The History of Kate Shugak in 22 Objects – 10

WARNING: Spoilers spoken here.

HoZ Kate10

It’s the Herc. Has to be.

C-130 Hercules

In service since the 1950s, designed originally for troop transport in war zones, it is also one of the sturdiest and most reliable workhorses for transport of freight and heavy equipment into Bush Alaska, home to more rough gravel airstrips than just about anywhere else. They are common to Alaskan skies–I see one or more every day on their way to doing touch-and-goes at Homer Airport. Admittedly, it took a long time to find a pilot who would agree to putting a Herc into a flat spin, even if it was just in his own imagination. When I finally did, I stopped asking and wrote the scene.

A few years after Midnight Come Again was published, I was invited to ride along on the Alaska Air National Guard’s Operation Santa Claus, the annual trip they make to Savoonga. I even got to ride up front for a bit. Earplugs are advised.

Fun fact:

Hunter’s Moon was very nearly the last Kate Shugak novel, not because Kate was done living her life but because my publisher lowballed me on the next contract offer. I like to eat, and a roof is good, too, and neither was possible with that offer. As far as I was concerned, the Kate Shugak series was done.

Meanwhile, across town, the lovely and talented Kelley Ragland, she of St. Martin’s Minotaur, heard on the wind that Kate might be homeless. It turned out she was Kate’s biggest fan, so she contacted my agent and made an offer that allowed for food and lodging. For the first time in my career I was making a decent living, and later, under Kelley’s care, Kate was hitting the New York Times bestseller list.

Our hero.
Our hero.

the 23rd Kate Shugak novel
coming April 11, 2023
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34 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Thank you Kelley — wait patiently (or kinda) for each new Kate novel. Dana what a fantastic way to learn about the history of the area and yet be intrigued by unique mysteries – Great Stories!!

  2. I think I will choose the Dawson Darling. She is the link between Kate and Anne. She is also my favorite Kate character. I love her story. I love that Kate finds her grave and cleans it up. Also, that she is proud to have “the Darlin’ ” as her ancestor. I love this part of the book most, Angel’s story.

  3. Thanks to Kelly Ragland for helping one of my favorite characters stay around. The patrons and I at my library are impatiently for the next Kate book. Once you get Kate, Mutt and the Officer back in the saddle, will you have try solve a murder involving a mayor? I saw a new headline about a new mayor in Alaska being killed. I also really like the Angel’s story, but Break Up is my all time favorite. That bird that tweeters away and Kate thinks it is grandmother, should start warning others when Kate needs help.

  4. I can never thank Kelley Ragland enough …think of what this world would have missed without her !!!!

  5. I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THE NEXT Kate Shugak book…I love dogs and can’t even think what life will be like without MUTT…My son had a wolf named JUNEAU in the heart of Oklahoma. Juneau was a GREAT DOG..can’t wait for the next book. Thanks for writing about Kate and Liam.

  6. Well, wow. Thanks, Kelley.
    For the object-I am, as usual, going to buck the flow and say the 1915 trial transcript. This novel is entirely dependent on the story within the story. Past is prologue, the murderer’s attitudes in everything else she does are made clear through the lens of the past, and the transcript is our way in. Also, the transcript sucked in virtually all of our present-day characters; at the end, Jim, Kate, Dinah, Bobby and Ethan are all discussing the transcript like the trial happened last week.

  7. Just to throw this out there… I was listening to the Star Svensdotter series via Audible. I am wondering if there will be another visit to see how Star and her family are doing? It was just kinda left hanging there… in the dark cold of space. How are the kids? What kind of crazy stuff have they gotten into? Does Elizabeth and the Librarians make a visit?

    • It’s been so long since I wrote Star, I’m not sure I could revisit that world with any conviction. And I have so many other projects hanging fire.

  8. Everyone has veered away from the “Object”, so as one of the few who stayed on point, and as it’s Dec 13, let’s hear it for the Good Time Girls, the topic of this great story!

  9. I have just finished the Kate Shugak and the Liam Campell series and can’t wait to be back in Alaska in my mind. It s such great reading and at the same time learning about the state and it’s people. I started reading the series in preparation of my last years holidays in AK and just can’t stop – well I now will have to or at least temporarily. I look forward to the next Kate Shugak book(s) – best regards from Switzerland

  10. So happy Kate and Mutt aren’t dead. The ending to the last book was terrifying. I may have to read it again to remember where she was. Your books and my desire to see Alaska has resulted in 4 summer trips. Last summer I took my 13 yr old grandson.
    Deb Mitchell
    California you’re

  11. On rereading: why are people slammed to the right side of the herc with a flat spin to the right. I thought the forces would push you to the outer side of the circle so to the left (sort of relevant with the open left door)

    • It’s been a while since I wrote that book so I don’t have an answer for you other than: I might have screwed it up. I do remember it took a while for me to find a pilot who said I could put a Herc into a flat spin, and he shook his head as he helped me write that scene.

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