For the first time in quite a while, I have a new Harlequin release (my 39th) this morning and with perfect timing — it’s gift buying season!
Consider this my shameless plug for my new book, Danger In Big Sky Country, a romantic suspense set in Montana featuring a Native American heroine and her gruff retired military hero as they chase down answers to a gruesome murder in a small town.
I grew up in a small town (smaller than Oakdale), and while a lot of people like to imagine small towns as quaint and adorable, where everyone knows your name, and the shop keepers always have a warm welcoming smile — I think of secrets, murder, and mayhem.
And, as they say, write what you know, so there’s plenty of darkness lurking behind every smile, secret lives, and corruption — what fun! — in this book series.
How about a little behind-the-scenes about this book?
Well, my editor had mentioned they were really interested in seeing more inclusive characters in the upcoming proposals, including that of indigenous people, and I knew this was my opportunity to write another series featuring Native characters.
I set the series in Montana, then created a fictitious tribe, the Macawi, so that I didn’t inadvertently portray tribal details incorrectly, but I researched the many issues currently facing the modern indigenous people.
From abject poverty created by a lack of employment opportunities, poor health services, alcoholism and drug addiction, to struggling to retain teachers on the reservations, the issues are complex and without an easy solution.
However, there’s one issue in particular — the underreported and rampant abuse against women — that is gaining well-overdue national attention
According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Native American women are sexually assaulted 2.5 times more than any other ethnicity. The same study shows that Native American women were victimized the most out of all populations in the United States.
The issue has created a growing movement to draw more attention to the lack of resources spent for these silent and marginalized victims.
In my book, Danger In Big Sky Country, the heroine, Luna Proudfoot Griffin and her two sisters must learn to navigate between two different worlds without losing parts of themselves in the process.
It was humbling to read so many stories of women lost, and heartbreaking to see that even with new attitudes toward cultural protection, there are still many areas that desperately need improvement.
We all can do our part. This is my way of normalizing inclusion, opening up discussion, and creating the wave toward change.
Danger In Big Sky Country can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and wherever books are sold online and in select Wal-Mart stores during the month of December.
Happy reading and feel free to let me know what you think!
Kim Van Meter is a former full-time reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and The Riverbank News; she continues to provide a monthly column. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.