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One of these days I’d love to travel to Alaska. I’ve seen amazing pictures and heard wonderful stories! That trip may not be possible right now, but an Alaskan story might be! 😉 Today we have the privilege of meeting Bonnie Leon, whose novel In the Land of White Nights is set in Alaska. Before we begin our visit, here’s a quick look at the story.
The lure of the nineteenth-century gold rush calls to Erik, a civil-war veteran. He and Anna, his Aleutian bride, set sail for a new life together in Sitka.
Anna stands strong against the adversities of the new land with its unfamiliar culture and fearsome challenges. She fights the prejudice of others, while growing her newfound faith in the white man’s God.
When forced to move farther north and begin again, Anna refuses to give up, allowing nothing to stand in the way of her family’s happiness. They discover joy as well as heartache in the Alaskan wilderness. But will Erik’s love of gold put all they’ve worked so hard for in jeopardy?
Welcome, Bonnie! Let’s start with five fast favorites.
Too fun. Here goes.
Favorite Color: Toss Up—Spring Green/Lavender
Favorite Season: Fall
Favorite Animal: Horse
Favorite Movie: Anna and the King
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Tin Roof Sundae (sadly they quit making it)
Maybe one day they’ll make a throwback ice cream! I’m surprised they stopped making that one. It was good! Let’s talk about In the Land of White Nights. What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
It began with my ancestors. My mother is an Alaska Native—Aleut. She grew up in Alaska and throughout my life she shared stories of her childhood and her ancestors. One story especially stood out. When my grandmother was a young woman she lived in Unalaska. One day as she stood on a bluff overlooking the beach a tsunami hit the shore below her. Out of that piece of my family history came the story The Journey of Eleven Moons. I had a great time telling about how Anna and her sister Iya survived the tsunami and were then forced to trust an outsider to help them.
Book one tells the story of their first eleven months together, but that was just the beginning. There was so much more to their story. And so I had to write the rest of it. What followed was In the Land of White Nights, the continuing story of their new life in the white man’s world.
Oh wow! How fun to be able to take a family event like that and develop a story around it! Do you have a favorite character from this story? Why is this character your favorite?
This is a difficult question. I love all the characters, except for the bad guys whom I love to hate. If I must choose one favorite it has to be Anna. She is the one who dug deep for strength to keep herself and her sister, Iya, alive after the tsunami destroyed their village. And then she found the courage to trust an outsider and set out in search of a new life in a new land. She is bold and strong and fights to hang onto who she is in the midst of a maelstrom of change.
I imagine we often admire those strong characters — perhaps because we hope if we were to face tough things like that, we might be able to do the same… Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
Cora, hands down. She runs a boarding house in Sitka and is a good friend to Erik, Anna, and Iya. She holds a special place in my heart. I developed her from a personal long-ago friend. I will do my best to include her in book three.
We all need good friends like that! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Forgiveness is a strong theme running through this story. The need to forgive and the struggle against it is common to mankind, and one I’m familiar with.
The natural catalyst for this is the prejudice against the natives during that time in Alaskan history. I have not personally experienced this kind of prejudice, but my mother grew up feeling as if she were worth less than others because she was native. While sharing her story with me she sometimes cried because it still hurt many years later.
What a neat opportunity to share her perspective with others, though, and hopefully help readers become more sensitive to those around them! If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you most like to go?
Scotland. I have roots, on my father’s side, to the Campbell clan. I’d love to spend time in a Bed & Breakfast along the shore of the Loch Ness.
That would be fun! Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us today, Bonnie!
Your turn! Do you have a special friend in your life? What do you appreciate most about this friend?
More about Bonnie:
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, and even Africa.
She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
You can connect with Bonnie online:
Also by Bonnie:
A successful walrus hunt means Anna and her beloved Kinauquak will soon be joined in marriage. But before they can seal their promise to one another, a tsunami wipes their village from the rugged shore … everyone except Anna and her little sister, Iya, who are left alone to face the Alaskan wilderness. A stranger, a Civil War veteran with golden hair and blue eyes, wanders the untamed Aleutian Islands. He offers help, but can Anna trust him or his God? And if she doesn’t, how will she and Iya survive?
‘In the Land of White Nights’ Giveaway:
Bonnie has generously offered to give away a paperback or e-copy (winner’s choice) of In the Land of White Nights. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy. If you are unfamiliar with Rafflecopter or have trouble entering, you can find help here: How to Enter a Rafflecopter Giveaway.