How The Iceberg Trilogy came to be…

The story of three generations of women over the course of a century, The Iceberg Trilogy has parts set on the easterly part of Newfoundland overlooking Iceberg Alley. There were so many elements that led to me writing this particular series.

The most significant one, was during my travels through Canada, I came across a woman who so intrigued me she became the inspiration for books 2 and 3.

Another was finding The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx quite fascinating, while, around this time, I also met a woman who came from Newfoundland and subsequently became a good friend — she had some great stories to tell and that certainly piqued my interest.

Yet another was having watched the film, Breaking the Waves — not really to be recommended — but the puritanism of that Scottish community did influence the father in my first book . The setting for that movie was also on a windswept, remote island.

Two other influences of note were i) that I had travelled to the Himalayas and no photographed captured the immensity of the mountains or what that feeling was like, how it was almost otherworldly, and ii) around that time we also had mountaineering friends who had just started a tour business to the Antartica (Aurora Expeditions) and icebergs were one of the highlights of that experience. I always remember Greg telling me they were mind-blowing.

The Iceberg Trilogy — because — icebergs!

I grew up on a farm, quite some distance from friends and a little bit isolated. I could easily relate to my character, Rebecca, a young girl, somewhat bored with her life, longing for something more, and could understand how she would feel drawn to icebergs.

In Seldom Come By icebergs are what bring Samuel into Rebecca’s life. Some way through, an  iceberg scene is an emotional highpoint in Book 1 and pivotel to their relationship. In Book 2, icebergs were enmeshed with Rebecca’s storyline and character development. While in Book 3, icebergs remained a constant and comfort to Rebecca in her aging years. Without Rebecca’s love of icebergs, these books would not exist.

So the series name, The Iceberg Trilogy, came to me very early on and felt completely right.

Coming up with 3 titles.

What was a challenge, however, was coming up with individual book titles, because I wanted them to relate to each other in some way. Initially, I tried for something that had icebergs in the first book and was connected to nature:


  • As icebergs drift
  • As mountains fall
  • As waters flow

The problem with this was there were no mountains falling in Book 2 — though my characters did spend most of their time in parts of Canada that were relative flat.


I settled on Seldom Come By not long after, which a few in my inner circle quite liked, and then I tossed around lots more possibilities until I ended up with Come What May for Book 2 and Come Full Circle for Book 3.

I did  have a friend who from the get go was not really enamoured with the title, Seldom Come By. Her advice: ‘Go back to the drawing board.’ She was a published author with two novels and two non-fiction titles under her belt. Reluctantly, her advice was not to be scoffed at.

But try as we might – and I say we as there are two other people I always involve in the creative process when it comes to the big questions – we couldn’t seem to come up with a few mere words that said it better. Over a few years we came up with hundreds of options and in the end only two other sets of titles came close, but they didn’t eclipse the ones we had.


  • A time of yearning
  • A life of hiding
  • A breath of truth


  • Linger
  • Vanish
  • Traces

Part of this challenge was, naturally, I wanted the three titles to work together, but they needed to be apt for each individual story. I also wanted the first one to have a strong connection to Newfoundland and, if possible, icebergs, because the sighting of icebergs was so exhilarating for Rebecca and hopefully would be for my readers as well. Seldom Come By is located on Fogo Island which is alongside Iceberg Alley.

If you spend any time looking through the history and geography of Newfoundland, you will find many charming and quirky names begging for an explanation — and these in themselves add to the personality of the country and no doubt the character of Newfoundlanders. Places such as:

Black Duck Siding
Halfway Tucks
Blow Me Down
Jerry’s Nose
Lushes Bight
Heart’s Content

There was even a Come By Chance. But in the end I settled on Seldom Come By: in honour of Rebecca’s majestic icebergs; in honour of Samuel drifting by in his tender and the unlikelihood of Rebecca finding him; and by no means least, in honour of the original and striking young woman that was Rebecca.


The Iceberg Trilogy set in Canada over the course of the 20th century

 A Second Seldom Come By

A lot has happened since I published Seldom Come By. E-books and self-published books have taken off and now thanks to technology, a lot of rare and out of print books are finding their way onto sites like Amazon and GoodReads. Recently I came across a book, added not so long ago, yet published in 2003, called: Seldom Come By, A Surgeon’s Stories by Clement A Hilbert.

Born in Maine in 1926, Clement graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1951 and in 1959 he returned to his home state to become a surgeon at the Maine Medical Center in Portland where he remained for the next forty years, becoming chief of surgery and staff president of the hospital. Apparently:

Clem often pointed to his experience as a medical student in Newfoundland in the summer of 1950 as one of the most remarkable times in his life.

An amazing co-incidence, don’t you think? And look at the beautiful iceberg on the cover? It warmed my heart. 


Places in Seldom Come By and Come Full Circle

In the event that you can’t find them on a map…one thing I did do in The Iceberg Trilogy was have fictitious names for the island of Second Chance and the village of Deception Bay in Seldom Come By. I did not want anyone to think poorly of that place or Newfoundlanders due to certain actions and beliefs of one particular character. Similarly, for Come Full Circle, the location of Kitisak is a fictitious place in British Columbia, largely constructed to create the more secluded bay I was after and to protect the identity / location of the woman I came across who became the inspiration for my character, Evangelene.

Image Credit

The main iceberg photograph used on this page was taken by a New Zealand friend, Sharon Nicholas, who has worked as a guide in Antartica.