Operator Writes Thriller Set in Wastewater Plant

The Wastewater Plant by Dodge Winston

Ever think all of the comedy (or drama) of your day job could fill the pages of a novel?  Dodge Winston, a Wastewater Plant Operator II in the San Francisco Bay Area, has written a new thriller, The Wastewater Plant, with the tag line “Where no one cares when you scream.”

Here’s a summary of the book:

Scott’s determined to make it through a record shattering storm for his first day at the wastewater plant. What he thinks his new career will entail and what he finds are polar opposites – an outdated plant full of half-broke equipment and a motley crew of plant operators who can barely tolerate one another. As personal politics explode during the worst storm in centuries, an ancient evil awakens. It’s hungry. It’s intelligent. And it’s focused on the wastewater plant.

We interviewed Dodge to find out more about his new book:

Q: Tell us a little bit about your new book, The Wastewater Plant.
The Wastewater Plant is a novel about two wastewater operator crews, day shift and night shift, who are stuck overnight at work, located on an island, due to an incredible storm and the flooding that accompanies it. The operators and one lab tech are isolated, stuck together to not only keep the plant running, but to contend with one another’s work politics as well.

As the night grows late something shows up at the plant. Something unknown. Does it come from our world, another world, or an entirely different plane? If the operators thought dealing with one another could be tough at times, they are in for a cold awakening.

The novel isn’t geared to be about one specific person… a specific protagonist or an antagonist… it’s about the plant itself, working relationships, and what personalities do when tough times arrive… dreadful, hellish times in the form of dark tentacles that reach out from within… to steal you away.

Q: What made you decide to set a thriller in a wastewater plant?
Me and some of the operators have joked that since there are so many “reality” television shows out there that we should have our own. The drama of equipment breaking down, finding parts to make repairs, work politics, etc. It can be dramatic. Then I thought about writing a comedy script. Before writing novels I wrote screenplays and teleplays. I thought that a comedy, set in a wastewater plant, starring someone like Chris Rock would be hilarious. Obviously I settled on writing a horror/scifi novel. Since I have already written three other novels containing supernatural elements, The Drake Eldorado trilogy, writing a scary novel set in a wastewater plant came naturally.

When you think about working graveyard shift at a massive industrial plant filled with heavy equipment, lone hallways, and dark recesses… horror slides into the mind like a tipped jar of blood. It’s the dark specter one must bat away over and over again when working nights at the plant.

Q: What do your coworkers think about your book?
I’ve let a couple of my coworkers read the book. Some have really enjoyed it. They got a kick out of it. Others took it a bit personal. I don’t use people’s real names. All the characters in this horror/scifi novel are aspects of people I have worked with in the past or am currently working with – they aren’t carbon copies. They are simply interpretations. It’s a book. It’s fiction. It’s bloody fun, mate! So I’ve gotten some good feedback for the most part. I can’t please everyone though.

Q: How did you become interested in a water environment career?
I was taking a lot of classes including science classes at the local junior college. I saw an ad in the local paper looking for an OIT (Operator-In-Training) at the wastewater plant. I read about the work and decided to apply. I got hired and the rest is history. I found the field to be quite interesting since operators work indoors and outdoors and with many different types of manual, electrical, and high-tech equipment. It can be fast paced if things aren’t going well. Operators really need to be on their toes and use many of their senses when dealing with equipment and water. Slippery when wet! Shocking too!

Q: Why should wastewater workers be valued and visible to the public?
Wastewater workers include a lot of facets; operators, collections, mechanics, lab staff, engineers, and administrative folks. This group (team) is ultimately working toward one common goal – to turn polluted water into clean water with the most advanced technology possible. Why would we want dedicated people like that in the public eye, you ask? Because they are performing an invaluable service to not only the local community that they serve but to the world as a whole. Without wastewater treatment, society would be dealing with cholera, typhoid, etc. These things can kill by the millions if left unchecked. The wastewater staff are the green soldiers who help keep civilization free of disease. And in some ways they are as important as doctors since they help in the prevention of these ailments.

Wastewater treatment, in fact any type of water treatment (drinking water too) should be highly valued. Water is one of the authentic life forces of the planet and all of society. We only have so much water on the planet. And as times change, populations continue to grow unfettered, reclaimed water (not dam building) WILL be the next step in keeping people’s thirst satisfied. Oh and by the way… whoever came up with the Toilet to Tap moniker should be fired immediately. That is the worst marketing slogan EVER. Let’s get serious if you want to succeed with reclaimed drinking water. Really.

Q: Anything else you want to tell our readers?
First off I would like to thank Lola and the CWEA for giving me this opportunity to share my novel, The Wastewater Plant. It is very appreciated! If you are reading this from the sidelines, please take the time to make an appointment with your local wastewater plant or drinking water plant and see what a fantastic service these men and women of public works provide. It is highly important!

Last, I’d like to thank anyone who has bought any of my books or eBooks. I appreciate you! If you’re looking for my novels, please visit my site at http://www.dodgewinston.com. I’m also at Amazon and Barnes and Noble too. Thanks for your support!

About the Author

CWEA Staff

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