Photographer/subject u/k: photograph from Google search.
You've seen this photo before - it's my "inspiration" photo for Kira Summers, the heroine of NORTHERN DECEPTION. I found this generic shot on Google two years ago, looking for light brunette actresses and her eyes caught my attention. Not knowing who she really is made it easier to "cast" her in my mind's eye movie.
This week I'd like to share my updated Pinterest Board for the book. It's got photos of most of the real-life locations, as well as many wonderful polar bear shots I've collected doing my research for the story.
Here's the link to my Pinterest Board: bit.ly/2HuxPIn
This photo was taken by my husband a few years ago. This is the Inukshuk I mention in the book, when Lukas is taking his client group out to the Wildlife Management Area for their tour. It's on the shore of Hudson Bay, on the beach area. That's the Port of Churchill granaries building in the background. The granaries play a big part in the book as well.
This is the famous Cafe I modeled "Ruby's Cafe and Emporium" on. Gypsy's served as the only bakery in Churchill for almost thirty years. Unfortunately, it burned down on the long May weekend in 2018, and the owner hasn't rebuilt it.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Churchill, Manitoba, where my fictional police officers Ben Koper and Seth MacKenzie work.
I hope you've enjoyed this quick tour of Churchill, Manitoba, the setting for NORTHERN DECEPTION: Heroes of the Tundra.
You'll find more information about it here: Amazon
And if you enjoy the book, leaving a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads helps other readers to discover it! I'd be so grateful if you'd take a few minutes to leave just a couple of sentences with your thoughts about Kira and Lukas's love story.
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LAURIE: Hello Sean, welcome to the Blog! I’m glad you could join us today to talk about your new book and your writing journey. A romantic comedy is a bit different for a male author, so tell us about your book and what inspired you to write this story.
SEAN: I’m happy to be here. The Truth about Romantic Comedies tells the story of broken-hearted teenager who embarks on an experiment with an amateur social scientist to test whether the common tropes and clichés of romantic comedies actually help people fall in love. I’m kind of a random person so my inspiration could come from anywhere.
This particular book came from my desire to tell a story that was authentic to the experience of both Christian and non-Christian teens. I work with some wonderful young people every day and I wanted to write something that would resonate with them and that they would enjoy.
LAURIE: What draws you to writing romantic comedy as opposed to straight up romance a la Nicholas Sparks, or tough guy books like James Patterson or Stephen King?
SEAN: I thought Nicholas Spark’s wrote for tough guys? I’ve read The Notebook, it’s about a World War II veteran who builds a house with his bare hands, doesn’t get much tougher than that. Wait? It’s really a tale of devotion and the building of the house is really a metaphor isn’t it? Forgive me, I make that mistake all the time. For years I thought Charlotte’s Web was some kind of internet search engine.
I like to have fun and I like to twist genres so everything I write is usually more than one thing and there’s almost always humor incorporated. For example, The Truth about Romantic Comedies, while full of humor, also contains a family drama about a single mother trying to balance raising a teenage son while caring for her own mother who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s.
My number one goal when writing a book is to tell a good story and usually those stories end up more in the “tough guy” territory but not this one. The characters never really took me in that direction. Personally, I think Timothy, the protagonist of this story, is a tough guy in his own way, actually some of the best ways a young man can be tough.
LAURIE: Are there any authors who’ve influenced you in your writing?
SEAN: I read widely and I try to learn something from every author I read. It’s hard to pin down even a few that have influenced me. I have my literary heroes though, people like C.S. Lewis, John Green, Ray Bradbury and whoever wrote the Where’s Waldo? books. I one day hope to spin a yarn as good as those guys.
LAURIE: How long has it taken you to get published? Any advice for those still waiting?
SEAN: Getting published? Yeesh! And I thought finding a date for the prom was hard. I’ve been writing seriously for 10 years and it took nearly that long to get published, but after many a rejection (and I mean many), it finally happened. With that in mind, I can offer no greater advice than the words of the wise hillbilly, Joe Dirt, “You gotta keep on keepin’ on.”
Seriously, persevere. Keep at it. Learn from every mistake and look at each rejection like a stepping stone to something greater.
LAURIE: Do you listen to music when you write or have any kind of special ritual to get you in the groove?
SEAN: American President John Quincy Adams used to swim naked in the Potomac River before embarking on his daily duties. I don’t do that. I usually grab my laptop, kick my feet up and get to work. I do like to listen to movie scores why I write, especially themes that match the scene that I’m writing. Right now on the eve of my book release, I’m listening to Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Final Game” from the underdog football flick, Rudy.
LAURIE: What hobbies do you like to do when you’re not writing?
SEAN: Wait? You’re not working for the Russians are you? I’m joking of course. I’m a history teacher and coach by day, and in the evenings when I’m not on the hunt for evil Decepticons with my three-year-old son, I’m usually playing video games, reading or watching Netflix with my daughters. Those things aren’t technically hobbies, but I love doing them. I also host a podcast with a childhood friend where we discuss movies. It’s called The Mc’s on Movies and though we are still building an audience, we have a lot of fun doing it.
LAURIE: Anything else you’d like our readers to know about you and your work?
SEAN: I want to get to know my audience. Everybody has a story and I want to know yours. So hit me up on social media and tell me something interesting about yourself. If you read the book, let me know that too and please let others know about it. The Truth about Romantic Comedies is an underdog and no underdog ever prevails without people in her corner.
LAURIE: What’s your favourite Nickelback song?
SEAN: I first heard Nickelback on a burnt CD my older brother brought home from college. The song was called “Leader of Men.” It was a good, but hands down, my favorite is “Far Away.” Believe it or not, that song was the song my wife and I first danced to as a married couple. Just the other day, my wife and I were driving home from our local YMCA and that song came on the radio. Without saying a word, my wife reached over and slipped her fingers into mine. This may sound corny, but I live for moments like that.
LAURIE: It doesn’t sound corny at all! It sounds to me like you’re a true Renaissance Man. And maybe that’s why you can write romantic comedies well. And finally, how long do we have to wait for your next book?
SEAN: I wish I had a solid answer for you. I’m revising a manuscript I wrote last year that I hope to submit to agents and editors by the beginning of summer. If you read The Truth about Romantic Comedies and you want to read more of my work, you can always check out some of the short stories I’ve posted on my website www.mcmurraymuses.com. Also, I have a Christian Zombie Apocalypse novella on Amazon that I self-published called The Lonely Living. It’s rough around the edges so I don’t know how long it will remain available but you can check it out if you would like.
Thanks for having me, Laurie!
LAURIE: It’s been my pleasure, Sean. You can find The Truth About Romantic Comedies at: BOOK LINK
Sixteen-year-old Timothy Gephart’s life is a chronicle of loser-hood. Trapped by the decaying walls of his family’s trailer and saddled with the responsibility of caring for a grandmother stricken with a wicked combination of Alzheimer’s and cancer, Timothy isn’t exactly thriving in the teenage chapter of his life. To make matters worse, his girlfriend inexplicably dumps him through a text message. Heartbroken, Tim drives his grandmother to and from her radiation treatments as if the last page of his life has already been written. And then the enigmatic Rachel Wilson struts into the cancer center’s waiting room.
Self-proclaimed social scientist Rachel Wilson hasn’t reconciled herself to her mother’s cancer, but she’s doing her best to stay positive…and distracted. With his dry wit and easy acceptance of her bright blue hair, Timothy might be the answer to a prayer Rachel hasn’t had the strength to ask.
As a fast friendship blossoms into something more, Timothy and Rachel learn that Rachel’s father’s job will soon take her family to a new life across the country. Knowing that their time together is running out, Timothy and Rachel go all in on an experiment that will put every romantic comedy cliche to the test, to say nothing of the foundation on which their relationship was built. Happily-ever-after has never been so hard.
About the Author:
Sean C. McMurray grew up on the mean rural roads of southwestern Ohio where he honed his storytelling skills on anyone willing to listen. Now he does it professionally as an author and history teacher. Sean still lives in rural Ohio with the love of his life and his favorite audience, their three little children.
When I decided to write a romantic suspense novel set in Canada, I thought, “what’s more Canadian than polar bears?” Polar bears and igloos are some of our most iconic Canadian symbols. And because I live in Winnipeg which is Manitoba’s provincial capital and just 1,000 km (620 mi) south of Churchill, I researched this small town in northern Manitoba to see what mischief I could come up with for a story.
Churchill sits on the western shore of Hudson Bay 110 km (68 mi) from the Manitoba-Nunavut border. It’s northerly. It’s right on the 58th parallel north far above Canada’s most populated areas. To compare, Juneau, Alaska, and Inverness, Scotland, also sit on the 58th parallel north. And yet, Churchill is still 2807 km (1744 mi) south of Alert, Nunavut–or the North Pole–at the top of Canada, which gives you an idea of how vast Canada’s far north is in size.
The town of Churchill from the air.
However, back to my love of polar bears! Churchill is called “The Polar Bear Capital of the World” because of their migration down through Churchill which takes place during October and November. An average of 300 bears come straight through the town and surrounding area, out to the frozen Hudson Bay onto sea ice where they spend the winter hunting ringed seals.
Tourism is brisk with various guiding companies taking clients out on the tundra in specialized “Tundra Buggies” built to navigate both the difficult terrain and protect people from the bears. There is even a “Polar Bear Jail” where nuisance bears who can’t stay away from town or people are tranquilized by natural resources officers and then taken by helicopter further north and released back in to the wild when the ice freezes over.
In my debut novel NORTHERN DECEPTION: Heroes of the Tundra, Book One, my heroine is a polar bear scientist doing research at the Arctic Science Research Centre in Churchill and my hero owns one of the Tour Guiding Companies. I’ve used all the proper sites in Churchill but changed the names of businesses because of trademarks. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the CEO of Frontiers North Company were generous with their time in answering my research questions.
Canada is much more than a “land of snow and ice”. Our country has Rocky Mountain ranges, vast prairie regions, the Great Lakes, and the beautiful Maritime provinces. But when I decided to set my reunion romance in a remote setting I chose Churchill, Manitoba because I wanted the unique cache of sled dogs, polar bears, and the small town camaraderie of the far north.
I hope you’ll enjoy this tale of two people who find themselves back together in different circumstances and thrust into danger through no fault of their own. You can buy it from Amazon.
Note: This blog originally appeared on International Christian Fiction Writers on October 24, 2018. Copyright Laurie Wood.
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I'm a military wife who's raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. We've lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When I'm not writing, I can be found spinning, knitting, and hanging out with my dogs.