She loves to write about remote locations, and living in North America, Europe, Asia and the Caribbean fired up her imagination, but it was after she moved to a small resort town that the transient community, consisting of people from all over the world, inspired her to write about the day-to-day drama of living in an isolated mountain resort.
In July 2015, Stanley published Descent, introducing readers to Kalin Thompson, a big-city woman who moves to Stone Mountain Resort hoping a drastic change to her life will help her recover from the death of her husband. She gets more change than she expected. Kalin arrives as the human resources manager and after only months on the job she’s thrown into the role of security director.
BLAZE is the second book in this series.
Tell us about BLAZE
BLAZE is a tale of arson and revenge.
Just when Kalin Thompson thinks her life makes sense again, she finds herself preparing her home for evacuation. She should be at the altar getting married. Instead, flames creep close to her house, her fiancé is fighting the fire, her dog disappears in the forest, and the one road to safety is blocked. What more could go wrong?
The Stone Mountain series takes place in a ski resort located in the depths of the Purcell Mountains. Descent, the first in the series, follows Kalin Thompson as she grows accustomed to small-town living while searching for the killer of an up-and-coming Olympic caliber skier.
What inspired you to write BLAZE?
Every year, forest fires are a big concern in my neighborhood. The cost in lives, both human and wildlife, and in property is incalculable. The idea for BLAZE evolved from a frightening night I spent while working at a ski resort.
It was after midnight when my phone rang. One of the security officers, a 22-year-old and senior guard on duty, reported a large fire in a row of condos at the resort. The president of the resort was out of town, the fire chief along with his senior officers were at a conference in the next valley over—an eight-hour drive away. I was the director on call.
Lucky for me, I had visitors. A Calgary firefighter and his wife were asleep in our spare bedroom. A quick knock to wake him up, and he was on his way to the fire hall. I followed to help in any way I could. I organized rooms for displaced guests, managed crowds, got food and water for the firefighters, and called for RCMP and ambulance support.
During the fire, I watched my firefighter friends battle the blaze. By posture alone, I could identify who was in the building. Two hours into the fire the floors collapsed. By morning, 12 units were gone but 50 more were saved.
So I started thinking…What if a fire was set on purpose? Who was the target? And the story for BLAZE formed.
With a special place in my heart, BLAZE is a tribute to my friends who risk their lives as firefighters.
What about your setting, Stone Mountain, B.C., do you find most alluring? And why did you choose a fictitious location?
My passion is living in out-of-the way places. I spent nine years living aboard two different sailboats, four years living in Unteruhldingen – yup that’s right – Germany, where finding an English book was impossible. If only eBooks had been invented back then. After that, I spent six years living in an isolated ski resort in the Purcell Mountains of B.C., Canada. When I moved away, I missed the wilderness most, and writing was a way for me to keep the mountains with me every day. I chose a fictitious place so I wouldn’t be limited by location. I had a series of stories I wanted to tell, and I wanted my imagination to be unrestricted.
Since you lived and worked at a resort, what additional research did you have to do for BLAZE?
The intense research was about fires. Small details, such as learning the difference between the gear worn for a structural fire versus a forest fire, help bring the reader into the story. Asking firefighters what they think while inside a burning building gave me a new appreciation for the work.
I also had access to the mountain operations team. Even though I worked at the resort, I didn’t have experience with snowmaking, so I had a lot to learn about using snowmaking equipment to fight a fire.
Through my position as director of security, I built relationships with the RCMP officers in the area. One in particular was happy to answer questions about what he would or wouldn’t do in certain situations, what words he used, and how he might react. This knowledge went into building the character, Constable Miller.
What’s next for you?
I hope to have Avalanche and then Torrent published in 2016. These are the third and fourth in the Stone Mountain series. I’ve also completed a draft of Look the Other Way, a murder mystery that takes place aboard a sailboat in the Bahamas.
Kristina Stanley is the author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series. Her books have garnered the attention of prestigious crime writing organizations in Canada and England. Crime Writers of Canada nominated DESCENT for the 2014 Unhanged Arthur award. The Crime Writers’ Association nominated BLAZE for the 2014 Debut Dagger. Her short stories are published in the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Voices of the Valleys Anthology.
Before writing her series, Kristina was the director of security, human resources and guest services at a resort in the depths of the British Columbian mountains. The job and lifestyle captured her heart, and she decided to write mysteries about life in an isolated resort. While writing the first four novels, she spent five years living aboard a sailboat in the US and the Bahamas.
To learn more about Kristina, please visit her website.