1. Are you an outdoors person or more of an armchair trekker?
My ideal day would begin with a long hike in the mountains to pick blueberries or, if there's snow on the ground, multiple sledding runs down our driveway/sledding hill with my husband and two daughters and our neighborhood friends. Then, once I'm thoroughly worn out, I would come indoors, pour a glass of wine and curl up in our old recliner by the woodstove to spend a few hours reading a really great book. So the answer: both.
2. Were you shocked or surprised by anything in the research you did for this novel?
That was the initial spark for writing the novel -- my surprise at the true-life 1885 report of an expedition up the Copper River. Early Russian explorers had violent encounters with indigenous tribes in Alaska. Three military men traveled into country where no white people had ever stepped before, even though it was already 1885. They survived on little more than flour and snowshoe hares for weeks traveling through snow and slush. At one point they were so near starvation, they ate the maggoty, rotten remains of a moose that a pack of wolves had killed. But my surprise continued as I broadened my research. There were wives of early polar explorers who accompanied their husbands on portions of their journey. Cordelia Stanwood was one of the earliest nature photographers, and her innovations and contributions were numerous, although often overlooked. My list of unexpected discoveries goes on and on, and made my research a lot of fun.
3. What do you like and hate about book tours?
Like most people, I hate the torture of travel itself -- cramped airplane seats, the confusing indignities of security lines, the hectic bewilderment of trying to find my way in unfamiliar places, sleeping in different hotel rooms every night and waking up in the dark with no idea where I am. No home-cooked meals. No golden retrievers to greet me at the end of the day. Most of all, I hate being away from my home, my family, and the cold, clear air of Alaska.
What I love about book tours is the people -- no matter where I go, how far away from Alaska I travel, I always feel at home among booksellers and readers. They're my people. And I always walk away with a new list of books that I must read.
4. Please name a favorite book from three periods in your life: childhood, teenage years, and adulthood.
Childhood: Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Teenage years: probably more like middle-school age, but A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
Adulthood: Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
5. What do you think of when you hear the word Hoboken?
It's terrible, but I honestly didn't know anything about Hoboken until the recent train crash. But if I take the word entirely out of context, it makes me think of a village or cozy den in Tolkien's Shire.