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Wednesday, December 5, 2018


According to author Judith Copek, she’s most likely the only person you will ever meet who was born in Montana. A former English major and Information Systems nerd, she
Enjoys putting a literary spin on technology, and showing technology’s humor and quirkiness along with its scary aspects. When not writing, cooking or digging in the garden, you’ll find her on a Baltic beach or at Burning Man in the Nevada desert researching her next novel. Learn more about her and her books at her website. 

Sometimes I take a vacation that inspires a novel. World of Mirrors came about from a visit to the Baltic Island of Ruegen. Festival Madness arrived after a couple of trips to the Burning Man Festival. Setting is paramount in my fiction, up there with characters and plot. When I know I’m going to write about a place, my camera is my best friend. There’s no pressure to take a wonderful photo. I just need to record an image.

The Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert is a writer’s dream, with a hostile but scenic environment, (the Black Rock Desert), thousands of people, art, music, drugs, booze, fire, and total craziness. And isolation. It’s in the middle of nowhere, and you are nearly one hundred miles from civilization. There is one road in, two-lane and dusty. A perfect setting.

Anything can and does happen at Burning Man!
Everything is dusty: your vehicle, your luggage, yourself. Radical self-reliance is the watch phrase. You bring in what you need including food and water and carry away everything. Every speck of trash There’s always a dust storm. Rain turns the playa to gooey mud. Black Rock City becomes a vast chaotic circle of “camps” consisting of tents, campers, trucks, and people. The people are mostly in costumes, the more bizarre the better. Some of them are naked. Men wear dresses with ease. They are living their fantasies. The “Man” is the best place to do this because there is a pleasant anonymity. A more-perfect setting.

The desert is called the Playa, Spanish for beach, and it stretches forever, surrounded by bare mountains including the Black Rock. Somewhere there is always a techno beat. The statue of the Man looms over the Playa. The Temple does, too. Both are ultimately burnt to the ground. Art cars belch fire. A band marches by in women’s underwear. Beyond the city is the art. Stunning is the best word for this desert museum. You can get drunk on the art. I mostly ignored the drugs and the booze because I had a mission: to capture this compelling setting for my novel.

Weird stuff happens. Pilots at the airport offer rides so Burners can join the Mile-High Club. The women have a bare-breasted bicycle ride. Thousands of naked-to-the-waist women on bikes. With attitude. The “Critical Tits Ride.” There are parades. At dusk, the Lamplighters light lanterns throughout the city because most of the burners are on bikes and they need to see. Headlamps are everywhere, as is glowstick jewelry. Bad stuff can happen in the dark. Yes!

And the Burn? Saturday night everyone forms a huge circle around the statue of the Man. There is drumming and fire dancers and all the art cars (mutant vehicles) gather round with belching flames and the throbbing, pulsing, techno beat. You cannot help but dance. Fireworks explode, and the man starts to burn. He raises his arms. The flames burn higher. Everyone is shouting and dancing and drinking and drugging and screaming as the man burns. Enough drama for a half-dozen settings.

Sunday night the temple burns and the celebrants make their way off the playa through the dust. The drive is long, slow. and hot. Next year will be more of the same, but different. It’s addictive. A most-perfect setting.

Festival Madness
The Burning Man Festival, two murders and high-tech hi-jinx equal Festival Madness for a troubled cyber-sleuth. Boston-based computer security consultant Emma Lee Devens leaves her top-secret project in disarray and jeopardizes her marriage when she races to find her missing friend and colleague. Emma’s search takes her to the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada and the Burning Man Festival where a unique experience of survival, ceremonial fire, danger, and transcendence awaits. Anything can happen at Burning Man. Even murder.

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Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

I've always heard about Burning Man, but never any first-hand details. And your blurb is great. VB

JudyinBoston said...

Thanks, Vicki! Burning Man is an intense experience.

Anne Louise Bannon said...

It does sound like an.experiwnce. Thanks for sharing it so I don't have to go. ;-) BTW, my sister was born in Montana, too.

JudyinBoston said...

Say Hi to your sister from a fellow Montanan!