06/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Volcano Strands Travelers at the Airport, Brings People Together

The recent volcano-airport fiasco that stranded thousands of travelers and totally slapped the European economy upside the head came as no surprise to me. I knew this was going to happen. Seriously. My new novel Hearts on a String is all about stranded travelers who suddenly have nothing to do but play with each other's hearts.

Okay, it's not a volcano that grounds everyone's flights in this novel--it's a massive storm. But there are numerous eruptions; and as an author who has been told that her work is more truth than fantasy, I was right on the mark with this one.

As citizens of the world, each one of us needs to know that what happened when the Icelandic volcano spewed ash into the highways of the sky could happen again in a heartbeat. Wild storms, one or two major airports shut down that affect the rest of the country's airports, some goofball shouting crazy talk who claims to have other crazy friends on other airplanes--there are potential volcanoes lurking at every airport in the world.

So then what happens? The women in my novel throw all their carry-on luggage into the same van and head for a shared suite at the beach. And although they are smart women, it takes them a while to figure out they have the opportunity of a lifetime.

Think about it. You are suddenly stranded and it's not your fault. You are surrounded by people who you would never even talk to--let alone spend hours and days with--but there you are. And what becomes of it all?

I see this as an opportunity. I see quiet airports and stranded travelers as worlds of light, love, and new beginnings waiting to happen. Yes, color me positive.

And I predict (I feel a new novel coming on...) that as the days pass and the sooty cloud finally disappears that there will be some amazing stories rising from the ashes. People will have fallen in love with complete strangers. In nine months there will be a mess of babies. A man sitting on a plastic airport chair will start talking to the woman next to him and discover that her sister is dying because she needs a kidney transplant and he will offer to be tested as a potential donor. An elderly woman who was finally going to visit the grave of her mother will meet a family who offers to drive her to the cemetery and stay with her until the clouds clear.

Interruptions, travel tragedy, a bump in life's plans can be an opportunity for chance and change. It is so easy to forget about the simple, lovely, sweet moments of life if we always look at the sudden itinerary changes in a negative light.

As an author, a woman, and an emotional as well as a physical traveler who sees every person I meet as a potential friend, I can't help but think that every eruption and interruption could end up with a happy ending.

Keep your own heart on a string. Me? I'm going to go hang out at the airport.