TBP: To start off with, tell us a little bit about yourself.
RF: My father was in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which means we moved a lot when I was growing up. I was born in the remote northern community of Fort McPherson which is inside the Arctic Circle in the Mackenzie Delta. At that time the R.C.M.P. members patrolled large geographic areas by dog team and I was lucky enough to grow up in that environment. Although most of my life was spent in northern communities we also lived in Ottawa Ontario, St. John’s Newfoundland, Charlottetown Prince Edward Island, and Halifax Nova Scotia. I have five children and currently live in Edmonton Alberta.
TBP: With only 140 characters available, what would you tweet to get people wanting to read Arctic Thunder?
RF: It’s not just a sports story! It’s also a story of self-discovery. Boy moves from south to the Arctic where he must adapt to the culture. Funny/entertaining/educational.
TBP: Give us a brief description of your other two books.
RF: Napachee is a young Inuit boy living in the very remote community of Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories. He is having difficulty getting along with his father who is pushing him to maintain the traditional values of his people. Napachee’s dream is to visit the big city of Edmonton, Alberta and experience life in the South. When a group of men visit Sachs Harbour to capture a polar bear cub for the zoo, Napachee stows away on their plane and finally gets his dream of experiencing Edmonton! He quickly experiences culture shock and realizes that the North is really where he belongs. With the polar bear cub and his new friend Jo as his companions, Napachee makes his way back North. Their adventure is full of peril as they race against time to reach Sachs Harbour before they are captured by those that would use the polar bear cub for their personal gain.
Mystery at Shildii Rock is a murder mystery which takes place at Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories. Robin Harris is a youth with an overactive imagination who has a reputation for crying wolf. When he believes something suspicious is happening near Shildii Rock, his father, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police won’t believe him. As things escalate to murder, Robin and his friend Wayne Reindeer, fight to solve the mystery and gain the respect of their fathers.
TBP: Are you currently working on another book right now? If so, would you mind telling us a little bit about it?
RF: I am currently working on a fourth book. It is a work of adult fiction and quite a departure for me. The plot follows the life of a young Metis girl growing up as the only non-white in a small Alberta community. She faces a harsh existence as an orphan being raised by an aunt and uncle who despise her. There are supernatural overtones to the book and at this stage it is somewhat hard to explain. I based a good portion of the protagonists experience on my mother’s childhood and it has quite a personal feel as I write it. Several of my close friends are reading the book as it develops and love what they have seen! Their only complaint is that I am not writing it fast enough!
TBP: What is one of your favorite Arctic games and why? Favorite regular sport?
RF: I love all of the Arctic Sports however I would have to say that the Airplane is my favourite. The strength and endurance required are incredible! The fact that someone can keep their body perfectly rigid in the airplane position long enough to be lifted off the ground, let along be carried that way for a considerable distance is amazing!
My favorite regular sport of course is lacrosse! It was Canada’s first national sport and has always had to live in the shadow of our obsession with hockey. Lacrosse brings together speed, strength, endurance and incredible hand eye coordination. It also has a somewhat violent appearance with lots of body contact, cross-checking and slashing with the stick. I have held seasons tickets since the Edmonton Rush played their first game in the National Lacrosse League, and exposed many friends to the sport. Their first reaction is usually, “Are they allowed to do that??!!!” Once they gain an understanding of the game they are hooked! The amazing part is the players all hold full time jobs off the lacrosse floor. These are teachers, firemen, policemen, vineyard owners, and office workers who endure injury, travel and time away from family simply because they love the game.
TBP: Of all the places you have lived, which are your two favorites? Why?
RF: This is a difficult one! I have had the pleasure of driving from one end of Canada to the other and we have such a beautiful country. I don’t think the average Canadian appreciates how lucky we are. If I have to narrow it down I would say Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories. Prince Edward Island is a land of bright red soil, lush green pastures, and ocean vistas every direction you look. The people are incredibly friendly and it has that small town feel I love. The Northwest Territories and Nunavut have mountains, forests, rivers, the ocean and numerous amazing animals. Having the ability to step out your door, jump on a snowmobile or four-wheeler and literally be all by yourself within five minutes is one of the things I miss the most living in the city. To travel on the tundra and encounter a silence so resounding you imagine your ears are starting to hum is something everyone should experience. It can be a harsh, cold environment but the warmth of the people makes it all seem enjoyable.
TBP: What is your favorite thing to eat and/or drink to help keep warm on a cold night?
RF: Muktuk and tea! Muktuk, the outer skin of the whale, is natures food for a cold environment. The combination of vitamin C (yes vitamin C!) and fat immediately warms you up.
TBP: If you could be any comic book superhero, who would it be and why?
RF: I am a comic book fanatic so again this is tough for me! I am torn between which comic hero I enjoy reading about the most and which one I would like to be. Although Dare Devil and Moonknight are likely my favorite comics, if I had to become one of the characters it would be Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four. He is brilliant, has a cool superpower, and an amazing family!
TBP: If you could shapeshift into any animal, which would it be and why?
RF: I would love to shapeshift into a wolverine! They are intelligent, strong and very feisty! Not to mention they are pretty darn cute!
TBP: If you could meet any famous athlete no longer living, who would it be and why?
RF: I would love to meet Jack Johnson, the first African American Heavyweight boxing champion. The animosity and hate he endured as an African American Champion in 1908 must have been unfathomable. I would love to hear his stories and learn what kept him motivated. He was a brave man in the ring and outside the ring where he faced death threats and hatred.
TBP: What is the one modern convenience (indoor plumbing, electricity, cell phone, etc) that you'd be most reluctant to give up?
RF: I love my shower in the morning! Going through the experience of hauling and heating water makes me appreciate this convenience. Using an outhouse or Honey-bucket doesn’t bother me but give me my shower!
TBP: Anything else you'd like to add before you go?
RF: Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk about my books and the north. I was lucky enough to recently speak to students in Chicago and it was so rewarding to see their enthusiasm and excitement when learning about the north. It’s an amazing place that so many people still don’t know enough about.
And thank you, Robert, for sharing with us! This has got to be one of my favorite interviews and I really enjoyed having you here at my blog. I would so love to go to some of the many places you've been to up north and really loved hearing about them. I'd go crazy with my camera.
Hope all of you out there reading this enjoyed getting to know more about Robert and will pick yourself up a copy of Arctic Thunder! It really is a great read and if you'd like to know more about it:
My Noteworthy Passages
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. :D