age range: middle grade
setting: the Alaskan wilderness
“A page-turner full of white-knuckle action. . . . Readers will be riveted until the end.”
“[A] thoroughly engaging and incredibly suspenseful survival story. . . Well-crafted, moving and gripping.”
Please tell us about your book.
ICE DOGS is about 14-year-old Victoria Secord, a dogsled racer who loses her way in a blizzard on a training run near her home in Alaska. She rescues Chris, an annoying city boy, and together they must trust the dogs and each other in order to survive.
What inspired you to write this story?
I used to own eighteen Alaskan Huskies. My dog team and I shared many exciting adventures together out on the trail. But the thing I most wanted to share in my novel was the respect, trust, and partnership between a musher and her dogs. It’s a special bond that goes beyond owning a pet dog. Sled dogs have a job, they are relied upon and they know it. Watching them navigate thin ice or a tough trail with obstacles, you can see them thinking things through and working together. And they absolutely LOVE to run.
Mad frothing love. That kind of passion is inspiring and made me want to write about it.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
I didn’t have to research much since I’ve run dogs near Nenana, Alaska years ago, and of course, have known quite a few entertaining sled dogs whose characters come out in this story. But I did peel the bark off some birch and eat the cambium underneath, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds. And I forced my hubby to drink twig tea with me. Yum!
For interesting tidbits about dogsledding, readers can visit my website – I’ve listed a few things they might enjoy.
What are some special challenges associated with writing Middle Grade?
The challenge I’ve repeatedly encountered in my writing is which shelf the novel will go on. This may sound strange, but there is a grey area around books with main characters between 13 and 15. Is this story middle grade or young adult?
I enjoy writing about characters who are in this tween time of their life. They’re interesting and full of drama and hope and new ideas and firsts. It was a magical time in my own life as well. And the books I read at that age made a huge impact on me.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
There are an increasing number of classrooms who follow the major dogsled races. Some of them such as the Iditarod, the Pedigree Stage race, the Yukon Quest now have a great educational component. The “teacher on the trail” program usually includes a blog written by a teacher, which other teachers can follow with ideas and lesson plans. Here are just a few:
One copy of ICE DOGS is up for grabs! To enter, leave a comment below about something you learned from this interview. The contest closes Wednesday, 3/5.
Update: Congratulations to Sarah M, our winner.