Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on the
My Last Continent Blog Tour
Please welcome the author
Hi Midge, tell us a little
How long have you been writing and what got you started?
I’ve been writing since I was a young girl, though as I got older I switched from making up stories to telling real ones. I published my first article in a local newspaper when I was fifteen years old and continued in journalism until my mid-twenties, when I returned to making up stories. I published my first short story in 1999; my first book, a short story collection, Forgetting English, in 2009; and my first novel, My Last Continent, this year.
Where did you get your inspiration for the story from – were you inspired by people, places or did you draw purely from your imagination?
As with most of my stories, My Last Continent was inspired by a specific moment, and it grew from there. The novel began as a short story that came to me when I was on an expedition in Antarctica and saw a passenger fall on the ice near a penguin colony. He was fine, fortunately, but seeing this happen reinforced the notion that, at the bottom of the world, you are at the mercy of the conditions and of the few people who are with you. This idea stuck with me and, combined with the concern of our shipboard naturalists about the larger cruise ships that visit the region, inspired me to write the novel, which tells the bigger story of what would happen if a cruise liner were to sink in the Southern Ocean, where conditions are unpredictable and rescuers can be several days away.
Your writing is very atmospheric – how do you ‘set the scene’ in your novels and how much research did you need to do in order to bring the story to life?
I love to travel and see new places, whether a new neighborhood or a new country. Often there’s something specific about a place that makes me want to write about it, whether it’s the otherworldly landscape of Antarctica or a wildly bright and noisy street in Tokyo. I find that people are very much a part of their environments, so for me exploring place is similar to exploring character. I love it when my research can be firsthand — the details are so much easier for me to convey this way — but if I can’t visit, or can’t return to a place I’ve seen, I use my photos, memories, and also read as much as I can to get a deeper understanding of a place.
What do you consider to be your strongest points as a writer?
I love revision. Many writers dislike this part of the process, so I consider myself lucky to enjoy it! I’m at my best when I have a lot to work with on the page, and bringing what’s there to the next level is the most fun and rewarding part of the process for me.
In what skill (as a writer) would you most like to improve?
I would like to enjoy the blank page a bit more. This is my least favorite part of a writing project, how to begin with nothing but an idea. I’d love to be able to organize my thoughts better from the beginning.
And finally - how can readers find out more about you and your writing?
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.
And here are my thoughts about My Last Continent..
The glacier, cold waters of Antarctica are home to creatures who survive in bone biting cold. However, their isolation and remoteness does not render them safe from the elements, but rather puts them at the mercy of nature which is so often unpredictable and cruel. The inhospitable surroundings are not a natural environment for humans and yet, researcher, Deb Gardner feels perfectly at home at the edge of the world, where amongst her beloved Adélie Penguins, she has learned to cope with solitude. That is until she meets Keller Sullivan and falls in love…
Cleverly told in a series of
flashbacks, the story moves forwards and backwards in time, which helps to give
a clear understanding of both Deb and Keller as individuals, whilst at the same
time allows the author to draw you into an isolated, frozen world. A world
which is so believable, that you can, quite literally, feel the bone biting
cold, and see the penguin colonies in your imagination, and before long you
begin to worry about Deb and Keller and all the other people who exist in this
inhospitable part of the world..
The writing is wonderfully lyrical with an otherworldly dreaminess to
it, which is rather difficult to describe without giving anything away, and I
don’t want to spoil anything. However, what I will say is that My Last
Continent is one of the most emotionally affecting novels I have read in a long
time. It’s so visually descriptive that, even though I will never, in my
wildest dreams, travel to Antarctica, I now feel that I have just survived a
journey where I stepped ashore on Petermann Island, slept on a bunk at McMurdo
Station, experienced fifteen foot sea swells aboard the M/S Cormorant and listened
in gentle awe to the purrs and squawks of groups of penguins.
the story feels so beautifully realistic that it’s almost like being immersed
in a travelogue, with the added benefit of making an emotional connection to
both the characters and the scenery. I am sure like me, you will read through
to the end with a real sense of affinity, to the people, the landscape and
more importantly to the penguins, especially Admiral Byrd.
My Last Continent
is a very different love story, it’s honest, believable
and so beautifully written that it will break your heart into a million pieces.
Best Read With..Southern fried tofu with crinkly fries and a bottle of ice cold beer
About the Author
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.
Huge thanks to the author for answering my questions so thoughtfully and for spending time with us today and also to Alice at FMcM Associates for my invitation to be part of this Blog Tour.
Blog Tour runs between 21st July- 27th July 2016
Do visit the other stops for more interesting content about
My Last Continent