What It Feels Like to Be Struck by Lightning

I have written about being struck by lightning on several occasions, but the Independent in London recently asked me to give an account for its "Five-Minute Memoir" series to coincide with the publication of The Poacher's Son in the United Kingdom.

Here's an excerpt:

On the first night I suffered from dark dreams: I was a soldier on a muddy, bloody battlefield; then a phone rang telling me my mother had just died. The next day, as darkness fell and mist turned to rain, I dreaded the thought of sleep. Before turning in, I decided to move my tent from under a balsam fir into the centre of the clearing.

Two hours later I was awakened by a crack of thunder. I lay on my side, listening as rain drove against the tarp, feeling the fabric shiver in the wind. Lightning flashed again and again. I tried to go back to sleep.

It all happened in an instant: the pulse of white light, the burning pain of electricity coursing through my body, the jolt of being blasted off the ground. The sound of the explosion lagged a split-second behind. For moments afterward, I lay paralysed, breathless, unbelieving.

You can read the rest here. As you can imagine, there's a lot more to the story than what I've written in this essay, and like most harrowing adventures it's best retold in person, usually over drinks. Eventually, I expect to weave my near-death experience into a novel—although Mike Bowditch is so luckless I can't imagine inflicting near electrocution on him as well!