I’ve been so immersed in readings and book signings for Montana, and working on the manuscript for Wyoming, the third book in the Lola Wicks series, that the release date for Dakota crept up on me. The sequel to Montana is out in a month!
In it, reporter Lola Wicks goes to North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields on the trail of some missing teenage girls. Her quest is complicated by winter, which is very nearly a major character in the book. See the video below – it gives you an inkling of what it’s like. Now imagine spending the winter in a camper with no hookups, as so many people do in the makeshift “man camps” dotting the oil patch. In Dakota, Lola Wicks thinks that living in western Montana has taught her how to cope with winter. Once she heads east, she finds a whole new variety of cold.
The Bakken has been much in the news recently, and little of it good. There was the scary derailment, in December, of an oil train near Casselton, N.D., with a fireball that looked like something out of Hiroshima (Image, at right: NationofChange.org). Only the fact that the train derailed about a mile outside town prevented a repeat of the tragedy in July in Lac-Megantic in Canada’s Quebec Province, where a train carrying Bakken oil derailed and exploded, killing more than 40 people.
Crime in western North Dakota has increased exponentially, right along with the population. The problems have spilled over into northeastern Montana, which borders the Bakken. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock have asked that a temporary deployment of FBI agents to Sidney, a sort of commuter community to the Bakken, be made permanent. And, in a region where men vastly outnumber women, sex trafficking is an utterly foreseeable problem.
All of this is tough on the folks who live there, and on the newcomers, too. J. Christian Jensen’s poignant documentary White Earth, which takes its name from an oil patch town of the same name, looks at the issue from both points of view.
But it’s a gift for a writer – and for a reporter, as Lola finds out when she ventures east. To read more about Lola’s adventures in Dakota, and to read an excerpt, click here.