Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Adventures in Labrador (1)

As promised, serialized into bite-sized chunks, my summer adventure in Labrador, 1997... This is as I remember it, but I don’t have any notes so it’s possible other people have other versions. This is mine and I’m sticking to it. 
You might know that the migration study that Cameran Young undertakes in Edge of Survival is actually based on a study I did when I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.
I thought you might be curious as to what events actually took place and what I made up. Trust me, none of the romance stuff happened—I’d just got engaged and wore my emerald with pride.
But I’m not saying I didn’t have offers... :)
My misadventures started before I even arrived at my destination. After several flights I spent the night in Happy Valley—Goose Bay, and mosquitoes feasted on my feet, which shouldn’t be a problem except I was allergic and swelled up so badly I couldn’t get my boots on. Picture me hobbling through the airport, carrying my shoes as I head deep into the Canadian bush. 
Side note: I actually made the trip several times that summer and my favourite time was when we took the floatplane. That was so cool. Cam’s description at the start of the book is spot on. The fuselage stinks of avgas and seats are ripped out to accommodate luggage. There are no facilities. AT ALL. For a woman who needs to pee as often as I need to pee, this was a problem. It’s also the reason DH thinks I’d be no good in the AMAZING RACE. I beg to differ, but that’s the joy of marriage—we get to agree to disagree.  Anyway, I crossed my legs and thought of England. A few hours later, when we landed I was amused to see the windscreen wipers beating like fury across the glass. I’d never thought of that, never imagined they’d need wipers to see through the spray.
We landed in Nain and then got a helicopter ride to the bay where the Sir John Franklin (now a renamed, fully dedicated arctic research vessel but then was just being leased by the consulting company), was moored in a secluded, sheltered bay. Frenchmans Bight is completely fictional—really, I made it up. There was a bigger mining camp beyond Nain but I only went there once and it was a freaky experience. I do not turn heads. I’m not drop-dead gorgeous. I’m totally fine with who and what I am and how I look. However, I stepped into the canteen with a couple of my smelly fishy buddies and I could feel the male eyes on me every step of the way. It was like I suddenly had an X on my back and it was a XX—as in FEMALE! J I have never been so self conscious in my life and I’ve worked in plenty of male dominated environments. I like men. Some of my best friends are men, hell, I even married one. But this was different. It was like being the star in a porn flick and they were just waiting for me to take off my clothes.

When I arrived I got to share a cabin with a really nice girl, a redhead. Although the numbers changed slightly over the summer there was a maximum of maybe 4 women onboard at any one time (none of the porn-flick feeling I had in the camp, mind). We’d get up about 5 and grab a fantastic breakfast and packed lunch (I loved the chef) and we’d head up to the lounge to wait for when we’d get helicoptered to our sampling site for the day. 
Side note: I thought I was oh so popular with the pilots. Generally someone would ask who the pilots wanted to take and they’d almost always say, “I’ll take Toni and...” I used to glow because I’d never been so popular before. After a short time I figured it out. Helicopter pilots are constantly trying to keep the weight down and, standing at a rugged 5’1”, they figured I was one of the lightest loads (in terms of people) :) Also one of the women (not on my team) weighed about 300 lbs, and it’s hard to get a good visual past someone that big. Anyway, I blocked it out. They liked me. I was popular LOL. 
We’d get ferried out to our site every morning, catch fish, tag fish, take a few samples and release fish. My expertise was the surgical implantation of telemetry devices but it doesn’t mean I can catch the suckers. Thankfully I had a couple of brilliant fishermen with me. Rick, especially, was fantastic.
That's the end of the first installment. I'll post the next one next week. 
The Labrador Inuit called this place Nunatsiavut: Our beautiful land. You can see why.

My heroine has diabetes and I'm donating 15% of my royalties to diabetes research.

Available for pre-order from Carina Press, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Barnes & Noble

Read an excerpt here


  1. Great first installment!

  2. Doris, my life isn't as exciting as my writing LOL. I just thought it might be fun :)

  3. I think it's awesome! Not many people get to have that type of adventure! AND WOOHOOO you were the first kid picked for gym class! LOL

    I just was not able to express all that when I read it. I had just woke up and the brain was not on LOL

  4. I didn't mean to make you feel bad, Doris, LOL. I totally understand wake up brain.
    I know about gym class, huh? My daughter is there now. Poor love. I rocked field hockey. I pretty much sucked at everything else though :)

  5. Oh you didn't make me feel bad LOL I felt bad all on my own! I had thoughts swirling around inside my head I just could not make them in to something that was coherent LOL