September 18, 2014

Kurt Kamm Discusses his Novel, “One Foot in the Black,” Thurs., Sept. 20

 

Ever wonder what it’s like to face a wall of flames?

Malibu author Kurt Kamm comes to Topanga to discuss his novel, “One Foot in the Black” (MCM Press, Sept. 15, 2012, $14.95), the coming-of-age story of a young wildland firefighter, on Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. in the library Community Room.

At eighteen, Greg Kowalski, leaves an abusive home in Michigan for California to become a helitack (helicopter attack) wildland firefighter. He soon suffers the loss of his captain and mentor while fighting a major conflagration on a mountainside. In time, Greg comes to terms with the death of his captain but has greater difficulty overcoming his abusive father’s influence on his life.

Originally self-published in 2008, “One Foot in the Black”is now being reissued by a small press for wider distribution due to significant sales among firefighters and other first responders and an abundance of rave online reviews.

While the book is fiction, the descriptions of wildland firefighting and fires are fact-based and many firefighter readers consider “One Foot in the Black” to be the wildland equivalent of “Report from Engine Company 82,” a 10-year bestselling nonfiction account of urban firefighters.

One of the Malibu fires, the 60 mile-per-hour Santa Ana wind-driven Canyon Fire, burned to his front door and destroyed the homes of several neighbors. Kamm says the lessons he learned from the L.A. County Fire Department while writing his books helped him save his home.

Wildland fires are sweeping across the United States destroying swaths of landscape and property. This year alone, devastating and unprecedented wildfires have burned across Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Utah. Last year, similar fires burned in Arizona and in the year prior to that, Texas.

This book describes how these fires are fought, the dangers they pose and the lives of the men who fight them. In writing this book, author Kurt Kamm used his access to the fire camps and training academies of CalFire and the L.A. County Fire Department to write a gripping and accurate story.

In a case of life imitating art, the new edition of “One Foot in the Black” is dedicated to the captain of a L.A. County Fire Department fire camp who died in a burnover during the 160,000-acre Angeles National Forest Station Fire in 2009, which is eerily similar to the events described in this novel a year earlier.

Kamm’s previous novels have won several first-place fiction awards. Subsequent novels, Red Flag Warning: A Serial Arson Mystery (Aberdeen Bay, 2010) and Code Blood (MCM Publishing, 2012) have won several mystery fiction awards including first place in the 2012 International Books Awards for Fiction (Cross Genre category) and the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards for Faction (Fiction based on Fact). Kamm’s latest book, Hazardous Material, will be released in 2013. He is currently attending search & rescue training and working on his fifth novel.

For more information visit www.kurtkamm.com.