Taking the Risk: To Live, to Write

I’m happy to welcome West Coast author K. L. Abrahamson. Today, Karen shares an inspiring post about risk-taking and her new release, Trapped on Cedar Trails.

Here’s Karen!

I used to work with young offenders. We’d worry about their ‘risk-taking’ behaviours—drinking, using drugs, unsafe sex, and so on. We wanted those youth to take fewer risks so that we could keep them safe. On the other hand, we often see overprotective parents remove all risk from their children’s lives. The result is children who have very little understanding of adversity or the skills to overcome it.

To me, a certain level of risk taking is normal and necessary to our human development—after all, so much in life requires us to take a risk. From leaping into the old swimming hole, to changing a job or career, to taking a chance on love—all of them require a certain level of risk. You put your trust in the rope swing over the pool, in the new job being better than the last, and you put your vulnerable heart out there.

I enjoy adventure travel and I usually go on these adventures alone. Every time, before I leave, I go through a few days of feeling a little sick to my stomach with trepidation. Am I doing the right thing going to a place I’ve never been? Inevitably my life has been enriched by each adventure. I just have to get through that period of doubt.

Writers take a risk each time they sit down at the computer (well maybe not Stephen King or Norah Roberts, but the rest of us).We might have a brilliant idea for a new story or novel, but the risk is whether we have the writing chops to pull it off. What’s the old saying? You need to write a million words before you start to pick the right ones? It’s a pleasure when things go well when we write, but we need to keep taking risks and trying something new or else we’ll find ourselves mired in a rut of safety, and writing the same old, same old, again and again.

Our characters also need to be risk takers because who wants to read about the person who chooses safety again and again? If the character does choose safety, then there must be consequences for that choice. I think of my decision to leave a well-paying government job after seventeen years. All of my coworkers said they wished they were as brave as I was, but they chose safety, a pension, and the grind of a job they didn’t love, while I got uncertainty and freedom to write and the ability to choose my own direction. Choosing to take a risk, or choosing not to, comes at a price. Our characters may take their risks with less trepidation than we do in real life, but we still help them take their big leap—because that’s where the story generally is. The price is what comes after.

With writing, unlike real life, when things don’t work out, we can simply throw the manuscript out. Or rewrite.

We don’t find ourselves halfway up a Burmese mountain dealing with food poisoning.

Of course I lived through that little episode, too.


The discovery of a woman’s body trapped in driftwood off a small, west coast town turns a five-day photography class into a nightmare for Phoebe Clay, her sister Becca, and Phoebe’s niece Alice.

The specter of murder hangs over the family as they join the other students at an isolated fish cannery guesthouse. On their first night, Alice spots ghostly figures outside and on the first morning, Phoebe finds a dead grizzly bear with parts removed. She doesn’t want to get involved, but there’s something wrong at the Bella Vista Cannery Guesthouse, and someone is not who they say they are.

Against her better judgment, she begins quiet enquiries. When Alice decides to pursue her own risky investigation, events take a sharp turn, revealing an insidious plot that threatens all their lives.

On the run on the cannery’s treacherous, rain-soaked, night-shrouded cedar trails, Phoebe and her family will face brutal foes determined to ensure the family doesn’t survive to reveal the cannery’s secrets.

Available here.


From this position by the water, there was only the still water, the mountains and mist, and the blue sky above. Ahead, gulls squawked and wheeled and a huge bald eagle circled overhead, then swooped in low, scattering the gulls. The eagle disappeared around the end of the point and didn’t reappear, but the wind brought a whiff of something unpleasant.

Carrion. Eagles and gulls were both scavengers, regardless of the esteem with which the eagles were held.

Stones creaking and crackling under her, Phoebe approached the headland cautiously, not sure what she’d find and not wanting to disturb the birds. Out on the water a lone sailboat coasted the blue-black water ahead of the breeze, toward the white-capped peaks of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.

She reached the point of land that was partially blocked by fresh driftwood and stepped up on a log to see what waited on the other side. It took her a moment to understand.

A flurry of black raven wings beat in the sun. The eagle lifted up from the shore and settled again on a huge hump in the sand, sending the ravens scattering.


The huge black birds also liked carrion.

Phoebe squinted against the sun’s glare. The hump sorted itself out into a furred mass of dark brown with tawny flecks.

Bear. Except that there was only a vacancy filled by ravens tearing at bloody flesh where the head should be. Another gust of wind brought the stink of rotting flesh and she swallowed back the rebellion of her stomach.

Author Bio and Links

West Coast author K.L. Abrahamson writes mystery, fantasy and romance. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Derringer and the Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


2 responses to “Taking the Risk: To Live, to Write

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s