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Edge of Wild (Stonehouse Publishing, 2016)
Transplanted from New York City to the tiny mountain town of Waterton, Alberta with the task of saving a floundering new hotel,Rich Evans is desperate to return to the city as soon as he can. The locals seem unusually hostile towards his efforts, or maybe even menacing, and was that a cougar on his door-step last night? As Rich begins to wonder whether his predecessor disappeared of his own accord, he finds himself strongly drawn to Louise Newman, the garage mechanic who is fixing his suddenly unreliable BMW, and the only person in Waterton who doesn’t seem desperate to run him out of town. As Rich works on the hotel, the town is torn apart by a series of gruesome, unsolved murders. With Louise as his only ally in a town that seems set against him, Rich can’t help but wonder: will he be the next victim?
The Dark Divide (Stonehouse Publishing, 2018)
Waterton is a town with dark secrets, and after a summer of murder and mayhem, American ex-pat, Rich Evans, knows exactly how far people will go to hide them. Jobless after the fiery destruction of the hotel he once managed, Rich is charged with arson. Only one person, local mechanic Louise “Lou” Newman, believes in his innocence. But even Lou’s love and support can’t dispel the darkness that’s spreading through the community. Dead animals appear on porches, strangers threaten the safety of the locals, and a fingerprint from the fire is linked to a decades-old murder.
The lonely border town has a new danger: a murderer willing to do anything to protect a web of secrets that links them to the arson.
As the risk of jail or death increases, Rich turns to Lou for guidance and she finds herself in an impossible position. Lou has her own secrets! Does she protect the border town where she grew up, or side with the man she loves… even if it means she can never tell him the truth about herself?
7. What are a few important questions for readers to discuss? (What are YOUR book club questions?)
- Have you ever been forced into the role of ‘outsider’? If so, how did you cope with that experience?
- Rich and Lou are, in many ways, opposites. Which one of them do you most identify with, and why?
- The story has an unknown figure who has committed several murders in the woods around the town of Waterton. Who do you think is the most likely suspect and why?
- Why do you think Lou tells stories? What do her stories mean (if anything)?
- Do you believe that opposites attract? Why or why not? What does this suggest for Rich and Lou?
- The local townspeople seem to be inordinately closed-off to any of Rich’s suggestions for the town. Why do you think that is?
- Have you ever been in a situation where you had to choose between your family and a friend? What did you choose, and why?
- The line between animalistic behavior and human empathy appears in a number of places in the novel. Do you believe that humans are ‘born’ with a predisposition to cruelty / kindness? Or do they learn it?
- The park becomes a character unto itself. If you had to describe the hinterland that surrounds the town as a person, what kind of person would he/she be?
- Rich, Lou, Hunter, Sadie, and many other characters in Edge of Wild change drastically over the course of the book. Select one character and describe their personal journey. Is their new ‘place’ in life good / bad / neutral? Why or why not?
6. What are your writing habits, philosophies, superstitions?
I have no superstitions about writing other than “you have less time than you think”.
When I decide to write something, I write it. If I’m having trouble getting the words to come, I push through. I give myself permission to write garbage if I need – or simply ramble – but I never stop. In the words of Nora Roberts: “You can’t edit a blank page.”
Word by word, paragraph by paragraph, I force the novel out, and in the end, it’s done.
It took me about two months to write the first draft of Edge of Wild, then another year to edit. I’m very pleased with the results. Currently, I’m editing the second book in the series: Hinterland. Perhaps, in another year, I’ll have news on that, too.
5. Give me a little insider info about you in relation to this book. Why did you write this?
As the daughter of a geologist, and granddaughter of a trapper, I grew up with a strong connection to the Canadian Rockies, and a love for the unbroken land. My personal experiences and numerous friendships with local ranchers / entrepreneurs from the Waterton area inspired the backstory, while the murder-mystery plot came completely from my imagination. In Edge of Wild I was careful to separate any fact from fiction, but if you know where to look, the echoes of friends are there. (My father, for instance, is one of the three boys lost on the mountain. And, according to his story, the trail really did disappear.)
One of the best parts about writing this book was using my own experiences. I have two very different and unique perceptions of Waterton: the one I developed as an adult, working there in the summers, and the other that remains as it was when I was a child, and the whole world was enchanted. With Lou’s mystical view of life, I was able to merge those two perceptions in a single story. It’s still reality, but a slightly altered one. I liked that.
4. If Edge of Wild had a soundtrack, what would be on it?
Edge of Wild Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/danika_stone/playlist/4ukEnJ03scoSgsVsm5deFt
- “Ends of the Earth,” Lord Huron
- “Your Bones,” Of Monsters and Men
- “Ahead by a Century,” The Tragically Hip
- “Monkeys Uptown,” Iron and Wine
- “Stolen Dance,” Milky Chance
- “Hurricane,” MS MR
- “Half Acre,” Hem
- “Settle Down,” Kimbra
- “Wax and Wire,” Loch Lomond
- “Nicest Thing,” Kate Nash
- “Into the Fire,” Sarah McLachlan
- “Rabbit Heart,” Florence & The Machine
- “Hide and Seek,” Imogen Heap
- “Song For A Winter’s Night,” Gordon Lightfoot
3. Give us a little insight into the background of the story? (setting, location, time period....)
Edge of Wild takes place in the spring / summer of 1999 in Waterton Park, Alberta, a hamlet located on the Canadian side of the US / Canada border. With little connection to the outside world, Waterton exists in much the same fashion it has for generations.
Into this mix steps New Yorker, Richard Evans, the newly-assigned manager of the Whitewater Lodge. Since the hamlet relies on the tourist trade, Rich is determined to drag the hotel into the twenty-first century. He expects he’ll be home in a matter of months. But as Rich begins to uncover the town’s dark secrets, he finds himself the unwilling target of someone who’ll do anything to protect them.
2. What would you like people to take from your work?
First and foremost, I hope I’ve spun a good yarn. If I kept you turning pages, I’m happy.
Beyond that, I want readers to feel a connection to the mountains. Although Edge of Wild has its macabre moments, I hope there’s enough untamed beauty to balance the brutality.
The first hint of Edge of Wild’s plot came from family stories. My father’s family settled in Waterton a hundred years ago, so my sense of place stretches generations. Waterton is a town which thrives on tourism, but in my father’s generation, it had a clear sense of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. Outsiders were kept under a watchful eye. The townsfolk didn’t like change, and were wary of those who did. That isolationism never shook my love of the place.
As a child, I spent my summers in the Park. These weeks and months had a magical quality, my love of the outdoors a tangible thing. Even the mountains themselves seemed to have characters. The mix of these personal experiences and an ache to write an edge-of-your seat thriller ultimately resulted in Edge of Wild. I loved the experience of building a brand new cast of characters, and putting them into a slightly-off kilter version of the town I knew so well.