Today I’m delighted to be featuring Canadian author Diane McGyver. Diane writes fantasy novels, and has recently started her Romance Collection, as she explains – not typical romance, but with themes of adventure, action, survival and awakenings that thread through her stories that take precedence over relationships.
Diane McGyver writes stories, some long, some short. Regardless of genre, each story contains a bit of adventure, romance, survival and humour. She loves writing stories with a fantastical theme, but her current release “Northern Survival” is all about surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash. She’s been writing a long time, and the journey has taught her to not squander words. Each new story is more concise with less clutter than the previous. McGyver: “Writing feeds my soul, fills my heart, keeps me wild and gives me freedom few other occupations can give. Why would I do anything else?”
Diana writes stories and articles and operates a publishing company based in mainland Nova Scotia. She’s written on many topics over the years, including genealogy, writing, publishing, gardening and history. Since 1997, a few thousand articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including Saltscapes Magazine, Plant and Garden Magazine, alive Magazine, East Coast Gardener and Canadian Gardening.
Olive Tweed planned her trip for two years. She’d vacation at Summer Beaver, gather the research material needed to write the next book and spend a few days hiking the vast wilderness. When she is called home unexpectedly and boards a chartered plane, she never dreamt it would crash, leaving her alone with a man who knew nothing about survival or the woods. If they don’t put aside their differences and work together, they’ll never escape alive.
Northern Survival was inspired by a video created by a pilot who recorded the crash of his small plane in Northern Quebec. The only reason he survived was because the plane had a parachute.
If you love stories of adventure, survival challenges and characters who test each others ability to endure, you’ll love Northern Survival.
Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2020
In Northern Survival (Quarter Castle Publishing 2020), two strangers–Olive, a writer researching an upcoming book and and Johnathan, a movie star–are returning to civilization aboard a small plane when a large bird slams into the windshield and crashes the plane. Everyone is killed except Olive and Johnathan and they are stranded in the middle of the frozen Canadian forests. Conventional wisdom says to stay with the plane but nearby hungry wolves convince them they must leave. They have little food, minimal shelter, and no weapons, and both think they know the right way to hike out of the desolate wilderness. That’s their first disagreement but by no means their last.
“I can do this.” “I know you can, but you can’t do it like I can because you’re a pampered city boy with no damn experience.” “Leave me alone [rephrased].”
Olive has some survival skills while Johnathan has none so she wins. Still, it is a daunting task that leaves them often weak, hungry, thirsty, cold, and frightened. As a reader, I’m left thinking it is only because of Olive’s brutal honesty that they even have a chance:
“I don’t expect you to do what I do, but I expect you to tell me your limits so we don’t exceed them and cause unnecessary injuries, which ultimately will slow us down or…”
A good read with lots of how-to information if you ever find yourself stranded in below-zero weather with nothing but trees around you.
Well, let’s get down to some Q and A now that we’ve gotten to know a bit about Diane and her books.
NB: I would just to like to add here that I have spent over 10 hours over various days trying to fix the format issues you will find below in the Q & A session. I know of many bloggers being forced the block editor on them. I’m self-hosted and have gone through as many WP nightmares fighting off the editor by adding various plugins. For this post there was no way it would double space where I wanted to in order to create whitespace. It was impossible, so I’d just like to apologize for the shoddy formating below, as I had to surrender. Sorry, and thank you.
Do events in your daily life inspire your writing ideas?
Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?
Do you find your writing is geared toward a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
rate. That means if I submitted 20 pitches a month, 18 were accepted by the magazine or newspaper. Editors knew what their readers wanted, and they saw that in my pitches. Other writers I knew didn’t do the research, and they often had more than half of their pitches rejected. In my experience, this advice doesn’t fit fiction. Where non-fiction comes from the brain, fiction comes from the heart.
Where do you believe your passion for storytelling originated from?
I think I learned to tell stories from sitting quietly and observing my family share their experiences in life. I am number 10 of 11 kids, my father was one of 17 kids, and my grandparents (except for Mom’s mom) were born in the 1880s. There were lots of stories told from many different perspectives. When the older members of the family started passing away, I felt the need to write down their stories to preserve them for the future, both for me to remember and to share with my kids. I was a natural with words, and I filled pages with stories about Newfoundland in the 1930s, shearing sheep, the Eastern Shore in the 1920s, pulpwood cutting, both world wars and how these families who lived far below the poverty line survived through out the centuries by hard work and perseverance.
Naturally, my imagination took some of these real stories, embellished them and created fictional stories. The rest is history.
D.G. – Life fills us with stories.
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
“Why doesn’t it shock me you have a paper map?” Johnathan pulled open a door on the belly of the plane and dragged out a suitcase.
“Their batteries don’t die.” Olive gave no thought to the last word until it passed over her lips.
“It won’t tell you anything you don’t already know.” He threw the suitcase to the ground and unzipped the lid.
“It tells me we are somewhere near Lake Miminska.”
He stomped over and through glasses still covered in debris from the crash stared at her finger.
“We made it farther than that.”
“No, we didn’t.”
“Says my measurement.”
“Your finger is hardly a measuring device.”
“Al said we had two and a half hours remaining of the three-hour flight.” She placed her finger on Thunder Bay. “If you break the trip into thirds—three hours—and then half hours, you have half of a third, putting us approximately right here.” She tapped the lake with the stick. “I saw a river after the parachute was released. That’s probably Albany River.”
“Approximates and probablies.” He pulled out his phone. “Useless even in the best situations.” Tapping the screen a few times, he held the phone flat and slowly twisted his body. When he found the information he sought, he took a screenshot, then knelt next to the map. “Where are the location numbers?”
“Longitude and latitude?”
He stared with a blank expression, then as if he understood what she said, he nodded. She pointed to where the degrees were recorded along the edges of the map, and he checked his phone. “51.56 degrees north; 88.81 degrees west.” He set down the phone, found the numbers with his fingers and followed them until they crossed. “We’re north of…” His voice slipped and when he next spoke, he sounded like a deflated balloon. “Albany River near Miminska Lake.” She swallowed slowly, allowing his acknowledgment to settle into his gut gently to save herself from another outburst. Glancing at the sun dipping towards the treetops, she calculated the remaining daylight: less than five hours. Her body wanted to rise, gather the supplies they had and get moving, but it remained still while he bandaged his pride.
“There’s nothing for miles. The nearest settlement is Fort Hope.” He winced. “Aptly named.” “It’d be a difficult trek. We’d have to go north, around Miminska Lake. I don’t know how wide these rivers feeding into the lake are. We might not be able to cross them, and once we did, we’d have to go farther north and skirt Eabamet Lake to reach Fort Hope.” Locking eyes with him sent a chill down her spine. “It’s a good idea,” she said quickly. “By map, it’s the closest place, but the terrain.” She pointed to Mishkeegogamang. “If we follow Albany River and go south, where temperatures will be better, we can reach this settlement; it’s late September and this far north, it might snow. It looks farther, but with no lake to navigate or major rivers to cross, it’s probably easier. Which means we’ll reach it faster.”
His cold eyes left her and fell to the map. He found the scale, broke a stick to the length of the 20-mile measurement and counted the number of times he used it between their location and her suggested destination. “That’s almost a hundred miles.” His eyes widened. “Fuck.” The muscles in his face twisted several times. “It’ll take days. It’s only 40 to Fort Hope.”
“We can’t go in a direct line to the fort.”
“So, 60 miles; it’s still a hell of a lot shorter.”
“North into the cold this time of year. To rivers we may not be able to cross.”
“It doesn’t make sense to travel twice the distance.”
“Given the circumstances, distance is irrelevant. Terrain is more important.”
“This map doesn’t tell you if there’s a mountain on your route. That would be tough to climb.”
“Exactly.” She lowered her brow. “There might be one on your route.”
“Useless map.” He rolled his eyes. “If you were smart, you’d have an APP that’d tell you the layout of the land.”
“A lot of good that would do without a signal.”
“Do you have such an APP?”
“So even if we had a signal, your phone is useless.”
“If I had a signal, I wouldn’t bother with a stupid APP; I’d call 911.” In spite of telling herself to be patient, her voice rose to an unnecessary level. “Technically, it’s the same distance; a hundred miles to Mishiegammie—or whatever they call it—and a hundred kilometres to Fort Hope,” she snapped sarcastically.
His face darkened. “How far is a fucking kilometer?”
“A thousand metres.”
“In miles,” he growled.
“Don’t you have an APP to figure that out?”
He stood and shoved his phone into his pocket. “We’re not going anywhere.” He went to his open suitcase and rifled through the contents. “I’m staying here. They’re searching for the plane, not us.”
“They won’t reach us before others do.” She folded the map, leaving the area they’d travel south exposed.
“Others? Who else is searching?”
“Every beast hoping for a free meal.”
His hands froze with a pair pants in them. “What do you mean?”
“Do you smell that?” Her eyes gestured towards the plane. “Those rotting birds will attract wildlife. Some will be small, harmless to us; others will eat us first and the geese for dessert.” “Geese?” His voice shook. “That’s what those birds are?”
“You’ve probably eaten goose. Some say it’s tasty. Coyotes, wolves, bears may also find themdelicious, and they’ll smell this miles away.”
“Fuck,” he mumbled under his breath. “I have to get out of these clothes first.” He glared at her. “Then we go to Fort Hope.”
“Good luck. I’ll let them know where to find you.” Sweat gathered on her palms at the thought of travelling alone. She couldn’t do it, but she dreaded following a fool who knew nothing about the woods.
“You’re not coming with me?”
“Why would I? You know nothing about survival, the north or the woods, and you’ve chosen the most difficult path.” She pulled out a change of clothes. “I’ll travel faster alone. I can easily hike three kilometres—that’s almost two miles—in rugged terrain in an hour. If I travel ten hours a day, I’ll be there in roughly five days.” She spotted her extra compass in her pack and picked up the orange metal tube. “Expect a helicopter to come looking for you after that.” She stood.
“Here.” She tossed the one-inch cylinder to him. “Fasten that around your belt loop.”
“What is it?”
“My spare compass. The top screws off and inside is a bead with a red dot on one end. Put it on a flat surface away from metal, and the dot will point north. You have twelve and a half hours of light each day; use it wisely.”
He opened the canister and dropped the magnetic bead onto his palm. After examining it, he returned it to the cylinder. “What are you going to do for water. I’m taking the bottle from the plane.”
“I have a refillable bottle that self-filters. I can drink from any water source.”
“We should stick together.”
“I know, but you’ve made your decision, and I respect that.” She walked towards the bushes to find a place to change in private.
“How am I to find Fort Hope without the map?”
“You don’t need a useless paper map.” She ducked beneath a branch, leaving him cursing and mumbling under in his breath.
Find Diane on her Social Links:
Diane McGyver Blog : https://dianelynnmcgyver.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0083WOOHW