Meeting me today at the bar on Spacedock 19 is Julie Flanders, author of Polar Night, which has just been released. Woo hoo! A toast to you Julie Flanders! Speaking of toasts, what drink would you invent and what would you call it?
JF: Thanks for having me here on Spacedock, I’m so excited to be back. Have you and Craze made up? I’d like to invent a drink that can stop hair from turning gray. I don’t even want to say how much money I spend at the salon each month getting rid of my grey roots. I’m normally not vain but gray hair is the one thing I simply can’t stand. I’m not sure about a name – maybe Auburn Spice? I imagine it as a hot drink with some mulling involved. I’ve been cold ever since I wrote Polar Night.
MP: Sort of. I promised he eventually ends up happy, but Craze keeps eyeing me suspiciously. I’m sure you know how that goes.
Auburn Spice sounds nice. Thankfully, and I’m knocking on wood as I type this, I have no grays yet. I thank my mother’s excellent genes for that.
OK, Polar Night gives me a chill, too. What is something unique in your story?
JF: My grays are doubly painful because I look just like my father, except for the fact that he still had no gray when he passed away at 88 years old. I on the other hand have been going gray since I was about 20. Life isn’t fair at all sometimes.
As far as something unique in the story, I would say the setting. I read about the Arctic town of Coldfoot and thought the town seemed so interesting I set part of the novel there. Coldfoot used to be a mining camp in the early 1900s, and got its name from the miners who lived there. It’s located on the Dalton Highway, which is now featured on the show Ice Road Truckers. There is a truck stop there and some overnight accommodations, and then after Coldfoot there’s nothing along the highway until you get up to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. I thought the history of the town was interesting, and the fact that it’s so desolate and truly in the middle of nowhere appealed to me. It adds to the creepy feel of the story.
MP: I’ve seen that show a few times. It does look mighty cold, and I can say that air from the Arctic is always frigid. We get those blasts here in the Pacific Northwest. So is your story set in the winter? And in contemporary times?
JF: Yes, it takes place in current times, actually in December of 2012. It begins around the winter solstice, which is a key element of the story. A woman goes missing on the winter solstice and the main character, Fairbanks Detective Danny Fitzpatrick, makes a connection between her and another woman who went missing on the solstice a few years earlier. That case had gone cold but gets re-opened because of this connection, and the story kind of takes off from there. Fairbanks has less than 4 hours of daylight on the solstice, so I thought that was something that could be tied into the dark tone of the story. It’s kind of funny that I was so taken by the idea of writing a story in the winter, because I actually hate snow and cold in reality and can’t even imagine what an Alaskan winter would be like. But for some reason the winter setting was very inspiring to me for this novel.
MP: Those short days get to me. I’m glad to see them lengthening again. You’d probably not enjoy winter here then. It doesn’t warm up until mid July usually. What makes it tolerable is we get a lot of sun and after mid January the snow rarely sticks past sunup. I also enjoy some hot chocolate in the afternoon [with a bit of my chocolate potato chip bar – yum], cozy slippers, and cozy sweaters. My kitties get very cuddly, too. How do you cope with winter?
JF: I agree about the short days, and I’m always glad to see the end of January as I think it is the worst month of the year. Here we don’t usually have a lot of snow but what gets to me are the seemingly endless grey days. It’s so dreary and can be so depressing. I am glad to have my cuddly kitty and my cuddly dog during the winter too, although my dog is not as cuddly as he would like to think he is. He weighs 50 lbs so he doesn’t exactly qualify as a lap dog in spite of the fact that he would like to be. I’m a big fan of cozy slippers and sweaters too, plus I love soft blankets and the flannel sheets I have on my bed. Even though I don’t like winter, I love winter clothes. I am very fair-skinned, pallid if I’m being honest, so I am happy wearing sweaters and jeans or sweats in the winter. It’s a relief to be able to cover up my pasty white arms and legs!
MP: I grew up in Buffalo, NY, and lived almost ten years in Portland, so I understand about dreary days. They get to me, too. That’s why I like Bend so much better – a lot more sun. How does your main character deal with winter?
JF: My main character Danny is a native of Chicago, so he is used to bad winters and isn’t particularly bothered by snow, although he still finds himself surprised by just how harsh the winter in Alaska is. Basically he deals with winter and everything else with lots of alcohol. I didn’t want him to be the cliche of an alcoholic cop, and I hope he doesn’t come off that way, but when we meet him he is a devastated man who is drinking to try to cope with a tragedy that left his life in ruins. It’s obviously not an effective coping mechanism and isn’t working for him.
MP: And now he has to deal with a dead woman. It all sounds like a very rich set up for your novel, Julie. I’m really looking forward to reading it. One last question… shovel or snow blower?
JF: Snow blower, without a doubt! I am the biggest wimp on the planet when it comes to shoveling snow. I am eternally grateful to the inventor of the snow blower.
Thank you so much for your kind words about my novel, Mary! And thanks for having me here as a guest again, it’s always fun to hang out with you and Craze. I just hope he will forgive you soon and the two of you can go back to being friends. Thanks again! :)
When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks’ cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.
The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny’s instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.
Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.
Available on KINDLE / Smashwords
More About Julie
Julie Flanders is a librarian and a freelance writer who has written for both online and print publications. She is an avid animal lover and shares her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her dog and cat. Polar Night, a suspense thriller with a supernatural twist, is her first novel. It is published by Ink Smith Publishing. Find Julie online at her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
The release for Boomtown Craze will be March 4th. I’m having a party and prizes. If you’d like to participate, see more info HERE.
Questions comments for Julie? How do you cope with winter?