I'm thrilled to host a launch party today for my newest young adult book, Winter Longing, written as Tricia Mills. I love this story, and I've been very, very happy to be getting good reviews for it from everyone from teen book bloggers to Publishers Weekly. Here's a bit about the story:
Winter Craig finally gets up the nerve and tells her long-time friend Spencer that she likes him as more than a friend. The best part? Spencer likes her as more than a friend too. With the perfect boy to love and be loved by, she begins her senior year at her small Alaska school and indulges in the dream of becoming a costume designer for the movie industry. Life is perfect — until tragedy strikes. Winter’s perfect life turns upside down as she deals with an unbearable loss, doubts about her future, a best friend whose home life is getting worse by the day, and unexpected feelings for an unexpected boy.
Typically, I write about places I've been, but an Alaska setting called to me for this story. I didn't have the moolah to plunk down for a trip to Alaska, so I did copious amounts of research. I picked the brain of a friend who once lived there. I read books, perused blogs of Alaska residents, utilized Google Earth and maps to get the lay of the land. I filled my TiVo with everything Alaska-related I could find -- everything from nature programs about the flora and fauna to Deadliest Catch, Discovery's show about crab fishermen on the Bering Sea. I tried to pepper in bits and pieces of this information to give the story an authentic feel.
I have long been fascinated with Alaska. I'm not sure when it started, but it's possible it was during the years of Northern Exposure. Though the show was actually filmed in Washington state, its setting was rural Alaska. I loved the interesting characters, the gorgeous vistas, the sense of community that came from living in one of the harshest places on earth. It takes a certain type of person to live in Alaska, whether they're a native or someone who moves in from "Outside" (what Alaskans call the Lower 48).
My fascination grew as I began to read Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak mystery series. Her depictions of Alaska and its residents are so vivid that I'd swear I'd been there. I aspire to that as a writer. The series is currently in the works for a TV series, and I can't wait! Though I've always pictured Irene Bedard playing Kate (as I think Stabenow has too), I'm not sure how that will work out.
Men in Trees, starring Anne Heche, was another favorite. Again, it was full of quirky, fun characters, and a fish out of water story much like Northern Exposure. I hated that it got canceled when it did.
One of my current favorites is actually a reality show set in Alaska, Deadliest Catch. This show is full of interesting characters too, but they're real people doing the deadliest job in the world. When Captain Phil Harris died this year, it wasn't just a character viewers lost. It was a real man with a real family. This show illustrates the harshness of the seas off of America's last frontier. I've always been a fan of stories that pit man against the elements, so that's part of the appeal of this show and many other stories set in Alaska.
Is there a particular setting that calls to you as a reader or TV/movie viewer? If so, what is it and why does it appeal to you? One commenter today will win an autographed copy of Winter Longing.