USA Today bestselling author Julianne MacLean continues her Color of Heaven series with another fast-paced, emotionally gripping tale that will move and inspire you.
Carla Matthews is a single mother struggling to make ends meet and give her daughter Kaleigh a decent upbringing. When Kaleigh’s absent father Seth—a famous alpine climber who never wanted to be tied down—begs for a second chance at fatherhood, Carla is hesitant because she doesn’t want to pin her hopes on a man who is always seeking another mountain to scale. A man who was never willing to stay put in one place and raise a family.
But when Seth’s plane goes missing after a crash landing in the harsh Canadian wilderness, Carla must wait for news… Is he dead or alive? Will the wreckage ever be found?
One year later, after having given up all hope, Carla receives a phone call that shocks her to her core. A man has been found, half-dead, floating on an iceberg in the North Atlantic, uttering her name. Is this Seth? And is it possible that he will come home to her and Kaleigh at last, and be the man she always dreamed he would be?
Q. What was your inspiration for this novel?
When my father was fifteen years old, he went out rabbit hunting with a friend, and they wound up getting lost in the woods. He was living on the island of Cape Breton at that time, which is on the northern tip of Nova Scotia. I’ve never forgotten all the details of that story, and I often ask him to retell it at family dinners and gatherings, because it still fascinates me.
He and his friend were lost overnight, and when it began to snow, they had to seek shelter under a tree, which dumped snow on them repeatedly through the night. That, and some other actual details from his experience, ended up in my novel.
It was a great learning experience for my dad at that young age, and because of it, he later became a very skilled outdoorsman. He never goes into the woods without a compass and a sealed container for matches, among other things.
Here is a photo of him taken in the 1970's. He now takes all the photographs for the covers of my books in this series, including this one. You can learn more about that here.
Interestingly, he and his friend found their way out of the woods when they woke up Sunday morning and listened carefully for the distant sound of the church bells in town.
Q. How much research did you do?
I researched the type of private jet that the characters were on when they crashed, as well as wilderness survival techniques and mountain climbing equipment (because Seth was a professional climber). I also did a lot of research on the climate, animals and geography of the location where Seth and Aaron were stranded. Though I created a fictional island for Seth and Aaron, I based everything on the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, which is on the Strait of Belle Isle in the image to the left. In my imagination, they landed somewhere northwest of there, further out in the Labrador Sea, and the iceberg would have floated by on the Labrador current.
I also researched icebergs (I’ve been to Newfoundland a number of times in the past and have had the pleasure of seeing them float by off the coast.) I researched the plants and animals that would be found in that part of the world, including polar bears, walruses and killer whales.
The scene where the whales bump Aaron up against the iceberg was inspired by actual hunting techniques of killer whales in the wild. Here is a link to a fascinating video of how they work together as a team to sweep a seal off a slab of ice. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3xmqbNsRSk
There is no evidence of killer whales killing humans in the wild, so I was intentionally ambiguous about their intentions in that scene - to avoid getting angry letters from whale lovers :).
And here is a video of a polar bear hunting walruses on a beach (warning, it’s a bit graphic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7xTV_UUEXI
Here is a photo of a herd of Arctic Hares:
Lastly, these photos of icebergs helped me to envision what Aaron might have been up against: