I just got back from my second trip to the southern oceans this year, and most people who know me have asked why I wanted to go in the first place, and why I wanted to go back. The first question is easy. I’ve always been fascinated by the wild places in the world and it doesn’t get much more remote, wild, or untamed than Antarctica. There’s something unholy about the rocking, rolling ocean and the tumbling glaciers and all that white on the Antarctic continent. And then there’s South Georgia Island with its proliferation of tussock grasses and seals and penguins. Having animals walk right up to you, nose to nose, is quite a thrill.
Even though we revisited a few places, we saw entirely different things because this second trip was coming into the Austral summer, while the first was well entrenched in the fall season. Last time, most of the penguin chicks had fledged and were already off to sea, where they actually spend most of their lives. This time, we saw tens of thousands of chicks. Interestingly, they’re about the same size as the parents, but they still sported brown feathers, which aren’t the least bit waterproof. So they can’t even consider going to sea until their plumage changes. That goes for the adults too, while they’re molting. They’re sort of dead in the water, not to make a pun, and stuck for several weeks until their new plumage comes in.
So what does all this have to do with writing? That’s easy enough. I’m one of those visual writers. I need to be able to see what something looks like in my mind’s eye to do it justice on my screen. It’s not accidental that my books that take place in cities where I’ve been. And I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that I have a book coming next March, Icy Passage, that takes place in Antarctica.
Interestingly, comments from betas and my editor at the publishing house have run full circle. Some readers wanted way more Antarctica, while my publisher wanted less. A couple of places, my editor said “too much like a travelogue.” LOL! Guess that means I’ll have to write a second book sometime.
The ice dragons I was certain would be a part of the first book never made so much as a cameo appearance.
Icy Passage is actually more of a science fiction romance than urban fantasy, though I have to admit (blushing) that a few fantastical elements crept in. Here’s the blurb if you’re curious.
Fresh out of residency, Dr. Kayna Quan opts for a tour in Antarctica. Money is short, so she hires on as medical officer aboard a Russian research vessel headed for McMurdo Station. Primed for almost anything, she plays her paranormal ability close to the vest. Being odd man out in a world where most don’t believe in magic makes her wary and feisty.
Stationed on remote South Georgia Island for two years, Brynn McMichaels is eager for a change. When cultures of the single-celled organism, archaea, overgrow their bins in his lab and begin shifting into another form, he worries he’s losing his mind and talks with scientists at McMurdo, but they have problems of their own—bad ones. After he hears about them, Brynn agrees to help. The weather’s too uncertain to send a plane, so he hitches a ride aboard Kayna’s ship and brings his mutant culture colonies along.
Attraction sparks, hot and powerful, between Brynn and Kayna, but her disclosure about her magic is a tough nut to crack. It doesn’t help that her dead father is stalking her. Lethal cultures, bizarre illness, and McMurdo’s refusal to let them land force Brynn and Kayna into an uneasy alliance. Will their fragile bond be enough to thwart the powers trying to destroy Earth, and them along with it?
The Witch Chronicles
Release Date: 11/7/14
Available for pre-order mid-October
Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance
Jenna falls in love with two very different men. Standing on the verge of Earth’s destruction, will she defy convention and follow the song in her heart?
Jenna’s a special witch, sort of, when her magic works, which it often doesn’t. One of three remaining demon-stalkers, she and her sister witches, Roz and Colleen, are Earth’s only hedge against being overrun by Hell’s minions. On the heels of Roz’s and Colleen’s weddings, Jenna is headed for the U.K. when a demon confronts her. Any other witch could teleport out of the plane, but not her. Frustration about her limited power eats at her. It would be pretty pathetic to get killed for lack of skills a teenager could master.
Tristan is a Sidhe warrior, but his primary gift is attunement to others’ emotions. He fell hard for Jenna, but hasn’t had an opportunity to act on their attraction beyond a few kisses because she returned to Alaska, and he’s been in the field fighting demons.
As seer for the Sidhe, Kiernan is haunted by visions, particularly an apocalyptic sending that seems to be coming true. A confirmed bachelor, he doesn’t understand his attraction to Jenna, but it’s so strong he can’t fight it, and after a while, he doesn’t even try, despite recognizing Tristan’s claim to her.
Startling truths surface about Jenna’s magic, and then there’s the problem that she’s falling in love with two very different men. At first she believes she has to pick one of them, but her spirit refuses to walk away from either. It’s impossible to choose between a seer with dreams in his eyes and a beautiful man who intuits her every need. Standing on the verge of Earth’s destruction, will she defy convention and follow the song in her heart?
About the Author:
Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.
Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.
In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)