The latest novel from former KION-TV news director Debra Castaneda is directly inspired by Capitola’s experience with the Storm of ’23. “A Dark and Rising Tide” imagines a scary winter storm that actually brings forth some enormous and mysterious sea creature, and a couple trying to survive both the ocean’s fury and the monster it washed to shore.
In the first week of 2023, we all remember, Capitola Village was hammered by a devastating winter storm that ranked as one of the worst it had ever experienced.
Given that she is a former TV news director and a resident of Capitola, it’s only natural that Debra Castaneda would have taken the walk from her home on 41st Avenue down to Capitola Village in the wake of the storm to see the damage for herself.
“I was absolutely gobsmacked watching the waves lap those buildings,” she said. “It was astonishing.”
But Castaneda was no longer a news person. She was instead a writer of a different sort. Armed with a deep familiarity of Capitola’s periodic flooding from her time as news director at Monterey County-based KION-TV, she turned that knowledge to her more recent passion.
“That’s the way I process things,” she said of what was going through her mind in the wake of Capitola’s punishing January storms. “I begin to apply the supernatural, or to imagine creatures or other forces at work.”
These days, Castaneda is a novelist working in the horror genre, and her new book, “A Dark and Rising Tide,” is directly inspired by Capitola’s experience with the Storm of ’23. The book imagines a scary winter storm that actually brings forth some enormous and mysterious sea creature, and a couple trying to survive both the ocean’s fury and the monster it washed to shore. The name of the village in the book has been changed, but the author leaves no doubt. It’s Capitola.
The book took only four months to write. “I write fairly fast,” said Castaneda. “I come from news. You put on a newscast a day, so I’m used to working to deadline. Like many journalists, I have the power to sit in my seat until things get done.”
Castaneda has written several books in the adult-horror genre, including “The Root Witch,” which finds something disturbing in a forest of quaking aspen, and “The Monsters of Chavez Ravine,” which deals with the real-life expulsion of Mexican American families in 1950s Los Angeles to make room for what came to be Dodger Stadium.
“My stuff is not extreme, it’s not particularly gory,” she said. “Also some of my stories qualify as eco-horror, or environmental horror.”
Castaneda writes quickly and with the discipline of a journalist, seven days a week. Even while just now releasing her new book, she is busy at work on the next one, in the genre of “fungal horror,” which is exactly what it sounds like, a subgenre in which the monsters are fungi.
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