based upon that crime. She is also published in poetry and short stories and has served as an editor for the San Juan College Arts and Literary Magazine, Perspectives. She is a former co owner the publishing house, Silverjack Publishing which was housed at San Juan College’s Enterprise Center.
Summers is a member of Women Writing the West and Pikes Peak Writers in Colorado Springs where she served as a 2010, 2014 and 2015 contest judge. She is a former president of Trois Rivieras Fiction Writers. Currently active in the San Juan Writers Critique group, she has participated in book signings around the Southwest and authors’ panels at public libraries. She has appeared in numerous news articles and on public radio where she has been featured on the show “Write on Four Corners.”
Summers is currently working simultaneously on three novels—a western with a female protagonist, Maryann Winslow; a romance set in Hawaii, Hanalei; and her passion, a completed manuscript about the plight of the Utah Downwinders, victims of radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the Nevada desert during the 50s and 60s, Fatal Winds. Summers was raised in Southern Utah during the atomic bomb testing. She has seen young family die from fallout caused cancers. These deaths inspired her research and writing of Fatal Winds.
About her writing, she says, “I write because I have something to say, and I want to be heard—it’s a burning desire.”
Summers is a contest winner for Fatal Winds in the genre of historical fiction in the 2014 Pikes Peak Writers Contest.
Visit her website robertasummers.com.
Fatal Winds tells the stories of people who were downwind of radioactive fallout during the atomic bomb tests conducted in the Nevada desert during the 50s and 60s.
Troubled by the death of my young cousin Jimmy, I was inspired me to research and write about the bomb. Following is an overview of the story:
Called into wartime service at Los Alamos, young physicist Reese Mayfield applies his genius to developing the first atomic bomb. At 5:29.21 a.m. on July 16, 1945. “The Gadget,” as it is code-named, explodes and changes the world and Reese forever.
Although the bomb ends the WWII bloodshed, Reese questions its other effects when his first love dies of cancer from proximity to the first atomic test. After the war, Reese pursues a medical degree to study the effects of radioactive fallout. What he learns deeply disturbs him: In southern Utah, downwind of the Nevada test site, ranchers are losing livestock to deformity and mutation, and children and adults are dying of cancer. Mothers are having their children’s teeth tested for lethal radioactive exposure. Pigs are being used to test blast-proof clothing. Reese is driven to protest the continued testing, but the government regards the residents as collateral damage, and testing continues. The Cold War has shifted the nation’s priorities—America must lead the world in nuclear weapons. Downwinders are the sacrificial victims.
“Fatal Winds” is a 70,000 word historical novel about these victims. During this era, few comprehended the long-term effects the bomb would have on its developers and the residents living near the test sites. Reese Mayfield’s story represents the heart of these experiences. It is based on fact.