IMMINENT DANGER by Katherine Prairie
Imminent danger. We sense it when the sky fills with dark clouds and the wind picks up. We feel it in the pit of our stomach when our tires screech against the pavement. As a thriller writer, I set out to write a story that makes my readers feel that sense of imminent danger from the first page to the last. And I’m not one to start slow!
The fire in THIRST; the daring plan in BLUE FIRE; my novels open with deadly situations that push Alex Graham to the edge. It’s a strategy that leaves little time to convince readers to come along for the ride with my intrepid geologist, and so these first pages are often the ones that are the hardest to write. It also sets a high bar for the rest of the story, because like ominous black clouds, those opening scenes warn of a coming storm, a big one!
But Alex isn’t alone. Caught up in the swirl of danger that surrounds her in BLUE FIRE are Tanzanian miner, Mosi Ongeti, and Jorge Silva, the Brazilian ex-cop responsible for the Novoteras mine. Each faces his own challenge, and so too does the man they all come to fear: Shen Li. Their lives are interwoven in BLUE FIRE; they are part of the gathering storm.
I want my readers to experience the story with these characters, to feel their anxiety and fear. For that reason, I choose to write multiple points-of-view, allowing readers to live the action alongside key characters. It adds a challenging dimension to my work, because as I write, I must slip into these characters and see the story through their eyes. Every one of them has a detailed backstory that creates a real person for me: I can picture they way they move, hear how they speak and predict their behaviour. And some of these characters get under my skin.
It took months of research to tackle the Brazilian, Chinese and Tanzanian characters in BLUE FIRE. I immersed myself in the Chinese culture especially, using my own personal experiences and the guidance of Chinese professionals to create Shen Li. For that reason, he is one of the most complex and satisfying characters I’ve written so far. And I’ve learned how this deadly villain thinks and acts. Slipping into this character proved to be an unnerving start to more than one writing day!
It was less jarring to shift into the characters of Mosi Ongeti and Jorge Silva, but no less challenging. Like Shen Li, the behaviour of these men from Tanzania and Brazil is influenced by their cultural backgrounds, and neither man is a native-English speaker. It means that everything from the way they speak, to their interaction with family and co-workers, has to carefully considered.
I’m already hard at work on the next book in the Alex Graham series, and while some characters will return, a new slate of characters are emerging. Slowly over the coming months, each of these people will develop personalities, and I will come to understand them.
I’m learning more about Alex, too. Although she began as a compilation of some of the most interesting geologists I’ve been privileged to know, she’s now taken on a life of her own. Her history with her father; her past relationships; her willingness to take risks; her need to succeed; they all influence her decisions and reactions. I now find myself asking “what would Alex do here?” rather than directing her through a scene. The same is true for returning characters Dr. Eric Keenan, and RCMP constable Nate Taylor. Both of these men have grown into complex people since their first appearance in THIRST.
There are more stories for Alex down the road. Ideas that I can’t let go of, will turn into intriguing new challenges for my geologist.
And Alex Graham is ready for the storm.
Katherine Prairie brings her own experience as an international geologist to the Alex Graham thriller series. Her debut novel THIRST was shortlisted for the 2017 Whistler Independent Book Awards. She served as the founding president of Sisters in Crime - Canada West, and she is a 2018-19 Crime Writers of Canada director.
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Publish date: July 26, 2018
Publisher: Stonedrift Press Ltd.
A daring act reveals an incredible secret deep in a Brazilian mine, and catapults geologist Alex Graham into the world of a powerful arms dealer. She heads to Tanzania, to her father whose cryptic message started her quest. But her enemy is closing in.
Tanzanite, a rare blue gem born in fire and revealed by lightning, is found only in the Merelani Hills of Tanzania. But now the death of a gem smuggler points to another possibility. A South American mine owned by Tabitha Metals may hold the find of a century. But why is it kept hidden from the world? Geologist Brian Graham can draw only one conclusion: the mine’s untraceable wealth is used to fund terrorism. And he must reveal the truth.
Brian heads to Colombia to check out mines there while his geologist daughter Alex and Tanzanian miner Mosi Ongeti start in Brazil. But their daring plan ends with a gunshot, and they are now pursued by the henchmen of a sinister, powerful arms dealer.
In a high-stakes race across two continents, Alex fights to expose the mine before the man behind Tabitha Metals can stop her.