ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

'Alaska. Why it speaks to me'. Yolanda Renee reveals a dark secret that has plagued her for years.

My guest today needs no introduction. Welcome Yolanda Renee and sincere congratulations on publishing the third in your murder series with Curiosity Quills Press. 

I warn you this is not your run-of-the-mill book tour post. Today Yolanda shares a dark secret which has haunted her for many years. No doubt it has had a deep impact on her writing. Take it away, my good friend and WEP partner...



Murder & Obsession Blog Tour

March 16, 2016         Denise Covey            Why Alaska

March 21, 2016         MichaelDi Gesu       Guest Post  
                               
March 25, 2016         StuartWest              Couples Counseling

March 28, 2016         AlexJ. Cavanaugh   It's All About Snark
      
March 30, 2016         Robyn Campbell        Character Interview

April 1 - 30                A to Z Challenge       Murder & Obsession


Why Alaska Speaks to Me

          Why is a fair question. Most all my work reflects the influence Alaska has had on me. Is it just the 'write what you know' tool or an obsession? I'm betting it's a little of both.
         
                 
           If you've ever seen any picture of Alaska, you can get a sense of the magnificence, but until you visit the state – there's no way to describe what such beauty does to your soul. I fell in love in a matter of minutes – the drive from the airport was enough for me to feel as though I'd come home. A feeling I'd never felt anywhere else, but I also realized that part of it was the distance from family and other worries that allowed me to breathe easy for the first time in years.
Alaska was a magnificent opportunity and one I grasped with both hands. I embraced each new adventure and found happiness, something I'd never known before to any degree. But in less than a year, I'd lost my soul...
Raped by my boss, a man I'd trusted, turned my new world upside down. And even though I completely suppressed the memory for over 10 years, I was changed. 
Drastically. 
Completely. 
Permanently.
          So why do I write about Murder occurring in such a lovely place? Because the ugliest things happen in the most beautiful places. Serial killers haunt all lands and Alaska is no exception. In 1984, Robert (Bob the Baker) Hanson was sentenced to 461 years for the rape and murder of four women. He confessed to the rape of 30 and the killing of 21. Most of the women were prostitutes. Hanson then flew them out into the bush (wilderness) where he let them go so he could hunt them down. He killed them with a high-powered rifle and left them to the animals. Unbelievable!

I lived in Anchorage during his reign. I walked past the area he trolled, 4th Avenue, on my way to work for Calista, a native corporation where I worked as an accountant. Such things leave an impression, and, I'm certain, come out in my writing. Life experiences, places, people I've met all influence my stories but I've chosen to write murder mysteries, romance, and horror because I find the genre closely fits with my own search for answers to some of life's most horrid questions.
In The Snowman, a WIP, I mention the Hanson killings, but in Murder & Obsession, my latest release, the antagonist has different goals -- he's in love with a woman he can't have, and determined that if he can't have her, no one else will.  
Here is an excerpt that speaks to his intent: This is a nightmare that haunts Steven as he flees incarceration and searches for answers.

A scenic trail, bright sunshine, and clear skies. Steven and Sarah followed the river south.
“You do realize we’ll take the same trail back,” Steven informed her after they’d stopped yet again to take photographs.
“I know, but not until after lunch. The light will be different then.”
“The middle of winter and you want to eat lunch in the cold.”
“I want to do more than eat lunch. This is a honeymoon, isn’t it? You brought a tent and sleeping bag for a reason.”
Steven laughed. His angel loved getting naked in the snow. Only half a mile later, Sarah stopped again to snap a few pictures of the valley laid out before them, and Steven had to admit, the day was perfect. No, he thought, she’s perfect. He gazed at his wife with admiration.
The red laser light of a rifle sight bounced off the white of her fur collar, and the fracture of a gunshot registered just as Sarah dropped to the ground.
Steven was instantly at her side, his gaze on the area where the blast originated.
The shooter stepped out from his hiding place, pocketed his gun, and declared, “If I can’t have her, neither will you. See how you enjoy life without Sarah by your side.”

*****
At one time adventure called to me and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun of Alaska, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries, and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.
Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two wonderful sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!
You can find Yolanda at:
Amazon
Thank you, Denise, for hosting me and allowing me to discuss my favorite place and its influence on my life and my writing.

A tweet to share, thank you! 
I would so appreciate it!


Murder & Obsession is now available. Please share my celebration - wine or chocolate - your choice! Salute!http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Obsession-Detective-Quaid-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01CRYKNH6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

It would thrill Yolanda if you had a conversation with her here on my blog...Here are some prompts...

  • Do you read murder mysteries?
  • Do you ever wonder why authors choose to write about murder?
  • Do you have any specific question/s for Yolanda. She'd be happy to respond.



DEFENDING THE PEN



52 comments:

  1. Thanks, Denise.
    You've been supporting me since book one and it means the world to be here for book three. Sharing such a revelation is both frightening and freeing. I understand the freeing part, it's the frightening part that leaves me wondering, Why? Odd isn't it, but guilt is the one emotion hardest to let go.

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    1. Guilt belongs to the guilty ... you are a survivor of a crime not the criminal. And moving on and making it the catalyst for your novels makes you a winner. But wounds take time to heal. I am proud of you, Yolanda. May this novel hit high sales for you! Roland

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    2. I echo our dear friend Roland, Yolanda. You have nothing to feel guilty about. It's taken a long time, but I wish you strength as you embrace freedom from this betrayal that has been eating away at you. Continue your amazing writing journey with gusto and chuzpah as our Jewish friends say.

      My pleasure to support you, as always.

      Denise :-)

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    3. Thank you, Roland, your words brought tears. I hope someday to move beyond tears. Maybe this is the first step!
      Thanks, Denise, making that first step here was the right decision. Maybe now that memoir I've always wanted to write will happen now that my biggest fear (secret) has been exposed.

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  2. It's very brave of you to reveal your hidden secret. Like Roland says, you move on. So glad you survived the emotional upheaval and pushed it aside. I know what you mean about a place that calls to you. I felt that way about Vancouver when I first laid eyes on the city. . .Best wishes for success with Murder and Obsession, it sounds like a riveting story.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, D. G.
      Vancouver is an amazing city. You are so lucky. Roland is right and I'm taking his words to heart. I used to say writing fiction was my way of expressing my truth. Maybe now I won't have to hide behind the word fiction any longer.

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  3. What a terrible thing to have happened. I find writing can help me to explore my feelings of real life incidents. Continue to be strong.

    Alaska looks like such a beautiful place, I'd love to visit one day.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Annalisa, it's an exciting place. I do hope you get to visit. And yes, writing has been very cathartic and I know will continue to be.

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  4. As Roland says - can't put it better. That you've turned around such a horrific experience into awesome, well-crafted, utterly captivating books speaks volumes for your spirit and talent both. I am so glad you have been able to move on. Kudos.

    I can relate completely to your feelings about Alaska, we each have a place like that - where the drive from the airport makes us fall in love. My 'Alaska' happens to be Africa, and I fell in love with her rather precociously as a child of eight, though it took me a while to figure that one out :)

    All the very best for Murder & Obsession and the whole trilogy, love the cover and the contents both.

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    1. Hi Nila, Roland wrote just what I needed to read. Thank you too, and for the kind words about my books. I enjoy writing them. I'd love to see Africa, and so many other places. Who knows, anything is possible.

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  5. So sorry for what you've gone through. I've always wanted to visit Alaska. I think I could fall in love with the vast spaces with few people. Good luck with your book.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Natalie,
      Vast spaces is an understatement but very apropos and an amazing sight!

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  6. That's horrible. I hope your boss got what was coming to him. I'm glad you still have such good memories of Alaska.

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    Replies
    1. I hope so too, Alex! There's one judgment he can't escape and that gives me peace.

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  7. Alaska sounds wonderful. I too hope your boss got what was coming to him. Good luck with the book.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jo!
      It's a real dream come true to see all three published.

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  8. Congratulations, Yolanda. I can relate to your traumatic experience. Though I've never been raped, I did have to fight off someone I knew. And, there was always the threat of death lingering over me while I was growing up in a small farming community (from within my home). I didn't realize until much later in life how deeply those experiences had influenced my life choices. And, always will. But I do see how and why I write the stories I write. I wish you great success and joy.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Judy, I appreciate your kind words. Being a girl isn't an easy walk is it. Threats come from all around, but it's the ones you least expect that hurt the most. I wasn't aware either, for a very long time. The art of suppression is strong, but sometimes not strong enough. Still, dealing with the reality is a new journey and one I'm finally ready to make.

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  9. It's very brave of you to tell your story, Yolanda. I know you mentioned this trauma to me, but I had no idea the details. I'm so sorry! This gives me an all-new perspective on the stories you write.

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    Replies
    1. Thank, Chrys:
      I appreciate your understanding. When touched by evil there's a desire to understand the darkness, if not defeat it, even if it's only in a fictional story.

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  10. The perpetrators of evil don't always get punished in this life, but I know there's a higher judge. But here, we suffer in either case, and struggle against wanting revenge; against bitterness and anger, etc. Channeling our emotions into fiction, as you've done, Yolanda, is one of the best ways to work through the trauma. And I LOVE murder mysteries/thrillers. The excerpt you've shared is chilling/intriguing, and makes me want to read this book! When - notice I say when, not if - I do, I'll definitely leave a review. Reviews are crucial for all of us writers.

    Number three in a series. Well done!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ann: I love that you said when. You made me smile. Writing is very cathartic and it's done wonders for me in many ways and through numerous trauma's. Life is a journey fraught with many obstacles, some we ignore to our own detriment. Time to face it and move on, which this post is helping me to do.

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    2. So true about catharsis. Glad this is helping.

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  11. I'm so very sorry. If he didn't get punished here, we know what waits for him.

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  12. That's awful, Yolanda, but you're so brave to talk about it and to channel your feelings into your novels. Your book's antagonist sounds horrible - but that's a great characteristic for a villain. Wishing you much success with your whole series! :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lexa, it's taken me years to find my courage. Now, after today, I wonder why.

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  13. Sounds fascinating. I visited Alaska for the first time last summer and it is a unique place and an excellent setting. Good luck with your series.

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    1. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to visit Alaska, Linda! It's a wonderful feeling to have the trilogy done. On to bigger and better, or maybe just another book in the series. :)

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  14. Your book sounds fascinating, Yolanda.
    I'm so sorry you had such a horrific experience to deal with. I trust from here on out, your life is filled with joy and wonder.
    Hugs

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandra.
      Life is full and releasing painful secrets allows the joy in.

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  15. I'm so sorry this happened to you. Our horrible experiences can pop up into our writing. I find it cathartic, in fact. You are brave for sharing this.

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    1. Hi Medeia, it is cathartic. Thank you for your kind words, but it's not brave that I'm feeling, but relieved, yes. Free, definitely!

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  16. Congratulations on your new book! I am sorry that someone took advantage of your trust like that, Yolanda. He's an animal. I take my hat off to you for turning your experiences into inspiration for your novels. You are an inspiration. You encourage me to keep writing, because now my problems just seem petty. I always thought Alaska was beautiful. Now, I'm just mad at it for letting bad things happen to good people.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Murees. Your words heal my heart. Alaska is a beautiful place, always inspiring, and writing has always been freeing.

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  17. Hi, Denise, Hi, Renee...

    I am speechless. Life experiences often COLOR our creative muse. Thankfully your heart and strong spirit overcame the horror. And sadly, woman/girls are not the only ones subject to such atrocities. As a young male model, two men tried to take advantage of me. Thankfully I knew how to protect myself and take out the TRASH... We all need to teach our children at a young age to be aware and know how to ward off such advances in life.

    I am so glad that your experience hadn't tainted your love for Alaska. NO ONE has the right to take that away from anyone. Thankfully you have that passion for life and for Alaska.

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    1. Thanks, Michael.
      I agree, children need to be given the tools early on. Such events color all parts of our lives, but also make us the people we are. Thank you for sharing your own experience. I think that's the key - taking back the power!

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  18. Hi Yolanda and Denise - I commented on Romance Writer .. having got there first ... but you've some very salient and pertinent comments here ... I feel for you - and consider myself lucky to have got away ... all the very best to you both - Hilary

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Hilary, I appreciate your kind words, and I'm glad too, that you were lucky!

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  19. My heart broke when I read that you were raped, Yolanda. At the same time, I think you are an inspiration, having managed to stand up after such a terrible event.

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    1. Thanks, Misha! I don't feel like an inspiration, more like a coward, but sharing this has freed me from the guilt. That's more than enough!

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  20. Yolanda, it's nice to meet you! I agree with Misha, you are an inspiring example of courage, moving forward after such an awful experience. Thank you for your candor. Wishing you well with your book.

    Denise, thanks so much for hosting Yolanda. I appreciate the introduction. Thanks also for stopping by my blog for Hilary's interview. Your comments about her made me smile - you are so right! She is a treasure. Have a lovely weekend! :)

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    1. Thank you, Karen, I appreciate your kind words. I'll just say ditto for what I wrote in my comment to Misha.

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  21. You're incredibly brave! Your strength is admirable, and it comes through in your powerful stories. Writing is therapy for me too. I would be long lost without it. I've never been to Alaska, but I've always wanted to go. As you know! ;)

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    Replies
    1. We still have an interesting discussion to finish don't we. Thanks, Christine, your kind words mean the world to me!

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  22. Sounds like a great book Yolanda.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks, Nancy. I just got my first review via email, and I think I've hit the nail on the head. Huge sigh of relief because waiting for that first review is so stressful. :-)

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