Behind-The-Scenes of NORTHERN PROTECTOR (Heroes of the Tundra Book 2)

We’re starting the last month of 2020 – December! This will be my third December bringing out a book set in Churchill, Manitoba, the real Canadian town set on the polar bear migration path along the southern shores of Hudson Bay. I’m thrilled to be bringing this last book of the trilogy to you next week, Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

I thought you might like to see photos of the real places I mention in the book. In fact, they’ve been mentioned in both NORTHERN DECEPTION, and last year’s NORTHERN HEARTS. My husband and I went up to Churchill in July, 2019 for a week-long research trip so that I could make sure I got all of the summertime details correct for NORTHERN PROTECTOR. It was a bucket-list experience!

This is the town’s LAZY BEAR LODGE which was the inspiration for my “Great Northern Lodge & Restaurant”. I don’t have a photo for “Ruby’s Cafe & Emporium” because it’s inspiration was GYPSY’S BAKERY which burned down on Mother’s Day 2018, before NORTHERN DECEPTION ever came out.

This is the real-life CHURCHILL NORTHERN STUDIES CENTRE. I had to change the name for my books because my publisher doesn’t allow us to use real place names (other than towns, obviously). So, this place became the ARCTIC RESEARCH SCIENCE CENTRE in all three books. In real-life they study all manner of arctic biology, not just the polar bears. Students and scientists from all over the world come here to do research on the Canadian arctic.

This is the huge only-store-in-town for groceries/furniture/hardware/pharmaceuticals. In my books, I renamed it The Gateway so that I wouldn’t have any copyright issues. It’s a ginormous barn of a place, where a case of soda pop costs $26.00, as does a pack of cigarettes. A case of 12 bottled water was $24.00. It’s the cost of flying everything up north. The train brings up passengers but goods are flown in.

This is the 737 we flew up on, and is the same as the one I described in NORTHERN PROTECTOR. Cargo goes in the front half of the plane and passengers sit in the back half. Things are carefully situated so that the plane is loaded on the level. Everyday items people need are flown up once a week.

Houses are “rowed” together to save on heating. Some are one-storey like these and other streets have two-storied models but they all are attached to save on heating costs. These are what I imagined Joy and her daughter Emberlyn living in.

On the edge of town, down at the shoreline/beach area, stands this Inukshuk. I mention it briefly in all three books, but in NORTHERN PROTECTOR it’s mentioned because the high school kids go down here to drink and party. Which according to a couple of townspeople, is pretty much what goes on during the spring and summer time. Still, they have to be careful because a polar bear can appear along the shore at any time.

We were up on the off-season for polar bears, although our tour group spotted a mother bear and her two cubs walking along the shore. In November and December, tourists comes from all over the world – and especially from China – to see Churchill polar bears as they come from inland to go out onto the sea ice again for the winter. These Tundra Buggies are what we took out into the Wildlife Management Area I describe in my books. They’re high enough to keep the bears at a distance, and have thick enough metal that the bears can’t break through it.

Here’s the mother bear we spotted. Her two cubs had just walked by and she heard something behind her that made her go up on her hind legs to investigate it. Polar bears can hear up to two miles away. They’re eyesight is as good as a human with 20/20 eyesight. They’ve adapted extraordinary abilities in order to survive in an arctic environment.

The tundra isn’t completely flat. In the front of this photo, you can see the willow bushes I describe in NORTHERN PROTECTOR. They’re like willow trees except they never grow past 2 to 3 feet tall and branch out horizontally. Polar bears love to sleep underneath them and townspeople know better than to walk in areas that have willow bushes. We saw this from the tundra buggy. That’s a caribou in the centre of the photo. The water is melted permafrost.

Next Tuesday on release day, I’ll share some more photos of the real places in NORTHERN PROTECTOR. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did writing it.

What’s on your bucket list? Do you have any desire to travel to the arctic/wilderness areas to see polar bears or other big game?