Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Wednesday's Special Is ... Freezing Point!

Freezing Point by Karen Dionne.

Just released! Order here from Amazon.


What's more terrifying than a Halloween horror story? How about a thriller that's so eerily plausible it'll have you second-guessing the best of corporate motives right along with government assurances that global warming is just an ecological hiccup.

When a 1,000 square-mile section of the Larson Ice Shelf broke off the Antarctic continent in 1998 due to global warming, thousands read the AP story in their local papers. Only one was inspired to write a novel about the giant iceberg. Karen Dionne combined that incident with the greatest April Fool’s hoax in Discover Magazine’s history to create “a timely, terrifying thriller” (Dame Magazine) about an environmentalist who thinks he can alleviate the world’s fresh water crisis by melting Antarctic icebergs into drinking water – not realizing he’s about to unleash an environmental disaster with the potential to destroy all mankind.

“Filled with fascinating science and thorny ethical questions, Freezing Point takes horror to a chilling new degree,” Dame Magazine adds. “Its ingenious plot, genuine characters, superlative writing and nail-biting suspense will change the way you look at a bottle of water," according to Romantic Times Book Review – all without a drop of romance in the novel!

It takes a cold, calculating mind to come up with this kind of thriller material. Say the type of mind that creates a little Web site for writers and calls it Backspace. Or perhaps the type of mind that gets its owner ranked #11 worldwide in the "Expert" category of Minesweeper. (Yes, folks, sad but true.)

Let's take a peek inside this mind, shall we? (Oh, and if you're eating ... well, let's just say I wouldn't be.) Answer the questions that follow for your chance to win a copy of Freezing Point.

***************

For the fourth time in as many hours, Zo shoved the Hägglunds into park, opened the door, and jumped to the ground. The moment her feet touched down, she bent double, retching her peanut butter and jelly sandwich onto the snow. Straightening, she wiped her mouth on her jacket sleeve and leaned against the vehicle’s track to catch her breath. Then another cramp seized her, and she bent forward again.

Once her stomach was empty, she climbed back into the driver’s seat, still hungry, still nauseated, and leaned her head against the steering wheel, thinking how ridiculous it was that something as normal as pregnancy should make a woman so sick. She eyed the remaining half of her sandwich; then looked down at the brown and purple Rorschach blot in the snow and sealed the sandwich in a zip-lock bag—force of habit, since the Antarctic climate was so dry an open bag of chips stayed fresh for months.

Shifting the Hägglunds into gear, she started forward with one eye on the flag line and the other on the GPS, the mountains on either side rising up out of the snow like miniature Himalayas. A pterodactyl-shaped shadow passed over the ground. Zo traced it back to an albatross flying overhead. Seabirds never came very far inland, which meant she was close. She was tempted to roll down the window to sample the salt-smell in the air, but the exterior readout of –2E F and the frequent spindrifts of snow counseled otherwise.

After another half hour of jostling and bumping, she arrived at the Larson. In front of her, the glacier pooled between two rocky promontories like melted ice cream, spilling carelessly out onto the ocean where at some indeterminate point it ceased being a glacier and became the Larson Ice Shelf. Viewed from a distance, the surface was deceptively smooth, but ice shelves floated up and down with the tides, grating against the rocks and opening up cracks and fissures capable of swallowing an entire fleet of Hägglunds. Icebergs the size of apartment buildings regularly broke off from the leading edge in a process that was as natural as the seasons. It was only in recent years that chunks as big as small countries had begun falling into the sea. Laymen pointed their confident fingers at global warming, but lacking definitive empirical evidence, scientists were divided. Zo’s physical survey was intended to add to their body of knowledge; unfortunately, one season’s data wasn’t going to amount to much of a contribution.

As she drove out onto the glacier, she followed her previous tracks closely, fully aware of the sacrilege she was committing by scarring the face of the object she’d come to study. For all its harshness, Antarctica’s was a delicate ecosystem where change came slowly and even a footprint lasted for decades. To her left, she saw movement, the usual welcoming committee of dark shapes scurrying low to the ground. She tapped the horn in greeting and congratulated herself for not shuddering. The rats weren’t the only ones capable of adapting.

***************
Questions:

1) What kind of vehicle does Karen typically drive, and why?

2) Zo obviously frequents the Ice Shelf often. Why doesn't she just stay home and keep her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer like the rest of us? (10 words or less.)

3) Write a haiku using at least 3 of the following words: rats, albatross, iceberg, Hägglunds, Rorschach.

***************

Like what you've read so far? Come back this weekend to read CHAPTER ONE of Freezing Point!

41 comments:

Phoenix said...

It's almost Halloween, so let's talk thrillers!

Welcome, Karen!

Interesting seeing all that ice juxtaposed against that flaming grill. Hot and cold. Polar opposites. Get it? Polar. (Sorry - I think I need some sleep...)

Can't wait to see everyone's answers. Or questions. Or just general chatting! Let's turn the heat up in here just a little more!

Charles Gramlich said...

That really sounds like an interesting plot. I'll check it out.

As for the questions:

1) What kind of vehicle does Karen typically drive, and why?

Answer: A Seadoo, just in case of melting ice water.

2) Zo obviously frequents the Ice Shelf often. Why doesn't she just stay home and keep her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer like the rest of us? (10 words or less.)

Answer: Because there's nothing like glacier cold.

3) Write a haiku using at least 3 of the following words: rats, albatross, iceberg, Hägglunds, Rorschach.

Answer/Haiku: Adrift in cold
Lonely rat eating albatross
Iceberg rorschach

Dave F. said...

Hi, sounds like a neat idea. The antarctic ice shelf as the harbinger of disaster...
As for the questions:
1) What kind of vehicle does Karen typically drive, and why?
A hummer because this was written before the gasoline crisis.
2) Zo obviously frequents the Ice Shelf often. Why doesn't she just stay home and keep her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer like the rest of us? (10 words or less.)
It's the lure of the past frozen in the ice. The Earth's history and she is Erda.
3) Write a haiku using at least 3 of the following words: rats, albatross, iceberg, Hägglunds, Rorschach.
Sorry, my poetic brain cells are on strike tonight.

ChrisEldin said...

LOL about the rats line!
This sounds like a terrific book!

I have a question: Do you still play minesweeper? Is there a championship prize waiting for you somewhere....

:-)

by Karen Dionne said...

Thanks for the welcome! I'm delighted to be here. Can't think of a cooler place to be sliced and diced - even if Phoenix is planning to turn up the heat. (Is that really necessary? I mean, what with global warming and all . . .)

Dave - our first haiku! Talk about rising to the challenge! (Rising/global warming/melting iceshelves/rising ocean levels - okay, it's a stretch)

Charles - A hummer? Sure, but what color?

Chris - I once read that Lee Child is addicted to minesweeper too. Notice you don't see HIS name on that list . . .

Lynette said...

I'm glad to see your book is hot!

My answers:
1. She drives a Bentley with personalized upholstery. She would drive a Rolls Royce, but she doesn't want to seem to pretentious with her new success.

2. Zo is a budget conscious traveler and recycles her meals.

3.
The Hagglaunds squashed them
Flat to the iceberg surface
The rats are pucks now

by Karen Dionne said...

Rats as hockey pucks! I love it!

laughingwolf said...

welcome karen, i'm hooked on your tale :)

1. karen's typical drive is a dogsled... despite 'global warming', her town's getting colder

2. living with karen, zo has no need of a freezer

3. icebergs, rats, albatross
hagglunds, rorschach, and moss
they all haunt our zo
thus keep her in snow -
and that, my friends, is our loss

[i don't do haiku :P lol ]

Phoenix said...

Oh, I'm loving all those modes of transport. We'll find out later what the "Ice Queen" really drives (or wishes she drove!). Keep the guesses coming!

And if you have any questions for Karen, go ahead and ask. It's open season!

Melanie Avila said...

I loved this book and I swear I'm not biased. :)

1) What kind of vehicle does Karen typically drive, and why?

a shiny new Mazda that's been specially treated to repel nasty salt and sea water

2) Zo obviously frequents the Ice Shelf often. Why doesn't she just stay home and keep her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer like the rest of us? (10 words or less.)

It's therapy for a childhood freezer incident.

3) Write a haiku using at least 3 of the following words: rats, albatross, iceberg, Hägglunds, Rorschach.

First the rats are friends
Iceberg deaths, too scared to run
Hägglunds rescue me

by Karen Dionne said...

Now how in the world would MY NIECE Melanie know what kind of car I drive????

The book's an environmental thriller, though - at the very least, I should be driving a Prius!

Melanie Avila said...

But I tied it into the environment with the salt and sea thing. ;)

Phoenix said...

Well, alrighty, then, I have a question.

Karen, do you think marrying up a hoax with a headline is the best way of coming up with a plot? Should writers be encouraged to plot more books this way? And if so, any suggestions as to where the richest source of plot-inspiring headlines may be found?

Barrie said...

I think it's the perfect time of year to read this book!

Dave F. said...

uh, Charles wrote the Haiku and I talked about Hummers. That's what you get for blogging before 10am.
;)

Hummers are black and chrome. They can't be sexy and powerful and be anything else. I mean, who would drive a sky-blue Hummer? or a Lilac Hummer? Liberace maybe but Lee never envisioned such motorized beasts. Maybe Elton John would want a passionate pink Hummmer but even that sounds so homophobic, I hesitate to say it.

As for white in cars... Country Cadillacs are white or red. That's the only two acceptable colors. What's a country Cadillac you ask - That's a huge pickup truck with a camper back, a chromed-up light bar, low yellow fog lamps, chromed running boards and steps. Side lights, lights ringing the license
plate, lights in front of the grill, a chromed stag hood ornament, AND MOST IMPORTANT a chromed dear spotting light and chromed roll bar with lights.

by Karen Dionne said...

Sorry about that Dave! Just testing. ;)

As for the color of the Hummer, absolutely, you are right - nothing but black, all the way. Though out here in the burbs where I live, you see them in all colors - or rather, you used to before the price of gas exploded.

And Barrie - thanks for the nice words. I agree, there's no way a book called FREEZING POINT could have been a summer beach read.

Regarding the title, originally, I called this novel SELLING ANTARCTICA. I liked the multiple layers - literally selling the continent, abusing the environment and thus selling the continent out, and so on. But friends said that sounded too much like non-fiction. After considerable effort, I renamed I the book COLD WATER.

Then I sent the manuscript to David Morrell in hopes of a blurb, and he loved everything about it EXCEPT the title, pointing out that I was setting myself up for reviewers to say, "I don't want to throw cold water on this novel, but -" He suggested FREEZING POINT, and ta-da! the title stuck. Pretty cool, huh? It's not every debut author who gets their novel named by a bestseller!

As to your question, Phoenix - marrying a hoax with a headline is a great way of cooking up timely fiction. But you can't use the headlines from the tabloids - no one would ever believe 'em.

Word said...

This sounds outstanding!

Did you do any kind of travel to the antarctic prior to writing this book? BRRRRRR.... Heck - I don't even have a clue what all that would involve...

1. Harley

2) She's trying to get a snow tan.

OMG was that lame or what?


3) Oh shoot - I've got four minutes before quitting time and I can't come up with anything creative. Dang.

Anyway - Best Wishes Karen - This sounds like something I would really enjoy!

Sarah Hina said...

Fantastic concept and excerpt, Karen! Oh, and I'm a former Minesweeper addict, too. :)

The questions:

1) Bicycles are better than Priuses--they burn nothing except calories. And the cold wind makes us feel more alive. :)

2) Because penguins have more protein.

3) Icebergs vanishing
Our albatross of warming
Tests our Rorschach eyes

Phoenix said...

Sorry, had a sudden urge to go play Minesweeper and, sort of like Lay's potato chips, you can't just play one game, can you.

Karen, do you have any other books on the backburner you can tell us about?

by Karen Dionne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
by Karen Dionne said...

Thanks for the nice - er - words, word! I didn't travel to Antarctica to research this story, but I lived for 30 years in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so I know snow and cold. Temps of -35 (that's Farenheidt, not Celsius); four-foot high snow drifts. Many of the descriptions in the novel are straight from my own experience - and of course, I read the online journals of folks who'd spent time in Antarctica. Thankfully, they're all eager to journal their experiences!

Sarah, I'm totally impressed! A FORMER minesweeper addict? You mean there's a cure?

A character in Freezing Point is similarly addicted . . .

As for what's next, I'm working on another science thriller that my agent and I both love - the story spans 3 continents and 4,000 years, and weaves together some really cool history with some really cool science. All I can say about the plot is I hope my readers like spiders . . .

Melanie Avila said...

Spiders? Really?

*shudders*

by Karen Dionne said...

Yeah, I seem to be drawn toward repulsive creatures. (wonder what that says about your Uncle Roger???)

Word said...

Hey Karen -

A Yupper huh? Southern Wisconsinite myself. Guess that makes me a Cheese Head ;-)

I've been up there - many years ago - Macinac (spelling?) Island. The drive along Hwy 2 was nothing short of incredible. I fell in love with the dunes.

What's the correct way to pronounce - Macinac or Macinaw? I've heard it both ways. Yeah - these questions keep me up nights!

by Karen Dionne said...

It's pronounced Mack-i-naw, whether it's spelled Mackinac (as in Mackinac Island), or Mackinaw (as in Mackinaw City).

This description from FREEZING POINT of what Ben Maki observes from the giant icesberg is exactly what I once observed driving over the Mack-i-naw Bridge:

"Thick, gunmetal clouds formed a low ceiling overhead while out over the ocean, the sun had punched a single hole and was shining through like a spotlight, turning the swells a luminous aquamarine."

Summer or winter, it's gorgeous scenery up there, all right. Every day was a visual treat.

On the other hand, I do love cheese!

Word said...

"Thick, gunmetal clouds formed a low ceiling overhead while out over the ocean, the sun had punched a single hole and was shining through like a spotlight, turning the swells a luminous aquamarine."

Excellent description - love "gunmetal" and "punched".

Cheese is necessary in every dish (imho) ;-)

Well - off to listen to my 2nd grader read from Junie B. Great chatting with you and best wishes!

ChrisEldin said...

Spiders?
Cool.
There's a discovery show on tonight (I think) about giant spiders... I'll be thinking about you.
:-) (Yes, I have to watch this program because I have two boys.)

Phoenix said...

Great imagery, Karen! I can see why you're getting so many rave reviews.

Ooh, and we just had the first cold front of the season blow in, so perfect weather to be reading FREEZING POINT.

I'm intrigued by your "back-to-the-land" days. Would that be a life you'd go back to? Do you have to of an age (young) to make it work? What tempted you away?

Word said...

Oh and thanks for clearing up that Mackinaw vs. Mackinac question!! Can't wait to tell a few folks around here that they are WRONG!

Phoenix said...

One more hour to get your entries in, guys!

by Karen Dionne said...

"Oh and thanks for clearing up that Mackinaw vs. Mackinac question!! Can't wait to tell a few folks around here that they are WRONG!"

Go forth and conquer! I lived right there and I know whereof I speak.

Those back to the land days were great fun, but yeah, I think you have to be young and slightly crazy to do it (I still qualify on the "slightly crazy" part). My daughter was 6 weeks old when we moved to the U.P., and spent her first four months essentially living outdoors. We once visited a neighbor, and I put her to bed while it was still light out. She woke up after it had gotten dark, so I turned on the light to tend to her, and man - did she freak! I had to take her outside so she could look up into the trees to calm her down. Funny little wilderness baby.

Another time I spent all day making some wild apple/chokecherry jelly - all day, because we cooked our food over a small campfire hearth. That night, with the jelly cooling on a nearby table, raccoons came around. Generally speaking, we didn't confront the local wildlife, but there was no way I was going to let them ruin my jelly! Fun times, for sure. All grist for the fiction mill now!

Robin said...

Rats! I hope I'm not too late! Hi Karen! I'm the idiot who called you Dionne at your party. I love the idea of your book, and it's on my nightstand waiting for consumption (not the disease).

I went to Alaska 2 years ago, and got really close to a glacier and it looked just like your description!

I was going to guess Prius for the car, because of the whole environmental theme.

Wouldn't not using a freezer just be for convenience? Who needs a freezer in Antarctica?

I give up on the Haiku. (I'm too lazy or too dumb. A bit of both.)

AstonWest said...

Great premise for a novel!

by Karen Dionne said...

Hi, Robin! Thanks for coming! I'm haiku-challenged as well. And thanks for the nice words, astonwest!

Phoenix said...

*exploding mine*

Calling time now ;o)

Um, Robin, you're not late, I'm just time challenged.

Karen, if you would tally up the count and announce a winner, please. The winner can then contact you through your website to claim their chilling prize.

While we're waiting, I'm off to watch that MonsterQuest episode on giant spiders, just because Chris and Karen put me in the mood!

by Karen Dionne said...

Argh! Picking a winner is HARD. I feel like we're on the playground choosing up sides for kickball: "Pick me, pick me!" (Even if you're not saying, it, I know it's what you're thinking.)

But I agreed to pick just one winner, so here we go. The haiku requirement Phoenix dreamed up is so diabolical, the brave souls who tackled that definitely get a big ol' honking honorable mention, but what can I say? I'm a complete pushover for cheese.

Word, are you ready to chill out with a copy of FREEZING POINT? If so, it's yours!

Thanks to Phoenix, and Chris, and Dave-cum-Charles, and everybody else for having me!

Word said...

OMG! Am I ever ready!! So awesome and I can't wait!

A great big thank you to you Karen!

And a thank you to our hosts at Book Roast!!

I'll shoot you an email tomorrow Karen! Thanks bunches, this was a lot of fun.

Phoenix said...

Oh, lucky Word!! Woo-hoo!

Karen, thank you so much for coming by our little book-and-grill. I loved your book-name-origin and back-to-nature stories, and appreciate you sharing.

And remember, folks, to satisfy your appetite for more Freezing Point, we'll be posting Chapter One over the weekend. Come back by for some icy appetizers!

peggy said...

sorry I missed out, me and that flu bug been fussing, I won! Great book by the way :)

Melanie Avila said...

Congrats Word & good luck Karen!

BuffySquirrel said...

Damn, and I had every intention of tying Karen to the barbecue....