You can purchase the book Memphis 7.9 (revised) as a kindle book or as a printed book at Amazon. If you do not have the time to do that right now, you can read a synopsis of the book below.
First, let me explain why I wrote this book in 2003. I had done some significant research into the seismology and possible effects of a large earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, using the then available studies to calculate shaking intensities in the surrounding lands. I found that some studies into the overall impact of a major event had been discontinued in the mid-1990s, and there was little explanation of why that was so.
When I applied the formulae from FEMA reports published in 1993 to the 2000 census, I calculated that the damage and casualty rates from an earthquake the size of the December 16, 1811 event would be catastrophic. The significant damage area would cover six states in the middle of the country. Injuries and fatalities could number in the hundreds of thousands. The displaced population could number in the millions. The time to repair the damage could be years. And yet I could find no reports or news items from the period that considered those possibilities, even when I made direct enquiries to FEMA, USGS, and the University of Memphis. For a time I became a believer in a conspiracy to hide that information, and I found evidence of attempts by some to push the problem “under the rug.”
I felt I had a responsibility for telling the public about the dangers from the New Madrid, but being retired I did not want to embark on an exhaustive research project to prove my conclusions to the satisfaction of peers in the seismology discipline.
I compromized with myself and decided to write a fictional story telling what the world would be like if a giant earthquake struck with the same magnitude as the 1811 event, and at the same place. The 1810 census had counted 5,000 in the area affected and there were now 32,000,000. Besides, I had always wanted to write a novel.
So I began learning how to write fiction and eventually wrote what became two books: Memphis 7.9 and Broken River. I found I needed to learn the publishing business to present the books to the public. A part of my goal was to explain to the public how an earthquake really happened, and some have critiqued my books as being too technical at the cost of being a good novel.
Over the years I am proud of what I have produced, and I think some people understand much better just how seismic events occur and how bad the impacts can be. Some people are doing a better job of preparing and mitigating disasters for having read my stories. Others have simply enjoyed my story.\
Let me introduce you to the main characters of Memphis 7.9:
Chris Nelson, a graduate student in Seismology at the University of Memphis, is researching how to predict an earthquake on the New Madrid Seismic Zone. His computer models are becoming better and better, and they are indicating a much stronger event may be coming soon. Pamela Weekes from the Memphis Seismic Safety department wants him to let her tell the public of his conclusions, but he resists. His thesis advisor, Dr. Paul Kenton, tolerates his studies, but warns him against publicizing his predictions.
Judy and Tom Fox in California prepare for a trip to Memphis to see their daughter Judy, a student at the University of Memphis who has romantic dreams of Chris. They feel a temblor on the Calaveras Fault under their home as they prepare to leave and talk about earthquakes as they drive across the country.
At the Interstate-55 Truck Stop on Stateline Road in New Simon, Arkansas, at the very bottom of the Missouri bootheel (located atop the epicenter of the 1811 seismic event), waitress Tina Washington asks aspiring parachutist Alex Smyth to help her avoid the sexual advances from JQ McCrombie, the crook who employs them both. Tina overhears that George Besh is a cocaine dealer who is bringing in product for JQ.
In Memphis Marion Roberts prepares his staff at Seismic Safety to get the word out to the public about the need to prepare for earthquakes. Pamela will interview JQ about his work retrofitting bridge abutments in the area for earthquake safety.
A series of moderate earthquakes along the fault help fine tune Chris's predictions, and he expects another moderate earthquake in a week under New Simon. Paul Kenton agrees for him to install a seismic sensing station in that area to check his theories. In the meantime, JQ instructs the foremen of his crews doing the bridge retrofits along I-55 on how to cut corners and avoid detection.
Chris discovers that there seems to be two disparities in the fault near New Simon holding the fault in place, and if both are breached, the seismic event could grow to fracture the entire southern part of the fault like it did in 1811. He continues to work on his theory so it can handle that more complex situation.
JQ pays George for the shipment of cocain to arrive in the next few days, and George tells JQ of the rumors of an earthquake prediction for New Simon.
Over time, the expected size of the temblor grows and word gets out. With help from Jenny and his Dad, Chris takes the seismic sensing station to New Simon and installs it in a nearby electrical substation. He tells Tina of the impending temblor expected early Sunday morning.
Pamela Weekes arranges with JQ to have lunch and see his new offices along the trolley south of downtown. Knowing he has renovated the old building for earthquake safety, she comments on the lack of shear walls in the contruction and discloses that she has a Masters in Structural Engineering.
Tina goes to JQ's office as required by JQ and rebuffs his sexual advances. She is furious and enlists Alex's help in finding a way to get even with JQ.
The sensing station in New Simon is shorted out by a curious racoon, and Chris returns there to fix the problem. After restarting the station, he drives back to the truck stop and sees JQ's retrofitting crew installing short bolts in the I-55 overpass. They run him away, but word gets to JQ that Chris has been asking questions. He arranges for Chris to be invited to his Friday open house where he can shut him up.
Alex stays late to fix the network server in JQ's West Memphis office. In doing so, he discovers a set of incriminating emails between JQ and state officials exposing the graft going on. It is what Tina has been looking for. After he shows her the evidence, JQ calls to invite her to his open house Friday evening. She accepts, planning to take Alex and the evidence with her