When a wildfire destroyed her home and worldly possessions in the hills above Los Angeles, it didn’t take Megan Edwards long to recognize an opportunity. It took her husband a little longer (“Give me five minutes to grieve!”), but they were both soon planning to make the most of their sudden “stufflessness” and hit the road. They did so a few months later in a freshly built four-wheel-drive motorhome that was even more unusual because of the office in the back instead of a bedroom. This all happened back when “Internet” had not yet entered the lexicon but “email” had. The mobile office would allow Edwards to file stories with the newspapers she wrote for by cell phone. That was the idea, at least. At the beginning of 1994, cell service was patchy, unreliable, and expensive.
They also thought they’d be traveling for six months or so, when, they believed, they’d settle down and get back to normal. But five years and thousands of miles later, they were still on the road. In that time, they’d watched the Internet grow from a mysterious fad prized by people in remote locales into an unstoppable universal phenomenon. They started a website, RoadTripAmerica.com, to share road tripping tips and ideas. Slowly, their dream of being “at work, at home, and on the road, all at the same grand time” became a reality.
This edition marks the twentieth anniversary of Edwards’s memoir, which was first released in 1999. At its heart a story of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, this memoir is also a riveting and at times hilarious look at the early years of the World Wide Web. With a new introduction by the author and a foreword by Chris Epting, enjoy an armchair adventure across North America when the Internet was young. This e-book edition also includes 15 photos dating from when the author lived on the road.
The e-book, with color photos, is now available from these fine retailers, we hope it encourages you to “hit the road” in whatever way that means to you! A new paperback edition with black and white photos was published on March 10, 2020.
Purchase Roads From the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier
Megan Edwards is the author of the forthcoming novel A Coin for the Ferryman. Her other books include the travel memoir Roads from the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier, the humor book Caution: Funny Signs Ahead, the award-winning Copper Black mystery novels Getting off on Frank Sinatra and Full Service Blonde, and the award-winning novel Strings: A Love Story. Edwards holds a B.A. in classics from Scripps College and an M.A. from Claremont Graduate University. She has lived and traveled extensively in Europe and spent nearly seven years “on the road” all over North America. Now at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, she is working on her next book.
“I found myself savoring Megan’s poignant descriptions and occasional philosophical pondering.”–Ange Mattson, Oracle Magazine (November 2020)
“Excellent example of turning a hardship into something very positive. The book is well written and kept my interest from start to finish.”–Bruce Louth, NetGalley (10/17/20)
“We follow Megan and her husband through the most drastic path they could’ve chosen to follow after a California wildfire devastates life as they know it. Taking the true road from the ashes, we accompany them along for the ride of their new lives, in their new “mobile mansion.” Readers will relish in the reality and the imagery of a life well changed. Not to mention, these drastic changes are goals for many people in today’s world. Worth the read.”–Samantha Piragis, NetGalley (10/05/20)
“In Roads from the Ashes, Megan Edwards and her husband Mark face this decision after their house in the hills of Pasadena, California, burns down in the Altadena wildfires of 1993. Finding themselves without a single thing to anchor them, they decide—reasonably enough—to wander. They scrape together the money to buy a four-wheel-drive behemoth of a home on wheels, and together with their dog Marvin they set out to reinvent themselves and their definition of home. Edwards also explores matters of identity—trying on new labels like homeless, unemployed, finding that they don’t fit, and that the old labels don’t either. There is also the inevitability of tension, bickering, of outright civil warfare in such close quarters, as well as the ability of a well-placed geothermal hot spring to heal heart, soul and marriage.”–Tiffany Pace, (Mind Bets) (06/01/2019)
“From the ashes of the 1993 California wild fires comes what many of us day dream of…. Hitting the road with no particular destination and no time restraints. Travel either from the West coast to the East coast and bathe in the sunrises and sunsets from North to South. Meet the sculptor in Idaho and cooks and craftsmen of Appalachia. Live the birth of the internet….. “the web” ….. and experience their lows….breakdowns along the road and at times pinching pennies. Be in awe of Apple blossoms and cherry blossoms. Take a ride and share in their journey.”–Shirley A. McElhaney, (NetGalley.com) (05/17/2019)
“There is a ton of nostalgia to this book–which sealed my love for it–but all of the concepts still hold value to a modern reader. If you dream of a mobile life, or already have the fortune of living it, this is a book you should really read.“–Amy Lauderback, (inpursuitofmyownlibrary.com) (04/05/2019)
“It was a pleasure touring around the USA with Megan, Mark and Marvin. Megan’s writing is informative and interesting, and touched with a good dose of humor. I enjoyed meeting everyone that Megan wrote about and getting to know the country a little bit better. Thanks for taking me along for the ride.“–Mary Gordon, (Goodreads.com) (03/07/2019)
“Another great memoir. I truly enjoyed reading about Megan and Mark as they travelled in a souped up RV after losing their home and most of their possessions in a fire. So many these days are ditching (nearly) everything and hitting the road, but it was a different world 20 years ago in the early days of the internet. Fun read, especially for anyone who has ever dreamed of hitting the road full time.“–Karen Ellsworth, (Goodreads.com) (12/01/18)
“This is an excellent memoir, originally published twenty years ago but well worth the re-run. By the end you will find yourself appreciating the introduction of life as the Edwards lived it for the seven years they traveled. An excellent picture of California life in the 1990’s, the personal pain of losing all you possess in a single day, and the joys and angsts of following your heart down back country roads in a four wheel drive motorhome.” –Bonnie Reed Fry, Goodreads.com (11/24/18)
“This is a book to stir dreams of distant places, a remarkable journey down unknown roads of travel and self-exploration. Edwards relates the stories of their American adventures and misadventures in the compelling style of a novelist, with humor, drama and brilliant imagery. A journey worth taking.” –Al Martinez, Los Angeles Times (from a review of the 1999 edition)
Megan Edwards is the Gold winner in the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Award for Fiction: Romance. She also won the SILVER 2019 IPPY Award for Mystery/Cozy/Noir. She is also the Gold Winner for the 2018 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Fiction: Mystery and the Gold winner for the IBPA 2018 Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book in Fiction. She also received two Honorable Mentions from the 2018 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, one for Romance and the second for Music & Arts.
|A Suitcase, An Arrowhead, and A Set of Red Underwear
You don’t keep extra clothes when you live in 200 square feet. It’s a question of being able to put your plate down when you eat dinner or owning an evening purse. I haven’t owned an evening purse since 1993, and the one time I needed one since then, I found a perfectly good pearled specimen at a thrift store in New York. It cost a dollar, and I gave it to a bag lady in Grand Central Station after a dinner party at the Knicker- bocker Club.
Okay, I confess. If you were to find yourself looking through my underwear box (yes, box— there aren’t many drawers in motor homes), you’d find a red bra and pair of red panties at the bottom. They never move. I haven’t worn them since before I owned an evening purse, but there they are. I can’t throw them away. They’re survivors.
That red underwear, one suitcase, one husband and one dog are the only things I have that antedate the fire that ended Phase One of my life. It arrived with perfect timing. I was 40 years old, and I’d just been wondering if this—a nice house in a nice neighborhood full of nice stuff— was all there was. Just like a jillion baby boomers on the exact cusp of middle age, I was sick of exercise videos and women’s magazines and nylon stockings. I was having a hard time believing that the road to serenity lay in losing ten pounds, highlighting my hair, or giving my kitchen a country look.
And then, only a couple of months before I turned 41, Los Angeles caught on fire and didn’t stop burning for seventeen days. My house was one of the first to go. One day, I had an answering machine and high heels and an eyelash curler. The next day, well, the next day things were different.
The fires were headline news for weeks, as Altadena, Laguna, and Malibu each hosted a conflagration bigger than the last. In dollars, a billion went up in smoke. Over 1,100 houses burned to the ground, and 4 people died. My loss seems minuscule in comparison: just one average middle class woman’s stuff.
Yes, just stuff. That’s all it was: high school yearbooks, photographs, wedding presents, diplomas, my grandmother’s piano. I’d had ten minutes to pack ahead of the firestorm. I’d grabbed a suitcase. I’d grabbed—only God knows why— my red underwear.
I did take one other thing as I left the house. I paused in front of a cabinet filled with silver and wedding china and keep-sakes. I opened the door and took out an Indian arrowhead I’d found in Wyoming on Mark’s family’s ranch.
I guess that’s how you pack when you’re off on a new life. You get ten minutes, and there’s no second chance. I can’t tell you why, as the flames roared nearer, I chose red underwear and an arrowhead that would have survived the fire anyway. I can only say this. Where I was headed, I was overpacked.
Paperback: $15.00 US / ISBN 9781945501401 — Second Edition: March 2020
ePUB: $7.99 US / $13.60 CDN ISBN: 9781945501333 — First Edition ePub: December 2018
Paperback: $14.95 US / ISBN 9781891290015 — First Edition: March 1999
""Full Service Blonde" is an original and riveting mystery by a master of the genre. An unfailingly entertaining read replete with unexpected and narrative driven twists and turns, "Full Service Blonde" is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections." -- Midwest Book Review
"Readers will enjoy smart, sassy Copper as she handles family and professional crises with aplomb" -- Publisher's WeeklyRead more...
"Edwards’s prose glides as smoothly as Ted’s playing as she articulates how deeply teen love shapes her characters’ adult lives. Readers wanting to dwell on the melancholy of ill-timed loved will devour this beautiful novel." — Publisher's WeeklyRead more...
"Edwards makes an assured fiction debut. This amusing mystery stars aspiring journalist Copper Black, a contributor to a Las Vegas newspaper, who must navigate a multitude of personal and professional hurdles...Copper learns enough secrets to make deadly enemies before emerging bruised, battered, victorious, and primed for new comic adventures."— Publisher's Weekly
"Copper's debut has enough pizzazz to make readers want to try just one more roll of the dice.”— Kirkus ReviewsRead more...