As you know already, I have reviewed and adored My Last Continent by Midge Raymond. So for her blog tour:
Deb was created when I wrote a short story called “The Ecstatic Cry” shortly after returning from my own visit to Antarctica. I was so in love with the continent and the penguins—and also worried about tourism, climate change, and other issues affecting Antarctica—and I channeled all this into the character of Deb. Of course, she’s not like me in that she’s a scientist and loves the cold—as a writer and native Californian, I’m quite opposite in these respects. I enjoyed developing her further as I began writing the novel, and I knew that for her to fall in love, it had to be with someone who is as passionate about Antarctica as she is. So this is where I began with Keller—figuring out what brought him there and why he felt such a strong a connection to the continent.
2) All the research that went into this…what actually entailed the research of this novel?
Much of my research was firsthand—from my visit to Antarctica and all that I learned while I was there, as well as a stint as a penguin researcher in Argentina, at the Punta Tombo colony in Chubut Province. However, I’ve never been to McMurdo and so I had to research what life is like at the station (through books, documentaries, and the U.S. Antarctic Program’s newspaper, The Antarctic Sun). And reading about the explorers also provided a wonderful sense of history as well as setting.
3) I loved your writing so much. Any strong influences to your style?
My writing background is in journalism, and so I love details. My photos and journals were a big source of inspiration for writing the novel. I love the austerity of writers like Ernest Hemingway and Amy Hempel, and they’ve both been big influences for me.
4) Because everyone reading this would want a standard published-author question: How did you get your agent? Had it been a tough process?
I feel very fortunate to have such a fantastic agent. I had no special connections or anything like that — I simply sent a query via her website. I think it’s wonderful that there are agents out there who are still open to reading everything, even if it’s a debut novel from an unknown writer.
5) You chose to leave your readers reeling from heartbreak after turning the final page. What influenced this decision? That same tragic ending of the Titanic?
As readers know from the early pages of My Last Continent, the Australis does meet the same fate as the Titanic. I didn’t know, however, what would happen to the characters, and this was a process of discovery as I wrote the novel. And the ending actually changed a couple of times before I felt I got it right. I had a lot of tough decisions to make, but in the end I feel as though the story went where it was meant to go.
6) I was telling some friends on Instagram how much this book has not received the praise it deserves. And one of them suggested people are bound to make more fuss about a book if it’s the author’s debut and it’s this great. What do you think? (And by praise, I mean reader popularity on Goodreads.)
I certainly hope that readers enjoy the novel and share it with other readers! As an author, you have to accept what readers feel about your book because there’s nothing you can do about this aspect of it — all you can do is write the very best book you can. I’m grateful to all those who have embraced the book so far, and I hope it continues to find more and more readers.
7) Your book talks about strong themes. Global warming. Saving Antarctica. Women in science. What one, important lesson do you want readers to take from it?
Most of all, I hope readers enjoy the story. But I do also hope that it makes people think about the continent and how important it is that we protect it.
8) What are you working on next? And when is it due?
I’ve got a new novel in mind, but so far that’s exactly where it is — still in my head. I look forward to having more time later this year to start writing. I have no deadline, so I’ll need to come up with one to keep myself on track.
MIDGE RAYMOND TOOK A TRIP TO ANTARCTICA, AND BELOW ARE THE LOVELY PENGUINS SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH:
Published on 28th July 2016 by Text Publishing in TPB, priced at £10.99
‘Midge Raymond has an extraordinary gift for description that puts the reader bang in the middle of the action, bang in the middle of its dangerous and endangered world. She is clearly a writer in command of her craft.’ ML Stedman, author of The Light Between the Oceans
Blurb: It is only at the end of the world – among the glacier mountains and frigid waters of Antarctica – where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.
A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. Except that this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Shortly into the trip, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters. And among the crew of the sinking ship is Keller…
An unforgettable debut love story, set against the dramatic landscape of Antarctica. Lyrical, page-turning and emotionally intelligent, My Last Continent is a stunning novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth.
About the Author: Midge Raymond is an award-winning short-story writer who worked in publishing in New York before moving to Boston, where she taught creative writing. She has published two books for writers, Everyday Writing and Everyday Book Marketing. Midge lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is co-founder of the boutique publisher Ashland Creek Press. My Last Continent is her first novel.