For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited contemporary sweet romance author Bell Calhoune to talk about her latest release, Their Alaskan Past.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado … Belle, please introduce yourself and tell us something interesting readers would
enjoy learning about you?
Hello everyone. My name is Belle Calhoune.
Fun fact about me: I studied French for ten years and have traveled extensively through France, my first trip taking place at the age of 16. I consider myself a Francophile. I’ve written approximately 50 romance novels and can’t wait to write 50 more.
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
Their Alaskan Past.
Could their unexpected reunion lead to a second chance?
She broke his heart years ago. But now she needs his help.
Veterinarian Maya Roberts has complicated feelings about her ex—Iditarod racer Ace Reynolds—returning to Owl Creek, Alaska. But he’s the perfect person to help with her dog rescue. Now they’re working together, caught by their tangled past and still-unresolved feelings for each other. But a second chance with Ace isn’t just about forgiveness. It means sharing the secret that’s kept them apart…
What made you choose to write about Alaskan sled-dogs?
I think the art of sled dog racing is fascinating. The discipline involved in competing in this grueling sport is awe inspiring. The cold, the long hours, the physical conditioning are all obstacles to engaging in this endeavor. yet the individuals who participate push through all of that. I admire the dogs so much for having such dedication to this sport and pushing through the elements to finish races. I’d seen a lot of movies with sled dog racing (my favorite is Snow Dogs) but in researching them I discovered how amazing they truly are. When you write an Alaskan setting, the culture draws you in to a world of discovery. Alaskan sled dogs are such a big part of the Alaskan culture and I was eager to explore it.
What makes Alaskan sled-dogs different from other types of dogs? Are there specific breeds that tend to be sled-dogs?
Alaskan sled dogs are typically Huskies and Malamutes. These dogs are great for sled racing due to their ability to deal with cold temperatures, their lean and athletic builds, disposition, strength and focus. They are also very affectionate and loyal to their pack.
Your main character raced the Iditarod. Can you tell us about the race?
The Iditarod is the most prestigious sled dog racing competition in the world. It is a sled dog race covering 938 miles of beautiful Alaskan terrain (Anchorage to Nome). The race is in March and happens on a yearly basis. The Iditarod began in 1973 and honors the history of the Alaskan sled dog as well as the native Inuit people. For winning first place, the cash prize is $52,000.
What research was required to give authenticity to your characters?
I had the extreme honor of talking to sled dog racing team of identical twins, Kristy and Anna Berington, and their sister, Kat, who works with them but is not a musher. Kristy and Anna have a brand and a website that tells their story: Seeing Double Dog Sled Racing. These ladies have participated in the Iditarod and have been features on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine. They really provided a wonderful perspective about sled dog racing and what it takes to be successful at it. And it’s so amazing that three sisters are able to work together for something they truly love. I also talked to romance writer, Teri Wilson, about her experiences as a handler for the Iditarod. She was one of the helpers who support the racers and canines en route to the finish line.
Your book is set in Alaska—What research was required to set a book there? Have you lived there or did you need to travel there?
I’m not a native Alaskan nor have I ever lived there, but I feel that my research greatly assists me in writing authentic Alaskan-based stories. Readers tend to think I’m from Alaska which is a wonderful compliment.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
When I was getting information from the Berington sisters I found out that one of the twins, Kristy, met her husband, Paul, on the Iditarod racing trail. Talk about a meet cute. It’s a lovely story of meeting your destiny while doing something you are passionate about. I think this could be the plot for a romance novel.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Belle, thank you for joining us today to talk about sled dogs, Alaska, and Their Alaskan Past.
If you would like to purchase a copy of Their Alaskan Past, Belle’s books can be purchased on Amazon, Walmart, Target, Barnes and Nobles, Harlequin.com, Books a Million, Christian books, and more. And, if you would like to learn about Belle or her other books, you can find her online on her Author Belle Calhoune Facebook page, on Instagram Belle Calhoune, on twitter @BelleCalhoune and on her website bellecalhoune.com where you can sign up for her newsletter.
Over Sunday Dinner next week western romance author Jodi Basye will be joining us. See you then!