Stacie Calder is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Bear Witness, the first novel in the Alaska Untamed mystery series.
Welcome, Stacie. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Right now, I’m living inside Bear Witness, an Alaska Untamed Mystery. It’s the story of something that happens while I’m providing tours on a tour boat outside Juneau, Alaska. I’m a naturalist by love and vocation, so I always point out whatever fantastic wildlife I can off the boat where I work. Living inside that kind of story is delightful! Plus, I always bring along my wonderful husky, Sasha. Only… well, we sometimes get tourists onboard who aren’t very nice, including some who want to start a competing tour company. And then—well, I hate to talk about it, but one guy disappears during a tour far offshore, and his body is found in the water on our tour the next day. It turns out he’s been murdered, and we’ve got a bunch of suspects onboard, including our wonderful captain, Palmer Clementos. Even I’m somewhat of a suspect. But I’m determined in whatever I do, so I have to help find the answers.
Okay, enough about that for now. But yes, I’ve been told this story is part of a series. The writer let me know that and says I might get involved in having to solve additional murders in that area in Alaska. I love being in Alaska. But solving murders? I’d really rather not, but if they happen where I’m working, well, I might have to help solve them too.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
I’d say the writer controls more than I do. I mean, come on, murders? I’d much rather just view and point out and revel in having wildlife around. But I have to admit that I sometimes tell the writer what I’d like to do to help out, and she’s pretty good about listening to me and working that in.
How did you evolve as the main character?
Well, I’ve been told that the writer took a boat tour similar to the ones I help to give, in the same area, really enjoyed the staff onboard, especially those who gave the tours and pointed out the wildlife, and got inspired to write about similar tours. But she writes mysteries among other things, and had to figure out who might be skilled and determined enough to help solve murders. Me? Well, I don’t consider myself a detective, but I do think I’m skilled at what I do, and I’m always determined to do the best job possible in whatever I undertake. And so… well, that writer glommed on to me as not only one who provides tours, but also solves murders.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
I work for ClemTours, which is owned by the Clementos family, and I like them all. Those who captain the boats are the children of the senior Clementoses, and they’re all named after towns in Alaska. The captain of the ClemElk, the boat on which I work, is Palmer Clementos, and he’s a really nice guy—and a murder suspect in this story. I like him, and his assistant Steph Porter, and especially my assistant in giving tours, Lettie Amblex. And then, after the murder, when the investigation begins, I meet Officer Liam Amaruq of the new Initial Response Section of the Alaska State Troopers, and oh yes, I am partial to him. My favorite other character, though, is Sasha.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Alaska, in the waters and fjords near Juneau like Tracy Arm, with melting glaciers nearby? It’s wonderful! And there’s so much wildlife around that I adore pointing out to our tourists, like mama harbor seals and babies on ice in the water, and also humpback whales and porpoises, kittiwakes in the sky, and brown bears and wolves on the mountains along the shoreline. In the summer, it’s not especially cold, despite being Alaska.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
Well, I can’t say I’m glad I had to help solve a murder. And the situation… well, it turned out pretty interesting. I really had to do some digging and asking questions and putting myself in danger to figure things out. But I did it. And I think it came out as a pretty interesting story.
Thank you for answering my questions, Stacie, and good luck to you and your author, Lark O. Jensen, with Bear Witness, the first book in the Alaska Untamed mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Lark O. Jensen: Lark’s name is the pseudonym of Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer. Lark has written Bear Witness, the first Alaska Untamed mystery for Crooked Lane. Linda has written the Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series and the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink and the Pet Rescue Mysteries and Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime. Linda also writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and her stories often involve dogs.