A frightened horse with a bloody saddle is loose on the Yellowhead Highway, just west of the Rocky Mountains. Who better to investigate than former RCMP detective Hunter Rayne turned trucker, who is flagged down to help calm the frantic horse and find its missing rider. So begins Yellowhead Blues, the latest novel by South Cariboo-based author, R.E. Donald.
“It came from a love of reading,” said Donald on why she writes. “I knew at an early age that I wanted to write fiction, and when I started my series, I followed the logical advice to ‘write what you know’ and also to ‘write the book you would like to read.’
As for the inspiration for writing about Hunter Rayne, Donald worked in the transportation industry for many years. Her late husband also played a role in the creation of Hunter Rayne.
“My late husband in his early twenties not only worked as a truck driver but did so as an undercover operative for the police. He was my consultant on the first two novels,” she said. “Making my trucker hero a former RCMP investigator gave him the skills and contacts he needed to solve crimes.”
Living in Lone Butte, Donald moved there from the Lower Mainland in 2013.
She used several locations throughout the Cariboo, such as Fawn Lake, Horsefly, Little Fort and others.
“I used those locations because they fit the plot, and it also gave me an opportunity to share the Cariboo with readers around the world. I’ve heard from several readers that they keep a map handy when they read my books, and one even said she and her husband planned a trip to the Yukon and Alaska after reading Sundown on Top of the World.”
All five books Donald has published so far have been self-published. She said she had gone through the process of finding an agent to publish her first novel (Slow Curve on the Coquihalla), while she was working on her second (Ice on the Grapevine). She said she came close to getting one in New York but then her husband passed away, her life changed and the first two novels began collecting dust.
“When I got a Kindle in 2011, I realized that I could get my books out to readers without an agent or publisher, so I dusted off the first two novels, published them as e-books, and got back to writing,” she said. “I like having full control of what and when I write. No worries about missing a deadline or getting dropped by a publisher because sales are too low.”
She has found success in self-publishing, with one of her books, Sea to Sky, has been translated to German and an American actor has begun narrating an audiobook for Slow Curve on the Coquihalla.
However, she said she feels her greatest success as an author is when she hears from her readers.
“People I’ve never met who live thousands of miles away or across the ocean – who enjoy my books so much that they are impatient for me to finish writing the next one,” she said.
Some of the best feedback she has received is when people compare her novels to well-known writers she greatly admires.
“One reader wrote: ‘I think we have another Harry Bosch character’, referring to Michael Connelly’s series. Another wrote he would put my hero, Hunter, ‘into the lofty echelons with Adam Dalgliesh, Morse and the Hon. Det. Lynley” referring to the fictional detectives created by P.D. James, Colin James and Elizabeth George.”
Donald is currently in the researching and planning stage of her sixth novel, which will also be part of the Highway Mystery series.