The courageous true story of Jerri Nielsen Fitzgerald, the doctor who had to operate on and treat herself for breast cancer while serving at a research facility at the South Pole, stuck with me for years after I first heard it. It’s why Julie Rowe’s debut IceBound, set in that same extreme environment, caught my attention. Emilie Saunderson is a doctor, too, a new arrival to the South Pole station, which is under the perfectly capable supervision of Tom Wolinski. Carrying her own griefs, Emilie is the one who sees that beneath Tom’s drive to be the perfect leader is the fear of being close to anyone.
Opening line: “I must be crazy.” Dr. Emilie Saunderson stared out the porthole window of the cramped Twin Otter airplane at the frozen landscape of Antarctica.
A six word memoir for your protagonists: Tom: Tough times leave you bleeding…forever.
Emilie: Grief’s hold is hard to break.
The original inspiration or trigger points for the story: The inspiration for this story came at a conference workshop. An editor mentioned how she liked exotic settings, so I thought what more exotic location is there but Antarctica. I spent time working in the North West Territories of Canada when I was younger, so I know about cold weather living, the dark nights of winter and the crazy things people have to do to cope with isolation.
Your favorite line, scene, or moment from IceBound: I think my favorite line is this one: “Antarctica, and the people who come here, aren’t like the rest of the planet. Gravity still works, but that’s about it.”
An unexpected detour you took while researching the book: You mean I can only pick one? Researching this book was so much fun because there are so many unusual and insane things about Antarctica. I write medical romance, so the fact that the incidence of appendicitis in Antarctica is so much higher than anywhere else led me on a merry chase to discover why. But no one knows why. There’s a research project in there somewhere.
How did the unusual setting for IceBound influence your characters’ traits and arcs? The setting greatly influenced the characters. The setting is, in some ways, a character of its own. I used the extreme conditions to amplify each character’s conflicts, personality traits and journey. The isolation makes it impossible for these two damaged people to run from each other or their problems, and facing their individual demons is something they’ve both been running from for a long time.
Your next release takes place in Alaska. Are you on a mission to make parkas sexy, or is there something else that draws you to this kind of setting? There is definitely inherent adventure in it.
Parkas are sexy…when they come off! I love taking people to places they might not otherwise go – the polar regions are some of the harshest, yet beautiful places on earth. I’m thinking about a new story set in Iceland…all those glaciers and hot springs have so much potential.
I love the “Crazy Cold Facts” page on your website. Would you share a favorite fact here? One of my favourite facts is this one: “There are at least two active volcanoes in Antarctica, Mount Erebus (3794 m/12,448 ft) is the highest and has a permanent molten lava lake.” It’s amazing to me that both extremes in climate (hot and cold) can exist in the same place.
IceBound is your first published novel, but is it also your first novel? No, I wrote for over ten years before I sold IceBound to Carina Press. I’ve now sold them a second manuscript (which finaled in the 2006 Golden Heart contest) and I’m working on revisions on another manuscript I wrote two years ago. Unfortunately most of the manuscripts under my bed aren’t worthy of publication (they suck!).
What would you like to tell readers about Carina Press? What should writers know?
Readers, Carina Press is the place to find a story that’s different; good story telling, but set in an unusual place (like Antarctica!) or with non-conventional characters. I read a lot of the other Carina Press authors’ books and always find something fun, exciting and different.
Writers, if you’ve been told by agents that they don’t know how to sell your book, or by editors that they don’t know how to market your book, Carina Press is the publisher to submit to. They want those stories that don’t fit inside your typical romance novel box.
Your oddest or most reliable writing habit: Okay, I’m about to out myself as a weirdo, but…lots of writers like to have music playing in the background to help set the mood, right? Me, I prefer to put M*A*S*H episodes on as background noise while I’m writing.
Your favorite book when you were 10 years old: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
What other authors would you recommend for medical romance? Harlequin Mills & Boon in London England has had a medical romance line for over 60 years. We don’t see them often on this side of the pond, but I know several of the authors who write for them. I recommend anything Dianne Drake, Lynn Marshall, Laura Iding, Wendy S. Marcus and Jessica Mathews.
You can find more about Julie and her books at www.julieroweauthor.com. IceBound is available now, and her next release, North of Heartbreak, comes out in the spring.