Stephanie Joyce Cole asks if you could run away from your life and start again, would you?
If you ask writers where their stories come from, you might get blank stares in return. It’s not that we have a secret we don’t want to share. It’s just that we often don’t know. Stories and characters worm their way, uninvited, into our heads.
But this isn’t always true. Compass North has a specific origin, and the story began in a very dark place. After the Twin Towers fell in New York on 9/11, I was shocked and I grieved for the victims, like most of the world. So many people lost their lives and their remains would never be found because of the extent of the catastrophe. There had to be some individuals, though, who escaped death simply by pure luck: Perhaps they had just darted off-site for coffee, or perhaps they missed their subway train and were late for work. For most of those people, surviving such a terrible event would be followed by a joyous reunion with friends and family.
But what if a desperately unhappy person realized, as the horrible event unfolded, that she was “dead?” Would she be tempted to take an extraordinary step, to stay dead and to run, in the hope that somewhere and somehow there could be a new start and an escape from the depths of unhappiness after all?
This thought continued to nag me, and from that imagining, Meredith came to life. As Compass North opens, Meredith is worn down from years of emotional abuse by her husband. She is on a bus tour in Alaska, and she narrowly escapes a massive accident and is presumed dead. At first, in shock, she is pulled along by circumstances and misunderstandings, but then she starts to make choices. She builds a new life and a new identity in a quirky small Alaskan town, but she soon finds that reinvention isn’t easy. Compass North is about secrets and the price to be paid for keeping them. But it’s also a story of the joy of personal rediscovery, as Meredith recaptures her strength and forges new friendships, and a romantic relationship unexpectedly blossoms.
Haven’t we all suffered dreadful periods when a little voice in our head whispered that it would be so wonderful to run away and start again, as a different person? Impossible, for most of us, and thankfully dark times pass, for most of us. Meredith takes a leap that few will never attempt. Join her on her journey of adventure and personal reinvention in Compass North.
Reeling from the shock of a suddenly shattered marriage, Meredith flees as far from herhome in Florida as she can get without a passport: to Alaska. After a freak accident leaves her presumed dead, she stumbles into a new identity and a new life in a quirky small town. Her friendship with a fiery and temperamental artist and her growing worry for her elderly, cranky landlady pull at the fabric of her carefully guarded secret. When a romance with a local fisherman unexpectedly blossoms, Meredith struggles to find a way to meld her past and present so that she can move into the future she craves. But someone is looking for her, someone who will threaten Meredith’s dream of a reinvented life.
Stephanie Joyce Cole earned a law degree from UCLA and a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. For many years, she worked as an attorney and court administrator in Anchorage, Alaska. She recently relocated to Seattle where she resides with her husband and a rather predatory (but lovable) Manx cat.