Don Rearden on the inspiration for his short story “Aurora’s Dance,” featured in our holiday-themed collection of suspenseful short stories Dreaming of a Noir Christmas:

“My cousin, Rich Gannon, now a web-designer and reformed dog musher and race manager, once suggested to me late one night after a few beers how scary it would be in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness to encounter a dog team with no owner. I agreed with him, and that idea haunted me for a while. When you think you are alone in the Alaskan wilderness there is nothing scarier than a chance encounter with signs you aren’t alone. I know this from personal experience. A few simple impressions in the snow or mud can set your mind reeling. Who is it? Why are the tracks there? Will the man who left them know you? What if he needs help? What if he’s dangerous? The only thing scarier than this situation is being alone in the wilderness and needing help and knowing there is no one but yourself to save you. That situation I know all too well having spent a good majority of my life in the Alaskan wilderness, and more than once just barely returning alive. The image of the dogs pulling a sled with no musher never quite left my mind. The scenario played out in my head for some time and eventually turned into this story. – DR