A local author has just released her first-ever novel, a chilling murder mystery set in a fictitious B.C. ski resort.

Panorama resident Kristina Stanley’s novel Descent came out on Saturday, July 25th and draws heavily on her experience working at Panorama Mountain Resort as a director of human resources, security and guest services.

It was the best job of my life and I missed it when I left, so when I decided to write a novel, I thought I’d write about a mystery happening at a ski resort in B.C., said Mrs. Stanley. It was a way to bring the mountain lifestyle with me.

After Mrs. Stanley quit her job at Panorama in 2009, she and her husband spent the next five years living on a sail boat in the Bahamas, and it was on the boat that Mrs. Stanley first started writing novels.

When you’re sailing you have a lot of spare time. It’s great to have all that free time, but I really wanted something mentally stimulating to keep me busy and that’s when I decided to write books, she said. The couple has since sold the boat and, missing the Upper Columbia Valley too much, moved back to Panorama last year coincidentally just in time for the publication of Descent this summer, and the coming December 2015 publication of Mrs. Stanley’s second novel Blaze.

Although she was always an avid readers, Mrs. Stanley had little prior writing experience, so she took a correspondence course through the Humber School for Writers, during which she was mentored by renown Canadian author Joan Barfoot.

I studied computer science and mathematics. I literally had nothing to do with writing before I sat down to write the first book, said Mrs. Stanley. So the course was a big learning experience for me. She (Ms. Barfoot) taught me so much. I went in (to the course) thinking one thing (about how to write novels) and came out thinking another.

During the five years on the sailboat, Mrs. Stanley wrote four novels, most of them set in at the fictional Stone Mountain Resort, near the also fictional town of Holden, B.C. She sent in some of her work to Edmonton publishing company Imajin Books, staying up late one night so she could be the first to submit her work, at 12:01 a.m., when the company opened up its annual submissions intake. To Mrs. Stanley’s surprise and delight she soon had a two-book contact with Imajin.

It really took a few days for it to sink in that they (the books) had been accepted, said Mrs. Stanley. It was a shock, a good shock, and I had to get my husband to re-read the email just to confirm it, because I almost couldn’t believe it.

Although Mrs. Stanley said she used her experience working at Panorama to help her craft the story, she says she also consciously tired to avoid reflecting reality too much.

I had access to a lot of good details, but the story is completely made up, she said. I would call up people I knew from working at Panorama, a boot fitter for instance or operations managers, for technical details, to make sure all the information in my stories us correct and make the stories more real. For my second novel Blaze I talked a lot with firefighters to get some firsthand accounts of the situations they face. But in terms of actually recognizing characters in the story as people in real life, no the characters are all completely from my imagination.

Mrs. Stanley and her husband initially had careers in the high-tech industry before deciding to pack that in and live aboard a sailboat from 1999 to 2003. Returning to land life as the couple calls it, they decided to move to the mountains and ending up driving across Canada search for the perfect ski resort to call home. They stopping in several Kootenay ski resort and were halfway to Red Mountain when Mrs. Stanlety said stop, let’s go back to Panorama, that’s the place. So they turned around and several months later Mrs. Stanley has secured her job at the resort, which she stayed at from 2004 to 2009, until the couple decided to go back to life on a sailboat for a second time.

Mrs. Stanley’s first official author event will be at the Labour Day long weekend downtown farmers’ market in Invermere, where she will have a stand and will be signing books, on Saturday, August 5th. For those who just can’t wait to get their hands on a copy of Descent, the general store at Panorama will be stocking the book.

PTo learn more check out Mrs. Stanley’s blog and website at kristinastanley.com .