Reeling from the shock of a suddenly shattered marriage, Meredith flees as far from her home in Florida as she can get without a passport: to Alaska. After a freak accident leaves her presumed dead, she stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. Her friendship with a fiery and temperamental artist and her growing worry for her elderly, cranky landlady pull at the fabric of her carefully guarded secret. When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith struggles to find a way to meld her past and present so that she can move into the future she craves. But someone is looking for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I was so glad I read this book during a super hot week here in NY-the Alaskan setting was the perfect getaway. I really enjoyed the pace of this book, it was quick, but you didn’t feel like you couldn’t connect to the characters. I love how Meredith feels and says exactly what you want her to in each scene. This 4 star read is a great book is full of twists, turns, and secrets. It’d be a perfect book club read to get the conversations with your girlfriends flowing, xo!
What inspired you to become a writer?
I don’t think “inspired” is quite the right term. Writing is just something I’ve always done. I started writing stories and poems when I was in grammar school. In hard times in my life, I’ve journaled my way through a lot of challenges. I love words, plain and simple. I love to see words on a page—love to read them, love to write them. I don’t think every author comes to writing in the same way, but for me, writing has always been my main creative outlet.
When you started writing Compass North, what was your biggest challenge?
It was challenging to write about my main character, Meredith. I think many readers are accustomed (and like) to read about plucky heroines who are bold and strong. When we first meet Meredith, she’s been beaten down by years of emotional abuse by her husband. She’s lost herself. Her self-confidence has disappeared. Meredith has wonderful qualities, but they’ve been dismissed by her husband to the point that she can’t see herself clearly.
The challenge, then, was to have readers understand that Meredith isn’t whiny or weak as the novel begins, but rather that she’s downtrodden to the point that she barely knows who she is anymore. Over the course of the story, Meredith rediscovers her strengths and reinvents herself in her new existence in Homer, Alaska. Of course, that’s no easy task. Meredith finds that it’s not so easy to leave behind the baggage of your past.
Tips for anyone who wants to write a novel?
Persevere. Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a huge amount of work. There are thousands (probably millions) of talented and insightful writers in the world who begin a novel but get lost somewhere in the middle, and never finish. It really helps to be a member of a writing group or to take a class on novel-writing, because that will help you stay focused and your fellow group members/classmates will encourage (and nag) you onward. I read somewhere that a new writer averages about two years to write a first novel, but I personally know a number of writers who have been working on their first novel for significantly longer than that. Perseverance then, and patience.
What were your fave books growing up?
I had so many fave books. I loved fantasies and books about adventures. I read THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS over and over—though I always skipped the songs and poems. I loved the classics too: All of Jane Austen, Thackeray, Dickens. At one point in my younger life I was reading a book a day. Hooray for libraries! And though I don’t remember all those titles now, I know that the words, thoughts and messages in those books are still somewhere inside of me, that they were some of the building blocks that made my life what it is today.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a potter. I love to have my hands in clay. I also hike as much as I can, usually in the wonderful Cascade mountains in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I like to travel. Most recently I’ve been to Bhutan and Peru. And of course I read, read, read.
Must have beauty product?
Does cologne count as a beauty product? I love Jo Malone scents, though the company has discontinued my favorite (Sweet Lime and Cedar)
Do you have any pets?
Yes, we have a rescue Manx cat named Bruno. Manx cats don’t have tails, so their body structure is a little different from other types of cats. Bruno has oversized haunches and he moves a little like a rabbit—and wow can he jump. He’s big and fearless and he wishes we had mice.
Stephanie Joyce Cole lived for decades in Alaska. She and her husband recently relocated to Seattle, where they reside with a predatory but lovable Manx cat named Bruno. Stephanie has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, creating ceramics, practicing yoga, traveling, volunteering and discovering new ways to have fun–and oh yes, reading, reading, reading.
instagram; kmp718 | twitter; @kmpevents | pinterest; kmp718