Thank you so much for joining us today! I can’t wait for you to meet my friend, Laurie Wood as she talks to us about her romantic suspense debut Northern Exposure.
Here’s the book blurb:
Reunions can be deadly.
After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.
Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.
Please welcome Laurie Wood:
SHAREE This book has some wonderful information about polar bears. Being an animal lover it immediately caught my attention. I don’t want to give any spoilers but I’ve gotta ask…How did you know about polar bear jail? Are there really attacks in town? Have you seen polar bears in the wild?
LAURIE These are all great questions! I learned a lot about polar bears researching for this book. They’re fascinating creatures. The “Polar Bear Jail” is what the people of Churchill call the facility. Its official title is the “Polar Bear Holding Facility” and they keep the bears locked up there with water but no food until they’re released back into the wild. They don’t want the bears to associate food with humans in any way. The bears are either airlifted miles north via helicopter, like in my book, or out onto the sea ice once it’s solid on Hudson Bay, so they can’t return to town.
The most well-known attack in town was November 1, 2013 when a woman was attacked by a male polar bear around 5 a.m. when she and some friends were walking home from a Halloween party. The bear had her by the head and was throwing her around like a rag doll. A 69-year-old man saw it happening from his front window and rushed outside with his shovel to help. The bear then turned on him and attacked him as well. The two of them survived but were gravely injured and had to be airlifted down to Winnipeg. They awarded the man the Canadian Star of Courage for his bravery in saving the 30-year-old woman. Other attacks have been less injurious, but the town is built on the bear’s migratory path and in the middle of their territory so it’s a tenuous human-animal relationship.
The town follows a rigorous “Polar Bear Alert Program” where everyone is encouraged to call a phone number to report any bear seen near town or in town 24/7. It’s an emergency line and is staffed that way. Staff with go out to check on the bear and its location. Natural Resources Officers follow up as well. People use air horns, paint balls, rubber bullets, cracker shells, pepper spray, etc. when dealing with bears they encounter. But the best thing is to avoid them entirely. A polar bear is bigger than a human, faster than a human, and unlike a black bear or grizzly, they will kill you not just maul you if they get you down on the ground.
I’ve never seen one in the wild although we plan on going to Churchill together. My husband has been there several times with his military career, so I was working with his hundreds of photos for my reference. We have six Churchill polar bears here in our Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg though. They’ve been brought here because they were either orphaned or had human-animal encounters and it was decided that they wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves in the wild. Polar bears don’t mature until they’re about four years old. If they lose their mothers before that they won’t survive.
SHAREE You tackle the tough topic of rape in such a careful and considerate way. What was the hardest part of including such a delicate topic in your story?
LAURIE It was important to me to balance out Kira and Lukas’s story and bring them both full circle. My publisher, Anaiah Press, liked the fact that I did the reveal through Lukas’s point of view. I wanted it to be part of his own character growth and his spiritual growth. I think the reality is that most men who are married to or are going out with anyone who’s been the victim of a sexual assault, struggle with it and hurt deeply, and as a society we don’t pay enough attention to that aspect of how rape culture affects us.
When I was a police officer, I dealt with a horrendous case of a woman who suffered a rape through a home invasion. Her husband was away on a business trip and her teenage son was tied up and gagged before her assailant trashed the house and then violently attacked her. And her biggest fear was how her husband would react to her being raped—that he would now reject her.
She wasn’t the only sexual assault victim I dealt with and that was a common theme. So, when I made this Kira’s deep secret I knew her shame of not being perfect for Lukas anymore would tie in just right with him needing to learn that his shallow, materialistic view of life as a rich kid wasn’t what God wanted from him either.
My goal in writing this story was to write a high-action suspense story with a good love story. But I also wanted to write about an issue that many women share and to say: “God’s got you. You are safe now. If this happened to you, it wasn’t your fault.”
SHAREE Will we see Kira, Sophie and Lukas in book two?
LAURIE Book 2 is the story of Ben Koper, who’s mauled by the polar bear and he and Lukas are best friends, so I think they’ll make an appearance. I’m not sure how much will remain in the book once final edits are done, so I can’t promise anything!
SHAREE Tell us about book two and when does it release?
LAURIE I don’t want to give out too many spoilers, but Ben has to deal with PTSD after his attack and the uncertainty of whether he will be able to recover and use his right arm again. His life revolves around being a police officer, and he doesn’t want to do anything else. His past will catch up to him as well. When it will release, I have no idea but I’m hoping next year!
SHAREE I loved the way you addressed Kira’s uncertainty about how to treat and talk to Sophie. I have an adult niece who has Down Syndrome, so this was a touching part of your story for me as well. What advice would you give to someone meeting a child with Down’s versus meeting an adult with Down’s?
LAURIE Whenever you meet anyone with a disability, I’d say the best thing to do is look them in the eye, smile at them, and talk to them directly. Don’t raise your voice as if they’re deaf (you’d be amazed at how often people do that!) and don’t talk down to them. A child with Down’s is just that—a child—so speak to them as a child. When you meet an adult with Down’s then introduce yourself by first name and ask them what their name is… you’ll be able to tell by how they respond to you verbally how well they can speak, but that won’t tell you anything about them cognitively.
My son and daughter both have Down Syndrome. And they speak much less than they can understand. We don’t “discuss” important things around them because they have the memories of elephants! But if you judged them on how they put a five word sentence together, you’d never know that they can memorize twelve months of birthdays, travel vacations, and Mom’s weekend retreats!
LAURIE THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR BEING HERE TODAY!!!
Thank you so much for having me, Sharee! It’s been wonderful visiting your blog.
Friends, don’t delay! Get your copy of Northern Deception!
About the Author:
Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.