After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Back Where The Entire Adventure Began
“As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn’t possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, “Empty,” they weren’t kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn’t worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn’t the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
“Exactly,” the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying ‘I-told-you-so’ kind of voices. “What do you do now?”
“First, I am going to stay calm,” I replied. “And think this through.”
“You’d better think fast,” the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. “If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is. Don’t forget that you’re almost out of fuel.”
“Thanks a lot,” I replied. “You’re a big help.”
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. “This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over.”
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I’d had, the friends I’d made, the beauty I’d experienced, the differences and similarities I’d discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, “my epic flight almost around the entire world,” in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.
“Okay,” I thought to myself. “Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through.” I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I’d ever flown. Every emergency I’d ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.
Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
“It’s been a good run at least,” the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. “You’ve had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime.”
“That’s it!” I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began. ”
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it?
The thing that most inspired me and drove me to write this first book of the Kitty Hawk series was the lead character of Kitty Hawk herself. I spent many weeks lying awake at night imagining her adventures all around the world and thinking how great it would be if somewhere out there in the universe there was actually a book series that set those adventures down in writing. Of course there wasn’t and that’s why I just couldn’t resist taking pen to paper and bringing those adventures alive myself.
3. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
Fortunately, thus far, I haven’t experienced too much of what I would call writer’s block. Of course there are times when I get a bit stuck and I am not sure how to get from where I am in the story to where I want to be, but in my experience this is usually the result of writing too much too fast. Like getting ahead of yourself in the act of writing before your mind and imagination has had time to figure out the upcoming details. In those cases it is usually just a simple matter of going to bed or taking a walk (or for the truly decadent – a massage) and everything seems to come back together again.
4. Your all time favorite book?
A tie between Contact by Carl Sagan and The Mosquito Coast by Paul Theroux.
5. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
About three months total, from writing the first words to the final edits and clicking on “publish”.
6. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Now that I am writing books and creating worlds I find myself much more prone to losing myself in the fantasy universes that I am working to create. They take on a life of their own that I find surprisingly real, somehow, and sometimes I have to remind myself that they are actually not real.
7. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
I suppose, like most people, I get discouraged from time to time and want to just throw in the towel, but I think at this point I might no longer have any choice but to continue writing the books in the Kitty Hawk series. I can’t just leave here lost out there in the world somewhere after bringing this universe of hers to life. Every time I have to take a break for a day or two from writing I can always imagine that she is out there somewhere, impatiently tapping her foot in some cafe somewhere, waiting to keep moving forward. Maybe in some sense it wasn’t just Kitty Hawk who set out on this journey but me right along with her. Of course for me it’s a lot less dangerous and arduous a trip, but exciting all the same.
8. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I am a firm believer in the fact that not everyone will like my books. People are different, after all. There will even be people who hate my books and that is okay too. I think you just have to accept this will happen, including bad reviews from people who never even read your book and who just don’t happen to like your use of a particular word.
9. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
This first book, Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the first book in a series of what will ultimately have thirteens books. I have just finished the fourth book in the series and what I can tell you is that our heroine, Kitty Hawk, continues on her epic flight around the world, finding adventure and mysteries to solve all along the way, and discovering the cultures and histories of various places in this big world of ours.
10. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
In addition to nine or ten more Kitty Hawk books in the future (for a total of thirteen) I am also currently working on a book about wizards that I hope will be released in the spring of 2014. And I know what you’re thinking… Another book about wizards? Yes, you’re right. Maybe this is the last thing this world needs, but I couldn’t resist.
11. What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
I suppose it was a complete lack of confidence or belief that anyone else out there would be interested in publishing the stories that I wanted to tell. I’ve always been a “do it myself” kind of person. I find that I am quite reliable when it comes to doing things for me whereas other people are much less so.
12. Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
I hire professional editors for editting and artists for cover art but the rest I do myself, formatting, ebook versions, etc. I find that process kind of rewarding somehow.
13. If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I often think about the first fifty or sixty pages of the first book in the series and wonder if I should go back and “fix them” somehow. I realise in retrospect that I became a much better writer after I wrote those pages and I finally found Kitty Hawk’s “voice”. But then I start to think about it some more and ask myself… What would I change? In fairness I could certainly streamline the first chapters of the book and “get to the point” much more efficiently, but something in me wants to go forward in life, find more adventures and write them down, and not dwell on the past. Not yet anyway. Maybe some day I’ll go back. Maybe that is the proper thing to do, the right thing to do, the conventional wisdom thing to do. But until then…?
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
I always wanted to be a musician. I mean, I already do write and record my own music, but what I always wanted was to be a “real” musician. IE Someone whose job it is to write and record music.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
A blank moleskin notebook so I could write my own adventures.
3. Name your favorite fruit.
Definitely bananas. Not only is it a sacred fruit in many cultures, it is also a very practical fruit in that it comes wrapped in its very own easy-to-open packaging.
4. Favorite season?
Call me crazy, but my favourite season has got to be winter. Coming from Canada, as I do, there’s nothing quite like the silence and calm of a frozen world at forty degrees below zero. I also tend to think that winter is the most practical of the seasons. There are no bugs around to annoy you. The air feels cleaner somehow. And of course, if you get cold you just put more clothes on – unlike summer when there is a limit to how many clothes you can take off if you happen to feel hot. (The limit varies by your surroundings, of course, but there’s only so far you can go, whereas in winter you can just keep layering the clothes on almost infinitely.)
5. How about fav time of 24 hours?
Four o’clock in the morning. Because of this I was pleasantly surprised to read in one of my favourite books (The Mosquito Coast) that the main character spoke of having “four o’clock in the morning courage”. It was actually a quote from Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant and probably they both meant it in a completely different way than I myself interpreted it, but it still stuck with me. That is the kind of courage I would aspire to have in life. The kind where the world is on the verge of a brand new day, still dark and uncertain and who know’s what lies ahead, but courage all the same.
6. Favorite food for breakfast?
Left over pizza from the night before, preferably ham and pineapple. There can’t be anything better than that.
7. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
I’ve probably waffled my way through a dozen different answers to this in my life… From black to purple to green… But maybe my all-time favourite is azure. I just like that word a lot and I love the images it carries with it.
8. Have a fav quote or personal motto?
I have a lot of quotes and words of wisdom that I like, but one of my favourites is the one that is sewn on the inside label of my travelling vest: “Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Goethe
About the Author & Links:
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is currently working on the fourth book in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, which will be released in 2014. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.