Joyce Derenas, a long-time participant in our SBWC community, just released a new novel: Becca’s Kiss: Murder and a Broken Heart in Alaska. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Joyce about her book and what motivated her to write it.
SBWC: Joyce, congratulations on another book in the series A Klondike Gold Miner’s Life. How would you describe the plot of Becca’s Kiss?
Joyce Derenas: A Klondike Gold rush miner turns lumber mill owner in Dawson, and marries a former scarlet lady. She is pulled from her dark past for a while but unknown and tormented memories lie in wait as she returns to the bottle for escape.
SBWC: What compelled you to write this story?
Joyce Derenas: It’s part of my series about my Klondike Gold Rush ancestors. The series, A Klondike Gold Miner’s Life, continues with this novella, exploring the events which would have impacted my great uncle Romeo Poulin during the earliest part of his life in the Yukon.
SBWC: Is Becca your favorite character, or is it someone else?
Joyce Derenas: I found myself more fascinated by Becca’s aging uncle, Ben Johnnie, because he knew how to read the rivers, the game trails, and plants in the Yukon Territory.
SBWC: All of your books in A Klondike Gold Miner’s Life series have a strong historical flavor. How do you make the narrative sound authentic even though your stories take place well over a century ago?
Joyce Derenas: I have done a lot of research on pieces or articles written at the time, scanning newspapers over a hundred years old, and can usually spot old-timey expressions that have fallen out of use today. And truth be told, I do a lot of translating from French to English in my head as I write.
SBWC: What was the hardest part about writing Becca’s Kiss?
Joyce Derenas: Thinking about what it meant to be a member of the Tlingit tribe living in the Tongass Rainforest in the Yukon was difficult. I researched natural resources, available foods and the historic posture or attitudes to the land in that area. I was delighted to receive a compact picture of Tlingits in Ketchikan from Irene Dundas, Cultural Resources Coordinator for the Ketchikan Indian Community. This telephone call to Alaska enlightened me on the challenges of life in the early 1900s as Tlingits struggled with answering to white men’s laws while not benefitting from their protection.
SBWC: What’s next on your writing horizon?
Joyce Derenas: I am planning to release the next book in the series called Anna’s Wish in the next month. There will be a book trailer for Becca’s Kiss and Anna’s Wish, and an ACX for all three books in this series.