Origins of When Oceans Rage, My 11th Novel



When Oceans Rage, my second Woman at the Helm Mystery, is dedicated to hundreds of boater friends who explored the seas with my husband and me.



Steve and I co-captained two boats starting in 1980, even if we had never owned nor operated large vessels before that year. Our first purchase, Ro-ven, a 34 foot Tollycraft sedan with twin gas engines, took us around Lake Washington, Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, and in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound. More ‘extreme’ adventures began in 1999 when we bought Intrepid, a Kady-Krogen trawler, 42 feet, 40,000 pounds, and powered by a single diesel Lehman. When we gained enough experience, we cruised up and down the Inside Passage from Washington State, two times making it all the way to Alaska and back. The scenery, the weather, the friendships…all transformative, unforgettable experiences.


I wrote about the isolated reaches north of Vancouver Island, B.C. in my first novel, Last Resort. Lie Catchers is my paean to the amazing town of Petersburg, Alaska. When Mountains Fall, the first of my Woman at the Helm Mystery Series reveled in the people and places around the Broughton Islands, with a focus on a tiny struggling marina in Waka Bay. This novel, When Oceans Rage,

a prequel to When Mountains Fall, drills in on commercial fishing and the town of Port McNeill, B.C. Truth is, the settings are so grand and the people living in the Broughtons are so special, that capturing their essence is not easy. I encourage you to witness the rustic beauty yourself, cruising the fjords, stopping at marinas, fishing for cod, prawns, and crab. Sublime experiences!


Since my passion is writing page-turning mysteries, I took great freedom in changing certain names and places, and I ramped up local conflicts to darken my plot. Still, I hope I captured the loveliness of the area and honored the hardy, friendly folks who live and work in the Archipelago. For some reason I’ve always been fascinated by men and women who make their living by fishing. Prawning in particular. Many years ago I met a man named Fred in the Broughtons. I buzzed up to his prawn boat in my dinghy and asked him about his vessel and his career. He even gave me his phone number so I could give him a follow-up call. Since it took me another ten years to write When Oceans Rage,

and I needed a more recent update on the business, I contacted prawners Yvonne and Albert Maximchuck. They graciously answered my questions with the kind of brilliant detail that made my characters sound authentic. I am in awe of locals who forge a livelihood out of fishing. Their knowledge of boat mechanics, the nature of weather and ocean conditions, and how and where to catch prawns…amazing skills!


In all, it took eleven years for me to take this 11th novel from concept to publication. I loved the journey. I hope you enjoy When Oceans Rage as much as I cherished telling the story!

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