Like a lot of authors, I tend to gravitate to certain themes when I write. It's more than wanting to write romance because I love the act of falling in love. It's about exploring ideas or people or even locations because they resonate in some way with me.
A common idea I come back to time and time again is that of loss. In all its forms. It could be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a place, or even the loss of self. When I sat down to write A Flight in Ice, I knew fairly quickly that it was going to be about all three of those.
The loss of place came first. A winter story demanded a cold location, and as an ex-Michigander, I relished the idea of going back to it. Like Connor, my hero, I left Michigan behind years ago, to forge a new life beyond its borders. Thankfully, my story has a much happier ending than his did, but I'll admit, I get nostalgic about moving back every once in a while. Michigan will always have a place in my heart, with memories both good and bad, but more importantly, it helped forge who I am today.
Connor flees his California life in an attempt to hide away from his problems, but that just brought to life the second issue of loss in the story. Everything he's had has been stripped away from him, forcing him to focus on discovering who he is and what truly matters to him. The loss of his longtime partner is hard for him to adjust to, even if he knows that it's for the better. It's all three of these issues that drive him throughout the story and color his first interactions with Jerry.
In the following excerpt, Connor has been getting cabin fever, so when he discovers Jerry has a snowmobile, he jumps at the opportunity to go out for a ride...
The first time I went snowmobiling, I was eleven years old, and my best friend finally agreed to ask his father if he would take us out. Larry was a bit of a wimp when it came to anything physical, but except for that, I pretty much adored him. He was funny and smart, and he had a beautiful smile. I didn't realize until much later that he was probably my first real crush, but by then, he'd moved away and I was doing everything I could to hide the fact that I was gay.
I'd loved it, though. The rush of air across my cheeks, the sense of flying across the snow. I used to imagine that I was racing to save the world from impending apocalypse, or that I was transporting a crucial medicine in a world destroyed by technology to a hidden outpost in the middle of nowhere because that was the only place that was safe from the cyborgs.
I might've read a few of Dad's disaster books when I was a teenager.
And watched Terminator 2 too many times. For a gay fifteen-year-old with limited resources, Arnie in his prime was too hard to resist.
I was more excited about going out now than I would've been a couple weeks ago, but then again, I was a different man than I'd been then. I loaded a cooler with the foil-covered lasagna, some frozen garlic bread, and the rocky road I'd been saving, dropped it in the passenger seat of the pickup, and sped down the road to Jerry's house with my pulse racing in anticipation.
He came out as I pulled up, dangling a pair of keys. "Trade you."
I swapped out the cooler with a grin. "I'm the one getting the better end of this deal."
"Only because you haven't seen me eat yet." Setting the cooler inside the door, he left it behind to lead me around the end of the house. "The snowmobile's in the barn. Come on."
Time and temperature had weathered the old barn to a mottled gray. I'd helped Mr. Zielinski paint it when I was in high school, but it was chipped and faded, untouched after all these years. The hinges squealed as Jerry hauled aside one of the double doors. Normally, the sound would grate on me. Now it heralded an escape.
"Tank's full." He led me straight to where it sat near the door, grabbing the corner of the tarp that covered it and pulling it back. "You can go straight out the back of the property to hit the fields."
There would be trails through some of the trees, as well, but I was caught up short by the snowmobile he revealed. "You have a Bearcat." An Arctic Cat Bearcat, to be exact. A newer model than the one Larry's dad had owned, but a real work machine nonetheless.
"My father used to help haul things for people," Jerry said.
"It has two seats." I pointed out the obvious. "Why don't you come with me?"
With a sheepish grin, he shook his head and backed away. "I don't want to intrude. You go ahead. Have fun."
"Do you ride?"
"And you trust a guy who hasn't been on a snowmobile in over a decade?"
"I don't think you have a death wish, and you're definitely not stupid, so yeah, if you trust yourself to go out, then I trust you, too."
But now that I knew it would hold both of us, I wanted him to join me. In a way, it would be like going out with Larry and his dad, and I craved the reminder of a simpler world. Nobody in California would ever hand over the keys to a vehicle to a veritable stranger. Another huge difference about coming back home. Jerry was the symbol of everything I'd hoped to regain by returning.
A Flight in Ice by Vivien Dean is now available at Amber Allure.
If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!