Mystery We Write Blog Tour: Beth Anderson's Inspiration for Writing RAVEN TALKS BACK


Almost immediately after I retired early from my 23-year position in accounting and finance, I happened to receive an unexpected invitation to work on a six-week contract with a company in Valdez, Alaska, which is at the end of the Alaska Pipeline. I would be doing some of the same work I had done over a period of years while taking care of my former company's fixedsset system. I thought, what a wonderful opportunity to see Alaska, not to mention the salary they offered, which was more three times what I had been making here.

Off I went on this great adventure, thinking maybe, just maybe,I might also find something I wanted to write about, but not really counting on it because I knew I'd be working five, six days a week in an office there. Not much time left over for finding inspiration for a seventh novel. Not in a small town like that, surely, with only a little over 4,500 inhabitants.

On my first day there before I started working, I stood in the back yard watching fog roll down the Chugach Mountains that surround Valdez on three sides. The fourth side is Prince William Sound. That in itself was a
stunning sight, with glaciers in the backdrop, because I had always thought fog rises, not falls. However, it was falling there, great, puffy gray clouds of it, rolling down the mountainside and then on over Prince William
Sound, where it dissapeared over the water. I was completely enchanted.

I know you're going to think I'm going all dramatic on you, but the truth is, while I was watching that fog, I suddenly heard a voice inside my head speaking low, but still loud enough that I could hear her saying, "The
spirits of my ancestors live in that fog. I know they are there." That voice was Raven's, and I knew right then that I was going to tell her story. I couldn't not tell it, although I had no idea what all would come of that
soft message.

I was actually there from July to September, and as I had suspected, I was working long hours, very mentally tiring work because I was catching up work in a system that hadn't been done in almost two years AND nobody there knew how to work with it, which was why I was asked to come. I went happily, because I had a car to pay off and I knew I'd be able to do it in full when I got home. So in addition to catching the work up, I had to teach myself a very, to me, archaic computer system. I decided right then and there, while
I was learning at the same time I was working with it, that I would also write a book of instructions on how to use it for whomever took over after I left, which I did.

But I still had time occasionally to watch the otters play in the Sound, and look around the town, take one boat trip out on the Sound where I saw my first icebergs, and eventually take a two-day trip to Denali National Park. I still had time to observe that nice little town and some of its inhabitants, and from time to time, talk with a very sweet Athabascan woman who lived in town, which was not common. I say I observed some inhabitants because I never, except for one time, saw more than a few locals together at any one time.

In addition to the fog, then, and being so surprised that in the summertime Valdez is full of flowers and real beauty visible everywhere, I was also getting the feeling that there was a lot of mystery there,
although I had no idea what it was. It was just a feeling I had, that there were undercurrents, but what were they?

I think that's when the mystery writer inside of me really began to kick in. But too soon it was time to leave, and regretfully, I did. But the haunting ambiance of Valdez and that fog stayed with me. Then my real work began, because I hadn't really brought much home with me except what was forever roiling around in my mind. The fog. The people. The mystery. What really caused what I was feeling there that hasn't left me to this day. What was the mystery? I didn't know, so I made up my own.

It all comes out in my book, Raven Talks Back. I hope if you read it you'll let me know what you think of it because it truly was the book of my heart, which is still there, watching the fog roll down the mountainsides of the timeless, beautiful Chugach Mountains.

Beth Anderson is a multi-published, award winning author in several genres including romance and mainstream crime fiction. A full time author, she lives in a Chicago, Illinois suburb. She has appeared on Chicago's WGN Morning Show, The ABC Evening News, as well as numerous other radio and cable television shows. She has guest lectured at Purdue University and many libraries and writers' conferences. She loves music, particularly jazz. Her website and blog are at .

Coming: May 2011 from Krill Publishing: RAVEN TALKS BACK,book #1 in the Raven Morressey series

Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthychildren, and it's finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez, Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her backyard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resembletattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.

Raven's eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words hesuddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.

Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.

Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control.

Face book
Coming: May 2011 from Krill Publishing: RAVEN TALKS BACK,
book #1 in the Raven Morressey series
Raven Talks Back Kindle page.
ISBN#: 9780982144398

Thank you for visiting me today, Beth, and what an interesting story both behind the inspiration and the book that came from it.



Jean Henry Mead said…
What a great adventure, Beth! The Raven Talks Back is next on my to-read list. I've been to Fairbanks and there definitely is something mysterious in the Alaskan air. I think I'll take Logan & Cafferty there some day. :)
Anonymous said…
I expect it's pretty much the same most everywhere in Alaska except for Anchorage, which is a gorgeous, large, cosmopolitan city. It's probably the ambiance of a very, very ancient culture that you find everywhere else there. What struck me the most was that the people there rarely keep in touch with the lower forty-eight. It's as if they're a country completely separate; they have no real idea what's going on down here, and they don't really want to know. Beautiful place. I'd go back there today if I could.
I am really having problems with blogger this a.m. Hopefully things will calm down later.

Anne K. Albert said…
Love the image of the voice in the fog, Beth!

Thanks to you and Marilyn for a great post.
Jackie King said…
What an exciting experience for you, Beth. I think I need to push RAVEN TALKS BACK to the top of my TBR pile. I'm heading for Austin on Thursday to spend time with my darling daughter-in-law. She's a huge reader, too, so we'll probably spend some of our time reading together.
4RV Publishing said…
I was able to visit Alaska a few years ago. My son was stationed there, and he and his wife flew us up. The time we spent was too short, but probably too long for them. *laugh*

If God wills, I'll go back in September 2012 to speak at a writing conference. I know it will be a fast and furious trip with little chance of seeing anything, but I'll see the mountains through the clouds from the plane.

I enjoyed your story, Beth, of how you were inspired. Thanks for sharing Beth's story with us, Marilyn.

Thank you so much everyone for posting. I loved Anchorage, Wasilla, Bethel and the tiny village of Kwithlik when I visited. Wasilla reminded me of Visalia CA except for the weather and the mountains being so much closer.
Anonymous said…
Thank you all for commenting, folks. The voice in the fog was so real, it's no wonder a story came from it. It was a fun book to write.
Sharon Ervin said…
Eerily exciting, this Alaska visit. Thank you for taking us along and for sharing the aura.
I'm leaving Beth's blog up for another day says it got messed up for the morning yesterday.


Popular posts from this blog

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston


The Power of Identity by Donna Urbikas