IR– What does it mean to you to be called an author?
LOJ– It’s who I am! I love writing, have loved it since I was a young teen and came up with an idea for a story that I never finished, but from then on I wrote whenever I could. And now, with 57 traditionally published books, I have to say that I not only love writing, I love being an author and having readers aware of what I write—even though now I’ve taken my first pseudonym!
IR– Which book are we talking about today?
LOJ– It’s BEAR WITNESS, my first Alaska Untamed mystery for Crooked Lane Books, under my first pseudonym Lark O. Jensen.
IR– Can you tell us a bit about the story and its main characters?
LOJ– The story takes place in and around Juneau, Alaska. My protagonist, Stacie Calder, is a naturalist who gives tours on a boat in the waters and fjords around Juneau. She has her dog Sasha, a beloved husky, at her side. Other characters include the officers and crew of her tour boat, her assistant tour guide Lettie, people who take the tours—including the man who gets murdered–and Liam Amaruq, an officer with the new Initial Response Section of the Alaska State Troopers who helps to investigate the murder and becomes Stacie’s love interest.
IR– What inspired the idea for your book?
LOJ– I was inspired when I took a similar tour on a real boat while on an Alaskan cruise, loved the sights and the wildlife and the people who provided the tour.
IR– Tell us about a favorite character from the book.
LOJ– That would be Stacie herself. She loves animals, especially the wildlife she sees and points out to the tourist on her boat.
IR– Where did you come up with the names in the story?
LOJ– I’m always coming up with character names so they come from my mind or when I do research on the internet or whatever works. One of my favorite names is Stacie’s dog Sasha—and Sasha means “defender,” which she is.
IR– If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?
LOJ– If I was Stacy’s friend, I’d accompany her on as many boat tours as I could and look for the wildlife she points out and even more!
IR– How do you define success as an author?
LOJ– Enjoying what you write and, if possible, getting it published or publishing it yourself so others can read it.
IR– Can you share a day in the life of an author?
LOJ– With me, it’s… writing! When I can. I now have a new puppy who requires a lot of attention, but I try to wear her out by playing, and then let her lie in a crate at my side and sleep while I’m at the computer. I used to be an attorney and then would get up an hour earlier than anyone else in my family to write.
IR– What was the defining moment that made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to write a book that I will publish.”?
LOJ– Not sure there was a defining moment. That was always my goal, from the time I was young, maybe early teens, and started writing my first story.
IR– How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?
LOJ– I just keep on writing, and planning and plotting. Sometimes I write more than other times, but I always write.
IR– What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?
LOJ– Just do it! Learn all you can about the genres you’re interested in, join chapters of appropriate writing organizations, and have fun.
IR– What are you working on in the near future?
LOJ– I’m working on the next story in my Alaska Untamed mystery series, plus I’m also writing more Harlequin Romantic Suspense stories, the other kind of novels I’m writing these day—also a lot of fun.
IR– What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?
LOJ– Generally the plot does. I know what’s going to happen and in what location, and then the characters who’ll handle the matters appear. Unless it’s a series I’ve already started, of course, and then the characters come first.
IR– What has been your favorite reader feedback?
LOJ– Getting good communication, sometimes by reviews and sometimes by contact on Facebook, from readers who enjoy my stuff.
IR– What is your author spirit animal?
LOJ– I’m a dog lover, a cynophilist, so my spirit animal has to be a dog, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
IR– If you had your own talk show, what would the topic be and who would be your first guest(s)?
LOJ– The topic would be celebrities, and writers and their dogs. And I’d enjoy having Hugh Jackman, who is also a dog-lover as well as a wonderful entertainer, and his dogs join me.
Bear Witness is a solid start to a new series. This series is set on the frontier of Juneau Alaska. Stacie Calder is a boat tour guide, spending her days telling tourists about the wildlife and Majestic landmarks of the Alaskan wilderness. She is interrupted by a tourist who seems bound to convince others that there are issues with the boat and the cruise lines. When he later turns up dead, she is tasked with catching up with her fellow employees for information about what almost has to be a murder.
The beautiful descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness and its inhabitants was breathtaking. Visit inducing even. I never really warmed to Stacie but I enjoy her fount of knowledge of the wildlife. I did appreciate her style of investigation. There were plenty of timely reveals to keep the story on pace, and I most certainly did not catch on to the killer, though in hindsight there are a few obvious moments.
I received an advance review copy for free through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
About The Book
Alaska tour boat guide Stacie Calder faces the deep freeze in this scenic cozy series debut perfect for fans of Paige Shelton.
No nine-to-five cubicle career will suit Stacie Calder—the naturalist much prefers working in the great outdoors. Specifically, the spacious and spectacular Alaskan wilderness, whose rugged charms she shares with sightseers on the top deck of the tour boat where she works. But one May afternoon, Stacie’s passengers see more than glittering glaciers, frolicking harbor seals, climbing bears and soaring seabirds…they also witness a man lying dead in the frigid Alaskan waters. And it seems likely that someone gave him a fatal push.
Stacie didn’t know the unfortunate victim, but he sure wanted to know a lot about her. He spent most of his final afternoon bombarding her with questions quite awkward to answer. And when he wasn’t in her hair, he was arguing incessantly with the boat’s beleaguered crew. Which makes for a suspect list about as long as the passenger manifest. Furthermore, as police helicopters relentlessly circle her boat in search of any clues, Stacie is shaken to find herself on that suspect list.
Before the tour boat reaches shore Stacie—accompanied by her beautiful blue-eyed husky, Sasha—must deduce just who sent the testy tourist tumbling into the turgid waters and have the authorities take custody. Because if she can’t, then the killer might aim a fatal ice-cold stare at Stacie.
About the Author
Lark O. Jensen 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.
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