The Big Thrill Discusses RAVEN’S GRAVE With Charlotte Stuart
A young boy dies during a midnight ceremony. A fish buyer and $75,000 goes missing. And a runaway becomes the object of an Alaskan wilderness search.
It is 1979 in a small native village in Alaska accessible only by boat. The local Tlingits continue to honor many traditions of the past, although increased contact with the outside world is accelerating a cultural shift. Caught in a slipstream of time, the village has become a curious blend of old and new.
When a young boy dies from a potion that was supposed to cure his limp, all the evidence points to the teenage shaman as the killer. It is up to Jonah St. Clair, the only police officer in the village, to solve the murder and, at the same time, find the missing fish buyer. To do so, he must use both his police skills and his knowledge of the local culture.
During his investigation, Jonah becomes prey and predator in a nighttime chase through the Alaskan wilderness and barely survives a rugged boat trip in dangerous waters. In the end, he not only apprehends a killer but discovers the bittersweet secret of the Raven’s Grave
Charlotte Stuart recently spent time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest mystery, RAVEN’S GRAVE.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
I find the Alaskan wilderness lifestyle and Tlingit culture fascinating. I reveled in the stories locals shared with me and valued the special moments spent on the water fishing for salmon. The art, language, myths—all appealed to my sense of spiritual connection with nature. So writing a story set in this context was one I enjoyed immensely and an experience I wanted to share with others.
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
I commercial fished out of a Native Alaskan village for nine seasons and was captivated by the push and pull of cultural change as the village became more connected with the rest of the world through improved transportation and technology.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Rather than books, movies or songs, there were special remembered “moments” from my time in Alaska that inspired me. And the complete absence of sound when away from city noise.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
I would have preferred to make the protagonist a Tlingit, but since I’m not a tribal member, I chose to place a non-native in a native village so I could have him reflect on their culture from an insider/outsider perspective. Which is the way I experienced village life.
In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?
An appreciation for the Tlingit culture and for traditions generally. Also, I wanted to give readers a glimpse into what it’s like to experience the beauty and danger of the vast expanse of Alaskan wilderness.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
Hopefully in the not too distant future there will be a mystery titled Raven’s Legacy. It would be the 2nd in a “Raven” series.
Before Charlotte Stuart PhD started writing full time, she left a tenured faculty position to go commercial fishing in Alaska, spent a year sailing in the Washington and Canadian San Juans, was a partner in a management consulting group and a VP of HR and Training.
Her current passion is for writing character-driven mysteries with twisty plots that include diverse topics such as friendship and betrayal, hidden treasure, chimeras, commercial fishing, phobias, and survival groups. She has published nine mysteries since 2019 and recently received a 1st Place Series Award in the Chanticleer International Mystery & Mayhem competition for her Discount Detective Mysteries. She has won or been recognized in a number of contests, including making finals in Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, Reader Views, and the Eric Hoffer Awards.
Charlotte lives and writes on Vashon Island in the Pacific Northwest and is the past president of the Puget Sound Sisters in Crime and a member of the Mystery Writers of America.
To learn more about the author, please visit her website.
RAVEN’S GRAVE With Charlotte Stuart